Korea's new virus cases kept seesawing on Thursday, as small gatherings and various clubs of people with similar hobbies and tastes emerge as new hot spots.
The nation reported 39 new Covid-19 cases -- 27 local infections and 12 foreign arrivals -- raising the cumulative total to 12,602 as of midnight Friday.
Nineteen of the 27 locally transmitted cases occurred in the densely populated greater Seoul area where around half of the country's 50-million population lives. Daejeon, a metropolis some 160 km south of Seoul, added four more cases, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials additionally confirmed infections at the Four Seasons Hotel, a six-star hotel located in downtown Seoul, and at a large Protestant church in, southwestern Seoul, on Thursday. In addition to religious gatherings and multi-marketing firms’ sales events, five members of a car club in Seoul were infected on Wednesday, indicating that the coronavirus is infiltrating into every nook and cranny of the society.
Imported infections also recorded a double-digit rise on Friday, the ninth such case this month. Seven of them were newly confirmed cases during the quarantine process at airports, with the remaining five tested positive during self-quarantine after arriving in Korea.
Despite the hardly flinching spread of the virus, the nation saw a sharp increase in the number of people recovering from the virus as the public health authorities reported an additional 198 recovered patients, raising the total to 11,172. Those under treatment dropped to 1,148, down 159 from the previous day.
The country reported no new virus-linked death on Friday, keeping the death toll at 282. It has tested 1,232,315 suspected patients since Jan. 3. Among them, 1,200,885 people tested negative with the other 18,828 awaiting results.
KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said Wednesday that the greater Seoul seemed to have entered into a second viral wave, following the first one in February and March, calling for the people to prepare for a drawn-out fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organization expected the global virus caseload to top 10 million next week.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, the Moon Jae-in administration’s coronavirus czar, agreed with the KCDC head, stressing that the nation has to prepare for a long-term situation of repeated exacerbations and improvements in battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Presiding over the daily task force meeting, Chung also instructed the Ministry of Health and Welfare and other related agencies to provide clear standards so that people can easily understand how and to what level the quarantine rules should be observed in daily life.
"No matter how well we set up the prevention standards, vulnerabilities will be found," Chung said. "Therefore, gaps and blind spots that are difficult to reach have to be minimized through the people's participation and cooperation."
To this end, the government has decided to receive reports or suggestions related to Covid-19 through the Safety E-Report site from July, Prime Minister Chung added.
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