Korea's new virus cases surged above 60 on Friday, marking the highest level in two weeks as cluster infections were reported anew in Daegu, which was the nation’s hottest spot months ago.
The nation recorded 63 new Covid-19 cases, including 52 local infections, raising the cumulative caseload to 12,967 as of midnight Thursday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 11,759, up 75 from the previous day.
The death toll remained unchanged at 282. The country, with a population of 50 million, has carried out 1,307,761 tests since Jan. 3.
The greater Seoul area, which includes the western port city of Incheon and surrounding Gyeonggi Province, accounted for more than half of local infections with 29. The public health authorities confirmed new virus hotspots outside of the metropolitan area, however.
Most noticeable among regions outside the capital was Daegu, once the hotbed of the country's virus outbreak that has reported the most cases in the nation. The health authorities confirmed 10 new patients there, marking the first time that newly confirmed patients in the southeastern metropolis recorded a double-digit figure since April 7.
In Daegu, the number of confirmed patients exploded in February to March, due to the massive outbreaks in Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony. Since then, however, the city had managed to lower new cases down to a few.
The nation’s fourth-largest city with a population of 2.43 million, is still the hottest spot of the coronavirus outbreak with the accumulated number of 6,923, representing nearly 55 percent of the nation’s total, followed by surrounding North Gyeongsang Province with 1,390, or 10.7 percent.
The quarantine agency also confirmed six additional cases in Gwangju and four cases in Daejeon.
In Gwangju, the virus continued to spread among residents, churchgoers, and tourist groups. Many of them were connected to a Buddhist temple. As of noon Thursday, patients related to the cluster infection reached 49.
As Gwanju has become the new hotbed for the virus, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun held the government's daily task force meeting at Gwangju City Hall and reiterated the importance of following quarantine measures.
"As the head of the task force against Covid-19, I decided to hold the daily meeting in Gwangju to visit the site directly, check the response, and discuss future measures," Chung said. "The spread of new Covid-19 in this metropolis is worrisome, and so, the government will also spare no effort to secure hospital beds and medical personnel."
Chung urged citizens to cooperate to and participate in staying on the quarantine guidelines, as most of the cases came from failing to follow personal precautions, such as wearing a mask.
There were five days when the nation reported new virus cases of more than 50 over the past month, meeting the government's standard to jack up the social distancing to Level 2. However, the prime minister stopped short of hinting at such a possibility.
The number of new imported cases also reached 11, marking a double-digit rise for the eighth consecutive day.
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