Korea’s new virus cases remained below 50 for two consecutive days on Tuesday, and imported infections surpassed local outbreaks for the first time in two weeks.
The nation confirmed 44 new Covid-19 patients -- 20 local infections and 24 imported cases -- as of midnight Monday, pushing up the total to 13,181, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The number of people discharged from quarantine climbed up to 11,914, up 66 from Monday.
One more patient died, increasing the death toll to 285 and keeping the mortality rate at 2.16 percent. The nation, with a population of 50 million, has tested 1,346,194 people since Jan. 3. Among them, 1,309,338 people tested negative, with 23,675 suspected patients waiting for results.
Sixteen out of 24 imported infections, or two-thirds, were confirmed during the screening process at ports or airports.
The rise in imported cases reflected the resurge of Covid-19 patients abroad. Korea has recorded a double-digit number of foreign inflows for the 12th consecutive day since June 26.
The public health authorities are not particularly concerned about the foreign influx. Most of the cases are checked in the course of quarantine or isolating procedures, with few cases leading to community spreads.
However, some experts did not rule out the possibility of imported cases working as the detonator of explosive outbreaks if a part of asymptomatic entrants is exposed to the local community while using public transport.
More than half of the local infections were reported in the greater Seoul area, including Incheon and Gyeonggi Province.
Six more people were confirmed of infection in the southwestern city of Gwangju. Four of the six confirmed patients were known to have contacted members of a church in the city, pushing the total number of church-tied infections to 88 since June 27.
Concerns are also growing over the spreading infections to apartments, gyms, and even golf courses.
The health authorities said that in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, a cluster infection emerged in the apartment and at the gym where residents of the apartment have visited.
Also, at a golf course in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, two people who rounded with a confirmed patient related to Uijeongbu apartments in June were infected. Although outdoor activities have a relatively lower risk of getting the virus, the recent case of infection at the golf course revealed that the risk is still there if it is a place where people have contacts.
Many Koreans expressed worries upon the news that the type of Covid-19 virus currently prevalent in the country has been identified as the GH strain coming from Europe and the United States, which is known to have six times stronger infectivity than S and V strain that was widely spread between January and March.
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