Korea reported new Covid-19 cases nearing 50 on Wednesday, as both local and imported infections rose.
The nation recorded 48 new cases -- 14 local infections and 34 foreign ones -- raising the cumulative caseload to 14,251 as of midnight Tuesday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 13,069, up 62 from the previous day.
The death toll remained unchanged at 300. The country, with a population of 50 million, has carried out 1,547,307 tests since Jan. 3.
Local virus cases rose back to a double-digit figure with Seoul reporting seven cases, followed by five in Busan, and one each in Gyeonggi Province and Incheon.
Imported cases recorded double-digit figures for the 34th consecutive day. Of the 34 imported cases reported on Wednesday, 13 were from Russia, eight from the U.S., seven from Uzbekistan, and two from Kazakhstan. Twenty-one cases were detected at port and airport checkpoints.
According to health authorities, the newly identified cases were mostly tied to Russian ships docked in Busan. Cases linked to sailors from the Russia-flagged ships have reached 90.
The public health authorities recently obliged ship crew members departing from Russia and six other countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Philippines – to submit a negative polymerase chain reaction test certification.
The health officials will also make ship repairers use radios to prevent the spread of local communities through overseas crew confirmers.
The government stressed that there had not been a local infection through temporary living facilities sequestering Covid-19 foreign patients.
The announcement comes as residents refuse to set up such facilities in their neighborhood.
“Temporary living facilities are necessary as a barrier that blocks the risk of foreign inflow of the virus,” Ministry of Health and Welfare spokesman Son Young-rae said. Son doubles as the head of strategic planning in the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters. “Recently, there have been frequent situations where residents and merchants refuse installing temporary living facilities.”
There have been no community infections resulting from about 20,000 Koreans an foreigners who have been admitted to temporary living facilities operated by the central government and local governments. Son stressed that quarantine authorities are also thoroughly blocking such a possibility.
“We ask citizens to actively cooperate in setting up temporary living facilities for the safety and interests of all,” he said. “For foreigners entering temporary living facilities, they have all tested negative during the first screening phase, so there is little chance of Covid-19 infection.”
As there remains a possibility of them testing positive during the 14-day incubation period, the government puts the foreigners in such living facilities. Son stressed that the only remaining method is self-isolation.
“We sincerely ask that citizens understand these facilities' characteristics and that there is little risk of infection from these residents,” he said.
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