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9 in 10 COVID-19 patients had mild symptoms: KCDC

Distancing rules to be tightened at churches

(West Gwangju-Yonhap)
(West Gwangju-Yonhap)

About 91 percent of South Korea’s COVID-19 patients had mild symptoms but those in their 50s and older were more prone to severe symptoms, health authorities said Wednesday.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that after analyzing the treatment records of 8,976 patients who had died, or were released from quarantine by April 30. Some 62 percent of the patients received treatment at hospitals, 36 percent at treatment facilities set up for those with mild or no symptoms and 2 percent at home.

Some 58.2 percent of those in their 80s showed severe symptoms, followed by those in their 70s at 37.7 percent, those in their 60s at 17.1 percent, those in their 50s at 8.3 percent, those in their 40s at 3 percent. Patients in their 30s marked 1.8 percent and those in their 20s at 0.8 percent. 

The average length of time for treatment was 20.7 days and a bit longer for those with severe symptoms -- 23.7 days.

Meanwhile, the authorities decided to tighten distancing rules at churches, banning all church gatherings except the regular worship services. 

All church-related activities -- such as Bible studies, hymn singing practices, events and mass meals -- will be banned starting 6 p.m. Friday, while mask-wearing and QR code registration of visitors will become mandatory.

“Churches were not designated as high-risk facilities, so regular services can proceed as usual, but they should abide by basic quarantine rules such as keeping a log of visitors and wearing a mask,” said Kim Gang-lip, vice Health and Welfare Minister, at a briefing Wednesday.

Visitors to churches will be required to register their identities by generating a one-time, personalized QR code that can be scanned at the door. The personal information will be logged in a database for four weeks, to be automatically discarded after the period.

Other quarantine rules include a keeping at least 1-meter distance among visitors, wearing a mask, designating a person in charge of ensuring adherence to the quarantine rules, among other things.

In case of violation of the quarantine rules, those in charge of the churches or visitors could face a fine of up to 3 million won, and the churches could be forced to be shut down.

The tightened quarantine rules only apply to churches for now, but they could expand to cathedrals and temples, depending on how the situation develops, according to the authorities.

On Wednesday, Korea reported 63 new cases – 33 imported and the rest locally transmitted, with the highest number of imported cases in about three months, according to the KCDC.

Of the imported cases, 11 people were detected during the quarantine screening process at the border and the rest while under home quarantine after arrival.

Health authorities, however, have been less concerned about the imported cases as they are detected either at the border or while under the mandatory two-week isolation upon their entry.

As for locally transmitted cases, 11 cases were registered in Gyeonggi Province. Seven were report in Gwangju in connection with a previously identified Buddhist temple cluster. Five cases were reported in Seoul, three in South Chungcheong Province, two in Daejeon and one each in Incheon and South Jeolla Province, according to the KCDC.

Of the country’s total 13,224 cases, 11,970 people, or 90.4 percent, have been released from quarantine after making full recoveries, up 56 from a day earlier. Some 989 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine.

The death toll remains unchanged at 285. The overall fatality rate stands at 2.15 percent, though it is much higher for those in their 80s or over at 24.82 percent and those in their 70s at 9.37 percent.

The country has carried out 1,359,735 tests since Jan. 3, with 24,012 people awaiting results as of Wednesday.

By Ock Hyun-ju (