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Seoul sees highest rise in local cases

Government launches mental support campaign to beat ‘coronavirus blues’

Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo (Ministry of Health and Welfare)
Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo (Ministry of Health and Welfare)

Novel coronavirus cases in South Korea rose by 36 to 14,598 on Sunday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s database.

Of the new cases, 30 were locally transmitted and six were imported. One more person died in the 24 hours ending Saturday at midnight, putting the death toll at 305. Case fatality rate stands at 2.09 percent, which is much higher for those 80 or older at 25.2 percent.

Most of the local cases -- 26 -- were found in the Greater Seoul area. Two were found in Gwangju, and North and South Chungcheong provinces each had one.

In Seoul, which has reported the steepest increase in caseload in the country since May, the citywide total reached 1,675. The case count in the capital and districts that surround in together topped 2,815, which is second-highest after Daegu’s 6,881.

One of the travel-related cases was detected at airport checkpoints and the other five were diagnosed while in quarantine. Since April 1, a 14-day quarantine has been mandatory for all arrivals.

Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo said during a briefing Sunday that while the size of new infections was at “manageable levels,” precautions such as mask wearing and keeping hands clean were critical.

“All social gatherings are not advisable, but dining together in particular is among riskier activities,” he said.

Park said the government has launched a campaign to raise awareness about pandemic’s impact on mental health. “Ministry of Health is operating a hotline and a smartphone application to help those struggling to cope with the crisis,” he said.

On Saturday, the government carried out safety checks at 13,680 indoor sport facilities and campsites across the country to find 68 were in violation of coronavirus protocols. Police also inspected 2,092 bars, clubs and other nightlife establishments for four hours from 10 p.m. the same day.

In the last two weeks between July 27 and Sunday, 58 percent or 260 of the 448 newly diagnosed cases were in people who had contracted the virus overseas and six or 1.3 percent were their contacts.

The daily average of imported cases during the period fell to 21.4 from the previous two weeks’ 31.4 on the back of toughened border measures introduced on July 24. Under the new policy, passengers from the government’s list of at-risk countries have to submit medical certificates of being coronavirus-negative.

The proportion of cases with unknown sources of infection rose to 8.5 percent from the previous two weeks’ 6.4 percent. 

So far, 93.4 percent or 13,642 of the known patients have recovered from the infection and released from care. Among 651 currently receiving treatment, 16 are in critical condition.

As of 6 p.m. Saturday, 31,429 were placed under home quarantine, of whom 29,541 were recent passengers from abroad and 1,888 contacts of patients. There are 66 government-run quarantine sites which together have 2,757 rooms for housing international travelers.

Korea has conducted 1,624,650 tests since Jan. 3, of which 98 percent or 1,593,249 returned negative results.

By Kim Arin (