Infected prison guard shuts down trials in SeoulThe coronavirus penetrated the criminal justice system when a jail guard tested positive on Friday.
A guard in the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, Gyeonggi, was confirmed infected, the Ministry of Justice said Friday, although six fellow employees at the center tested negative.
The ministry said 17 other fellow employees and 253 inmates underwent tests Friday. The center immediately quarantined the fellow employees and inmates and disinfected the facility.
Visits by outsiders to inmates, including their lawyers, were stopped.
According to the ministry, the guard's infection could be traced to the Itaewon cluster — but in a chain of four people. The ministry claimed the guard attended a wedding in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, on May 9 with a friend whose infection was later confirmed. The friend is suspected of having contracted the disease at a noraebang, or karaoke room, that had previously been patronized by a patient living in Dobong District of northern Seoul. That patient had contact with a person from southern Seoul's Gwanak District who visited a club in Itaewon-dong, central Seoul, and got infected.
The detention center holds people being investigated and criminal defendants undergoing trials. Suspects detained at the center are often questioned at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho-dong, Seocho District of southern Seoul, and the prosecution immediately stopped its operation on Friday after the guard’s infection was confirmed.
Seven inmates who had contact with the infected guard were questioned at the prosecutor's office this week. Some 34 people in the prosecutors' office who had contact with inmates were put under self-quarantine.
The Seoul Central District Court and Seoul High Court, located in the same compound as the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, said they would postpone trials. The infected prison guard, however, never visited the courts.
Of the 27 new patients, 22 were local cases while five were from overseas. Fourteen new cases were in Seoul, while four were in Incheon, three in Daegu and one in Gyeonggi.
According to the KCDC, the accumulated number of cases was 11,018. As of Thursday midnight, 9,821 people had recovered, while 937 were quarantined and receiving treatment. No new deaths were reported Thursday. The total death toll remained at 260.
The KCDC said infections from the cluster in Itaewon continued to spread. Five of the new patients reported Thursday were linked to Itaewon clubs, raising the total number of cases linked to Itaewon to 153. Among them, 90 are actual visitors to the clubs. The rest are relatives, friends and colleagues.
Patients are mainly living in the capital region. According to the KCDC, 87 are in Seoul, 26 in Gyeonggi and 22 in Incheon.
“Community infections are growing as more people had contact with the people who were infected in the clubs,” said KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong. “Please refrain from using closed, heavily populated multipurpose facilities and having gatherings this weekend.”
BY SER MYO-JA [email@example.com]