New virus cases dip to below 30Korea's new coronavirus cases again fell below 30 Thursday, but the country is still on alert over another wave of virus outbreaks with continued rises in cluster infections and imported cases.
The country added 28 cases, including 23 local infections, raising the total caseload to 12,563, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
The tally marked a sharp fall from 51 new cases reported Wednesday and 46 additional cases Tuesday.
Of the locally transmitted cases, 18 were reported in densely populated Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas. Four were reported in Daejeon, about 160 kilometers south of Seoul.
Korea has been gripped by sporadic cluster infections since it relaxed stricter social distancing on May 6. The greater Seoul area accounted for most of the newly added cases this month.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to prolong globally as the virus is spreading at a faster pace than any other infectious diseases and there are no treatments and vaccines," KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Joon-wook said in a briefing.
Cluster infections continued to swell, with most traced to logistics centers, door-to-door retailers and small churches.
Cases tied to a door-to-door sales establishment in Daejeon came to 71 as of noon, up by 13 from the previous day.
Those linked to a distribution center run by e-commerce leader Coupang in Icheon, south of Seoul, totaled just two. Health authorities are conducting virus tests on 189 people. At least 152 cases have been traced to a warehouse operated by Coupang in Bucheon, west of Seoul.
Those patients whose infections were traced to a social club meeting near the Han River appear to have been infected with the virus during their gatherings at indoor facilities, according to the KCDC.
Health authorities have said the Seoul metropolitan area is already in a second wave of the new coronavirus outbreak, warning that the country should brace for a protracted virus fight. The first wave of the virus outbreak gripped the country between February and March.
Health authorities warned that they could consider expanding tougher infection preventive measures — currently in place only in the Seoul metropolitan area — across the country.
As part of the measures to maintain distancing in daily life, the government is expected to soon unveil its guidelines for allowing spectators back into sports stadiums.
The country is also struggling to stem cases coming in from overseas. Five additional imported cases were reported, with the number of such cases rising to 1,496.
Recently, cluster infections on a Russia-flagged cargo ship docked in the southeastern city of Busan, the country's second-largest city, have been reported, and cases traced to overseas have been on a steady rise.
At least 17 sailors aboard two Russian ships tested positive for Covid-19.
Health authorities are conducting virus tests on some 163 port workers, repairmen and others who came into contact with the infected crew members. Of them, 152 people have tested negative.
Starting Wednesday, health authorities conducted on-board quarantine inspections of vessels arriving from Russia at Busan ports.
Imported cases, once the main source of virus cases here, fell to a single-digit figure early this month after the country strengthened quarantine measures on all international arrivals in April.
But such cases have bounced back to double-digit numbers since mid-June.
Korea reported one additional death, bringing the total death toll to 282. The fatality rate was 2.24 percent.
The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 10,974, up 44 from the previous day.
The country has carried out 1,220,478 tests since Jan. 3.