Infections back in triple digits with 110 cases
After stringent social distancing measures started in August, the country saw cases fall back to the double digits Sunday, recording 82 Covid-19 patients, and 61 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest figure since Aug. 13.
Of the new cases Wednesday, 99 were local infections and 11 were imported, including three patients from Uzbekistan.
This brings total cases to 23,216 as of Tuesday midnight, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Wednesday, while the death toll remained at 388 with a fatality rate of 1.67 percent.
Local transmissions were concentrated in the metropolitan areas, with 40 in Seoul, 28 in Gyeonggi and five in Incheon. Others included six in Busan, three in Daegu, two in Gwangju, four in South Chungcheong and six in North Gyeongsang.
Infections continued to take place in offices and medical facilities and through door-to-door salespersons.
One cluster was at a securities company in Yeouido in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul, which added five cases as of Wednesday after the first patient was found on Saturday. They all worked on the same floor.
Another cluster of infections was at a company in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, that distributes masks. It added 11 new patients Wednesday, bringing total cases to 38.
In a briefing Wednesday, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters urged people to refrain from returning to their hometowns over the five-day Chuseok holiday from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 and from unnecessary travel in general. Jeju Island and Gangwon are popular domestic tourist destinations now that overseas travel is difficult because of the pandemic.
The government said it will continue to implement its ban on people visiting elderly care facilities, in place after Level 2 social distancing measures were instituted last month, over Chuseok. It instead encouraged video calls and writing letters to loved ones.
Up to 300,000 tourists are expected to visit Jeju Island during the Chuseok holiday period. Next month, there is another three-day weekend as Hangul Day on Oct. 9 falls on a Friday.
The Jeju provincial government is designating Sept. 26 to Oct. 11 as a special period for monitoring quarantine measures and asked that visitors with fevers refrain from visiting the island during the Chuseok holiday.
The Jeju government said it will require coronavirus testing for any visitor with a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) starting this weekend. It also is requiring tourists to wear masks during their visits to the island and asked them to visit a local health care center if they develop any suspicious symptoms while traveling. Those with coronavirus symptoms will be required to self-isolate at a private residence or designated accommodation until they get a negative Covid-19 test result back.
Those who violate quarantine measures could be fined up to 3 million won under the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.
Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said in a briefing, “The government is urging people to refrain from visiting their homes and relatives, as well as from traveling, but during the holiday period, the accommodation reservation rate is very high, thus there is a need for hotels, leisure facilities and tourist spots to thoroughly prepare quarantine measures.”
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]