Covid infections spike but without clear patterns
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said that Korea saw a total of 191 new cases on Thursday, of which 162 were domestic and 29 imported.
The KDCA said that the emerging clusters were not restricted to definable communities such as nursing homes or churches, like a lot of the former clusters.
As of noon Friday, there was an addition of 12 cases traced to a nursing home in Dongdaemun District, eastern Seoul, bringing the total tally from that nursing home to 53; an additional six cases were traced to a family gathering in Gangseo District, western Seoul, bringing its total to 13; an addition of 11 cases traced to a nursing home in Anyang, Gyeonggi, bringing its total to 154; an addition of 13 cases traced to a gathering of employees of a catering company based in Yongin, Gyeonggi, bringing its total to 14; an addition of 11 cases traced to a private gathering in Inje County, Gangwon, bringing its total to 12; and an addition of six cases traced to a program for school principals in Gangwon, bringing its total to seven.
The daily counts of Covid-19 infections remained in the double digits for most of October until late in the month when they passed the threshold of 100 due to clusters in nursing homes.
The daily cases dropped back to double digits, to 97, on Nov. 1, and had undulated around the 100 mark, falling to 75 on Nov. 2, then rising back to 118 on Nov. 3, 145 by Nov. 5, then dropping to 100 on Monday before rising to 146 by Tuesday, 143 Wednesday and 191 on Thursday.
The last time the daily counts were close to 200 was on Sept. 4, when Korea was seeing a wave of infections from a National Liberation Day rally in Gwanghwamun Square in the middle of August.
Soldiers were among the newly infected. Three senior-ranking soldiers at Army bases in Gyeonggi and eight officers at an Air Force base in Seosan, South Chungcheong, tested positive, the Ministry of National Defense announced Friday.
One senior-ranking soldier at a base in Anyang, Gyeonggi tested positive after meeting with a civilian during a holiday on Nov. 1, who later tested positive.
Two other senior-ranking soldiers at a base in Yangju, Gyeonggi were infected after one of them attended a family funeral.
The Air Force officers tested positive after attending a lecture on the base in Seosan from Monday to Tuesday. The lecturer also tested positive.
While wearing a mask on public transport, at protests and rallies or during visits to nursing homes has been required by law since Oct. 13. Friday was the first day that violators of the law were subject to a penalty of up to 100,000 won ($89.60).
Under the law, people are allowed to wear so-called dental masks, surgical masks, hygienic masks, disposable masks and cloth masks, but wearing scarves pulled across one's face or masks made out of net fabric can face penalties.
Masks should cover the nose at all times.
Children under the age 14 and people with disabilities who may have difficulty wearing masks won’t face penalties, nor will people who briefly take off their masks while eating, washing, swimming, performing a medical procedure, taking a photo or holding some sort of an entertainment show, health officials said.
The Seoul city government announced Friday that it began random rounds of inspections. In addition to public transport and nursing homes, the city government added a number of high-risk businesses such as noraebang (booth-type singing room), bars that involve dancing, internet cafes, movie theaters, funerals and cram schools with more than 300 students to the list of locations where people are required to wear masks.
With the addition of 191 cases Thursday, Korea's total number of Covid-19 infections reached 28,133. A total of 133 recovered from Wednesday to Thursday, bringing total recoveries to 25,537. One person died from Wednesday to Thursday, bringing the total deaths to 488 with a 1.73 percent death rate.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]