Daily infections in Seoul hit record 804

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Daily infections in Seoul hit record 804

People wait in line to receive virus tests at a Covid-19 testing center at Olympic park in Songpa District, western Seoul, on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

People wait in line to receive virus tests at a Covid-19 testing center at Olympic park in Songpa District, western Seoul, on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

 
The city of Seoul reported a record-high for new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, just days before the country enters a major national holiday.
 
The country as a whole added 2,080 more Covid-19 cases, including 2,057 local infections, raising the total number of infections to 277,989, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
 
Thirteen more deaths were confirmed, bringing the death toll to 2,380.
 
Of Wednesday's local infections, 1,656 cases, or 80.5 percent, came from the capital and its neighboring areas. Seoul reported 804 cases, followed by 688 in Gyeonggi and 164 in Incheon. With cases in Seoul soaring above 800 for the first time, virus figures for the greater capital area hit the highest level since the start of the pandemic.
 
The remaining 401 patients, or 19.5 percent of local transmissions were in other regions, with 80 in South Chungcheong, 40 in Busan, 37 in Daejeon and North Chungcheong each and 36 in Gwangju.
 
“[The recent resurgence] is particularly worrying because new infections can spread nationwide as people from the greater capital area travel during the Chuseok holidays,” Son Young-rae, a senior epidemiological strategist at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, said during a briefing Wednesday. It's tradition for people to travel across the country to meet relatives and hold family ancestral rites during the Chuseok harvest holidays, which start this Saturday.
 
“For this Chuseok, please visit your hometown with a minimum number of people after being vaccinated or taking Covid-19 tests for the safety of yourself and your family,” Son said. “For elderly parents aged 60 or older who haven’t completed vaccinations, large family gatherings with people coming from different regions pose a risk to their health.”
 
On Wednesday, health authorities revealed study results showing that reducing meeting times and increasing ventilation can lower the risk of infection by one-fourth to one-third.
 
In a study jointly done with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), the Central Disease Control Headquarters' calculations were based on different scenarios of a meeting in an apartment, like a typical family gathering over Chuseok.
 
Based on mathematical modeling, health authorities said the risk of Covid-19 infection remains 60 percent when the meeting lasted for 12 hours, but when the time was reduced to four hours, the risk of infection also was reduced 35 percent.
 
Even if the hours were the same, the risk of infection differed depending on ventilation.
 
With no ventilation, the risk of infection stood at 78 percent, but it fell to 60 percent with ventilation of 30 minutes and to 42 percent if the apartment was ventilated every ten minutes.
 
Citing such research, health authorities urged people to reduce travel and meetings during the holidays and, if they cannot, keep masks on and avoid conversation during meal times.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]
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