SEOUL • South Korea's new daily Covid-19 case count topped 200 for the second consecutive day yesterday due to sporadic clusters of infections, prompting the health authorities to consider tightening restrictions.
South Korea reported 208 new coronavirus cases - 176 locally transmitted and 32 imported from overseas, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
The daily tally saw a triple-digit gain for eight days straight as of yesterday, with the number of new cases having exceeded 200 for the first time in 73 days on Saturday.
With sporadic clusters of infections continuing to emerge in connection with social gatherings, nursing homes and medical institutions as well as workplaces, the government is mulling over whether to move up the level of social distancing by a notch to level 1.5 in its five-tier scheme.
Level 1 rules have been in place in most parts of the country, representing the lowest level of vigilance, with some municipalities having raised the level due to outbreaks in their regions.
Level 1 rules are imposed when the number of daily new cases is below 100 in the Greater Seoul area; below 30 in the Chungcheong, Jeolla and Gyeongsang provinces; and below 10 in Gangwon province and on Jeju Island.
Under level 1, people must follow basic guidelines such as wearing a mask, and gatherings of more than 500 people are not recommended.
Under level 1.5, gatherings of 100 or more people are restricted, eating and dancing at high-risk facilities such as nightclubs and karaoke rooms are prohibited, and fewer people are allowed inside indoor facilities such as funeral homes, public saunas, theatres and private cram schools.
Of the 32 imported cases, 14 were identified while they were under mandatory self-quarantine in South Korea, with the other 18 detected during screenings at the border.
Sixteen cases were from elsewhere in Asia, 10 from the Americas and six from Europe. Ten of the imported cases involved foreign nationals.
So far, of the 28,546 people confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus, 25,691 have been released from quarantine upon making full recovery. Some 2,362 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine.
The death toll stands at 493 and the overall fatality rate is 1.73 per cent. The number of Covid-19 patients in serious or critical condition is 56.
The country carried out 9,589 tests in the past day. A total of 36,378 people are awaiting results of their tests.
THE KOREA HERALD / ASIA NEWS NETWORK