Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: South Korea says virus spread linked to Seoul cluster is slowing

The government has called on those who visited Itaewon between April 24 and May 6 to quickly undergo testing.
The government has called on those who visited Itaewon between April 24 and May 6 to quickly undergo testing.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • South Korea said yesterday that there was no rapid spread of the coronavirus linked to cluster infections in a nightlife area of Seoul, as it reported the fewest daily cases in a week.

A total of 19 new cases were detected on Friday, bringing the total infections in the country to 11,037, Yonhap news agency reported, quoting the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is the first time that the number of daily new infections fell below 20 since May 9, when the single-day cases hit 18, said the Yonhap report.

Nine of the new cases were local infections, six of which are linked to the Itaewon outbreak.

The total caseload tied to visits to clubs and bars in Itaewon reached 162 as of yesterday noon.

"Despite massive testing, there seems to be no trend of the rapid virus spread tied to the Itaewon outbreak," Yonhap quoted Mr Sohn Young-rae, an official at the disaster management headquarters, as saying.

"If we pass this weekend well, we expect the Itaewon-linked spread to come under control," he added.

The government has called on those who visited Itaewon between April 24 and May 6 to quickly undergo testing, promising anonymity.

Despite the slowdown in the virus cases, risks of chain transmissions remain as the government reported the first quaternary infection, said the Yonhap report.

A prison officer at a detention centre in Seoul was infected after travelling with a person who visited a karaoke venue in Seoul. The infection was traced to an acquaintance of an Itaewon clubber who visited the karaoke place, Yonhap reported.

South Korea has flattened the infection curve with its massive testing and contact tracing since its first case on Jan 20.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 17, 2020, with the headline 'S. Korea says virus spread linked to Seoul cluster is slowing'. Subscribe