|People wearing face masks walk past a Christmas tree set up for a year-end festival featuring colorful lanterns at a shopping street in Seoul, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. AP|
The number of daily new COVID-19 infections here exceeded 300 for Friday, the fourth consecutive day, due to sporadic cluster infections nationwide, casting concerns over a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The country added 386 more cases, including 361 local infections, raising the total caseload to 30,403, according to the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The daily caseload has stayed in the triple digits since Nov. 8, with the figure exceeding 300 for Tuesday, for the first time since late August, with 313 cases. The country confirmed 343 cases for Wednesday and 363 for Thursday
The cumulative number of infections topped 30,000, Friday, 10 months after the country reported its first case, Jan. 20.
The health authorities said a third wave of virus infections is in progress in the greater Seoul area, following the first in February to March in Daegu and the second in August also in Seoul.
They have put constant efforts to control infection clusters occurring sporadically across the nation linked to private gatherings, public facilities and hospitals.
The state-run five-tier social distancing guidelines were raised in the greater Seoul area and southern city of Gwangju by one notch to Level 1.5 for two weeks Wednesday, in order to control the wave of infections.
Suncheon in South Jeolla Province, about 415 km southeast of Seoul, started to enforce Level 2 social distancing rules Friday as a precautionary move, becoming the first municipality in the country to enforce the third highest level.
Of the 361 locally transmitted cases, 262 were identified in the capital area, home to half of the country's 51 million population. Seoul added 154 cases, while the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and western port city of Incheon reported 86 and 22, respectively.
At the same time, the daily number of COVID-19 cases reported outside the greater Seoul area reached 99, including 19 in North Chungcheong Province, 18 in South Jeolla Province and 14 in Gwangwon Province.
The number of new imported cases came to 25, down from 43 the previous day. Of these, 12 were from the United States, followed by three from Japan. The total number of imported cases now stands at 4,380.
The KDCA reported two additional deaths, raising the total to 503.
More deaths could be reported down the road as the number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 86, up two from Friday.
The number of people released from quarantine after recovering came to 102, raising the total to 26,365. (Yonhap)