|Qurantine officials disinfect an area around the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the city of Daegu, Friday, as part of preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19. /Yonhap|
By Bahk Eun-ji
The health authorities remain on high alert over COVID-19 infection clusters as new cases have been confirmed at a nursing hospital in Daegu, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and in Seoul and its neighboring areas.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), 87 cases were newly detected Thursday, bringing the nation's total number of infections to 8,652. So far, 94 people, mostly elderly people with underlying illnesses, have died from the highly contagious virus.
The country has been showing fewer total cases in recent days. However, the government remains on high alert over the possibility of new infection clusters.
At Pureun Nursing Home in Bonghwa, a long-term care facility in North Gyeongsang Province, three more new infections were confirmed Thursday, bringing the total there to 69.
The KCDC also said five more cases were newly confirmed at the Bundang Jesaeng Hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. So far, a total of 40 infections, including in two doctors, have occurred at the hospital, since its first one, March 5.
The head of the hospital was also confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 earlier this week, leading to the self-quarantine of the vice health minister and other ministry officials who had been in contact with him.
"A full-scale investigation of high-risk group facilities is in progress in Daegu, and about 79 percent of the diagnostic tests have been completed so far. As of Thursday, 10 more cases from three nursing homes in the city have been newly confirmed," said KCDC director Jung Eun-kyeong during a regular press briefing at the Government Complex in Sejong.
Of the 87 new cases, 34 are in Daegu and 13 are in North Gyeongsang Province, the KCDC said. The total number of confirmed cases in Daegu and North Gyeongsang, the two main epicenters of the outbreak here, stood at 6,275 and 1,203, respectively.
Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province saw their tally rise by 35 to 644. The number of confirmed cases in Seoul rose by 17 to 299, with more than 90 cases linked to a call center in the Guro District and another 20 cases linked to a Protestant church and an internet cafe in Dongdaemun District.
The cases in Incheon rose by four to 36, with 19 linked to the Guro call center. Gyeonggi Province saw confirmed cases climb by 14 to 309, with 60 linked to the church in Seongnam and another 36 tied to the Guro call center.
Infection clusters accounted for 80.6 percent of the total confirmed cases as of Friday.