|A pedestrian passes by the closed front gate of Manmin Central Church, Guro, Seoul, Sunday, as a number of its members were detected to have been infected by COVID-19. /Yonhap|
By Bahk Eun-ji
The government said Sunday that it will enforce a two-week mandatory self-quarantine for all people arriving here from overseas, starting Wednesday, as the number of "imported cases" of COVID-19 is emerging as a problem.
"Mandatory self-quarantine measures will be expanded to all people arriving from overseas regardless of their nationality and the period of their stay here as an additional countermeasure to prevent the further spread of the virus," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said during a press briefing at the Government Complex in Seoul.
The administration had already enforced a two-week quarantine period and virus tests for all long-term arrivals from Europe, regardless of symptoms. In addition, passengers from the United States for long-term stay have been required to self-isolate at home for two weeks since Friday.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said that out of 105 new cases reported Sunday, the number who were infected outside Korea was 41 ― 23 from Europe, 14 from the United States, and four from Asian countries except China. Daegu and the neighboring North Gyeongsang Province, epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak here, reported 25 of the 105 new cases.
Seoul, the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and Incheon remained on high alert as 42 of the new infections were in the capital including some from a religious sect in Seoul. This brought the total in the capital area to 916.
The KCDC said 16 members of the Manmin Central Church in Seoul, and one in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi Province, were infected with COVID-19. The officials said 70 members of the church attended a service in Muan, South Jeolla Province, located 385 kilometers southwest of Seoul, March 5.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the 105 new infections bring the nation's total to 9,583. The death toll also rose by eight to 152, mostly elderly people with underlying illnesses.
The number of people recovering from the virus exceeded the number of quarantined patients, Saturday, for the first time since Jan. 20, when the first case was detected here, a cautious milestone in the nation's fight against COVID-19.
The government has asked people to stay at home and refrain from activities involving close contact in enclosed places, such as religious gatherings and indoor sports activities, as part of strengthening social distancing measures until April 5.
Korea had released 5,033 fully recovered COVID-19 patients from hospitals as of Saturday, up 222 from a day earlier, the KCDC said.