|A man wearing a face mask walks along a wall outside the Deoksu Palace in Seoul, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. AP|
South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases again spiked to over 100 on Wednesday after a brief drop the previous day, as cluster infections in the greater Seoul area continued to further strain the country's antivirus fight.
The country added 103 more COVID-19 cases, including 96 domestic infections, raising the total caseload to 26,146, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
It marked a rise from 88 posted Tuesday but a slight decrease from 119 added Monday.
The latest upticks were mostly traced to senior nursing homes, hospitals and other medical facilities, but there have also been group infections from family meetings, a golf gathering and a day care center.
Since the country eased the social distancing scheme to the lowest level on Oct. 12, which allowed people to resume most of their daily activities, the daily figures have showed ups and downs, hovering around 100.
Health authorities warned that the country is currently at a critical juncture, as daily numbers may further pile up on a potential resurgence in virus cases as people travel to enjoy autumn vacation.
Halloween-related potential upticks are among concerns as well, as entertainment facilities have been considered hotbeds for cluster infections.
Shortly after bringing under control the spread of the virus stemming from a minor church sect in Daegu, whose caseload hovered above 5,000, the country faced another major infection cluster in greater Seoul in May, traced to clubs in the nightlife district of Itaewon.
Under the Level 1 social distancing scheme, clubs are allowed to operate as long as they follow basic guidelines, such as keeping entry logs.
When South Korea adopted the Level 2 policy, all entertainment businesses, including karaoke rooms, were ordered to fully shut down, regardless of the ceiling of 50 people for other shops and facilities.
Health authorities said a major infection cluster in the greater Seoul area could lead to another wave of the pandemic, as the metropolitan area houses around half of the nation's population.
Of the newly identified local infections, 23 cases were reported in Seoul and 28 cases in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital.
Incheon, located west of Seoul, added 10 more patients, and Gangwon Province reported 14 new cases. Seven cases were traced to the central city of Daejeon.
A golf gathering in Yongin, south of Seoul, which reported its first case last week, reported 31 more patients as of Tuesday noon.
A rehabilitation hospital in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, had 137 patients, and a total of 42 COVID-19 cases were traced to a family gathering in Guro Ward of Seoul.
The country added seven imported cases.
Two patients were from Ethiopia and the Philippines each. There were also cases from Jordan, Turkey and the Netherlands.
The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients remained unchanged at 52.
South Korea reported one additional death, raising the total to 461.
The fatality rate reached 1.76 percent.
The number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 24,073, up 92 from the previous day. More than 92 percent of the patients reported here have been cured.
South Korea has carried out 2,582,960 COVID-19 tests so far, including 15,373 the previous day. (Yonhap)