Korea keeps flattened curve of new virus cases

Shim Hyun-tai  Published 2020.03.25  14:09  Updated 2020.03.26 13:39


- Nation expands mandatory 2-week self-isolation to all arrivals from US

Korea curbed new virus cases to 100 or lower for the 14th day on Wednesday, but the government will expand obligatory two-week self-quarantine to all arrivals from the U.S. from Friday to stem imported infections.

The nation detected 100 new cases as of midnight Tuesday, up from 76 a day ago, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The accumulated total rose to 9,137, 3,739 of whom left hospitals fully recovered, recording the complete cure rate of 40.8 percent. The death toll rose to 126, pushing up the mortality rate to 1.38 percent.

As the number of patients who were confirmed weeks ago increases, the rate of fully cured cases will rise, according to experts. However, the fatality rate has also continued to climb from 0.4 percent early this month to more than three times higher level now, they pointed out.

Public health officials should provide proper medical services to the high-risk group of elderly citizens with underlying diseases, the experts added.

While new infections in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, the nation's two worst-hit regions, showed signs of abating, new infections in Seoul and neighboring areas, home to about 20 million people, have been on a steady rise.

Out of the 100 new cases on Tuesday, 51 came from abroad, according to the KCDC. “We confirmed 34 new cases at the airport. Twenty-eight were Korean nationals with the other six were foreigners,” said Yoon Tae-ho, chief coordinator at the central headquarters to deal with COVID-19. “The imported infections confirmed in local communities were 17 – 15 Koreans and two foreigners.”

Korea had enforced a two-week quarantine period and virus tests for all long-term arrivals from Europe, regardless of symptoms, to contain imported virus cases.

Yoon told reporters that all passengers from the United States would also be required to self-isolate at home for two weeks starting Friday.

If a passenger coming from the U.S. shows symptoms, the passenger will be quarantined, Yoon said.

Foreigners and Koreans without symptoms coming from the U.S. for long-term stays will be required to self-isolate at home for two weeks. If they show symptoms during self-isolation, they will get tested by local health authorities, Yoon said.

As the accumulated virus cases have surpassed 50,000 in the U.S., President Donald Trump called his South Korean counterpart on Tuesday night (KST), asking for the latter to provide medical support, such as diagnostic kits. President Moon Jae-in promised to provide maximal support “within the available extent.”

Just hours after the telephone request, Trump boasted about the U.S. virus detection system, saying it is better than South Korea’s, according to foreign reports.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Employment and Labor said it would offer the employment support fund to help employers maintain the current workforce by subsidizing up to 90 percent of their labor costs for three months. Budget spending to this end will increase from 100.4 billion won ($81.7 million) to 500.4 billion won.

As of midnight Tuesday, Korea reported 100 new COVID-19 cases, which raised the total to 9,137. The nation also discharged 223 patients from the hospital as they have fully recovered from the pandemic. Six more patients have died of COVID-19.

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