Imported infections hamper efforts to stabilize new virus cases

Lee Han-soo  Published 2020.07.15  12:41  Updated 2020.07.16 14:12


Korea's new virus cases stayed below 40 for the second day on Tuesday, but imported infections hindered health officials’ struggles to contain Covid-19.

The nation reported 39 additional coronavirus cases, including local infections, raising the cumulative caseload to 13,551 as of midnight Tuesday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Sixty-six more people were recovered, raising the number of cured patients to 12,348, with 941 receiving treatment. The death toll remained unchanged at 289. With a population of 50 million, the country has carried out 1,431,316 tests since Jan. 3.

The public health authorities identified 28 imported infections on Tuesday, prolonging a double-digit occurrence to 20 consecutive days. Of the new imported cases, 23 were detected at port and airport checkpoints. The accumulated number of imported cases has reached 1,919, accounting for about 14 percent of all COVID-19 infections.

The continuous increase in imported cases has forced the health authorities to take stronger airport and port quarantine measures to prevent them from spreading to local communities.

The government is moving to temporarily suspend the port shift crew's entry and exit while considering the additional designation for its new anti-coronavirus measure for travelers arriving from high-risk nations.

Korea has designated four countries -- Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – as high-risk nations, requiring travelers to submit a certification, which shows they have tested negative for the virus dated within 48 hours of their departure time.

"We will decide whether to designate more high-risk nations soon," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said. "The government will apply enhanced quarantine measures to the four high-risk nations, such as visa restrictions, flight control, and submission of a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) negative confirmation certification."

Countries up for review include the Philippines and Uzbekistan.

As the outbreaks of Covid-19 at ports have continued, the government is also planning to temporarily suspend immigration for foreign sailors.

Under the new regulation, sailors entering the country to relieve other ship crew members will not be able to enter the country without a visa for the time being and submit a PCR negative confirmation certification upon entry.

Although local virus cases recorded the lowest level since June 22, Seoul confirmed six new cases and surrounding Gyeonggi Province reported three more cases. Health officials also confirmed one case in Gwangju and Daejeon.

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