Korea's new Covid-19 cases surged above the 110 range for the first time in nearly four months on Friday, as health officials confirmed a record high number of imported infections.
The nation reported 113 additional coronavirus patients, including 86 imported cases, raising the total caseload to 14,902 as of midnight Friday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The tally marked the first time that the nation confirmed more than 100 cases since April 1.
Forty-nine more people were recovered from the disease to raise the number of cured patients to 12,866, with 928 under treatment. The death toll remained unchanged at 297. The country, with a population of 50 million, has carried out 1,518,634 tests since Jan. 3.
Of the 86 imported cases, 81 were detected at port and airport checkpoints, and most of the cases have been traced back to Korean workers returning from a construction worksite in Iraq and a Russia-flagged fishing vessel docked in Busan. The double-digit figure for imported cases extended to 30 consecutive days.
The government has completed chartering 293 Korean workers from Iraq. Ninety showed virus symptoms, and 36 tested positive for the virus.
Health officials are on high alert as more cases may occur after the Covid-19 diagnostic tests are over on the remaining workers.
The officials also confirmed 32 virus cases at a Russia-flagged fishing vessel docked in Busan. Russian vessels have recently also accounted for a lion’s share of imported cases here with a cumulative total having reached 78 from eight vessels that made port in Korea since June.
In response to the continued Covid-19 cases from Russian boats, the government is considering adding Russia to its high-risk countries list.
On July 13, the government implemented a new regulation mandating travelers arriving from four high-risk nations -- Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan -- to submit a certification, obligating them to submit a paper guaranteeing negative response to the virus dated within 48 hours of their departure time. It later added two more countries -- the Philippines and Uzbekistan -- to the list.
The public health authorities also confirmed 22 cases in the greater Seoul area on Friday, including Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, where about half of the country's 50-million population lives. The remaining five cases were confirmed in Busan.