South Korea reported 50 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, with the government on alert over new clusters of infections linked to religious facilities in Daejeon and Gwangju.
Of the new cases, 28 were locally transmitted and the rest imported from overseas, pushing the country’s total caseload to 13,293, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Of the 22 imported cases, five people were detected during the quarantine screening process at the border and the rest while under home quarantine after arrival.
As for locally transmitted cases, 15 cases were registered in Gwangju, which has become a new hotbed of the virus outbreak here. The new cases are traced to a marketing event which led to secondary transmission at a nursing home, a church and sauna.
Six cases were reported in Daejeon, four in Seoul, two in Incheon and one in Gyeonggi Province.
As Korea continues to see cases linked to small-scale church gatherings, the government has decided to put in place tightened social distancing rules at churches, effective from Friday. Under the new rules, any small gatherings outside regular worship services will be banned and all church visitors will have to register their identities through a QR code-based system before their entry.
So far, 12,019 people, or 90.4 percent, have been released from quarantine after making full recovery, up 49 from a day earlier. Some 987 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine.
Two more people died, bringing the death toll to 287. The overall fatality rate stands at 2.16 percent -- 2.65 percent for men and 1.78 percent for women. The rate is much higher for those in their 80s or over at 25.13 percent and those in their 70s at 9.36 percent.
The country has carried out 1,371,771 tests since Jan. 3, with 23,912 people awaiting results as of Thursday.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org