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Mask-wearing key to antivirus fight even after vaccine arrives: KCDC

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Even after a vaccine is developed, there will be no immediate change to antivirus rules, as people will still have to wear masks and maintain social distancing, health authorities said Thursday.

“At this point, what I want to stress is that after a safe vaccine is secured sufficiently and administered safely, there will be a no change in everyday quarantine,” KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook said at a briefing Thursday. “No vaccine can guarantee 100 percent safety (against the coronavirus).”

He stressed the importance of wearing a mask and keeping social distancing rules, adding that recent COVID-19 patients linked to several clusters in the country either did not properly or did not at all wear masks.

A new cluster of infections was found at a church in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, where some 14 people shared meals after attending a worship service. One patient who works at an elementary school and tested positive Tuesday had infected seven others, including family members, other church members and one colleague, as of Thursday. Out of 90 teachers and students at the school, only one additional person tested positive for the virus, according to health authorities.

Korea saw its new daily COVID-19 infections bounce back above 40 on Thursday for the first time since July 29. The country reported 43 new cases Thursday, including 23 locally transmitted cases, bringing the total caseload to 14,449, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Locally transmitted cases outnumbered imported cases for the first time in 13 days. 

Of the locally transmitted cases, 16 were registered in Greater Seoul -- five in Seoul and 11 in Gyeonggi Province. Three cases were reported in Busan, two in North Gyeongsang Province and one each in South Chungcheong Province and South Jeolla Province.

One more case was confirmed in connection with a church in eastern Seoul, bringing the total related cases there to 22. Two more people tested positive for the virus linked to the cluster at a franchise coffee shop in southern Seoul, with a total of 15 related cases. 

Regarding an Islamic religious event in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, no additional cases were reported. Health authorities tested 336 people who attended the event held on July 31 after six Uzbek attendees tested positive for the virus on Monday and Tuesday. A more in-depth epidemiological study is underway into who was the source of infection.

Some 67 percent of COVID-19 cases have come in from overseas in the past two weeks. The transmission routes for 6.4 percent of cases were unidentified during the period, according to the KCDC.

Of Thursday’s 20 imported cases, six were detected during the quarantine screening process at the border, while the rest were identified while under mandatory self-quarantine in Korea. Twelve of them involved Korean nationals.

By country, 11 were from Asia -- four from Russia, two from Uzbekistan and one each from Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Japan, Pakistan and the Philippines – with seven from the Americas – five from the United States and one each from Mexico and Brazil. One was from France and another from Cameroon.

So far, 13,501 people, or 93.12 percent, have been released from quarantine upon making full recoveries, up 95 from a day earlier. Some 696 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine. Eighteen people remain in serious or critical condition.

With no additional deaths, the death toll stays unchanged at 302. The overall fatality rate stood at 2.08 percent -- 2.42 percent for men and 1.8 percent for women -- as of Thursday.

The country has carried out 1,606,487 tests since Jan. 3, with 18,031 people awaiting results as of Thursday.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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