New virus cases bounce back to over 100 on multiple infection clusters

27-Oct-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The country’s daily new COVID-19 cases has bounced back to three digits as sporadic infection clusters have emerged especially in the Seoul metropolitan area, the health authorities said Monday.

Recently in Seoul and its surrounding areas, there has been an increasing trend of group infections reported at elderly care hospitals and facilities, rehabilitation centers, family gatherings, and private ballet academies, at which people are vulnerable to the disease.

In particular, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) is on edge as the number of hikers going on picnics has increased in the wake of the fall foliage season. A possible transmission among clubbers on Halloween this weekend is also a concern as the country suffered major outbreaks of infection clusters at clubs in Itaewon and Shinchon, two nightlife districts in Seoul. Nearly 300 cases were traced to the group infections.

According to the KDCA, the nation added 119 cases including 94 locally transmitted cases for Sunday, raising the total caseload to 25,955. It marked a sharp rise from 61 cases reported Saturday and 77, Friday.

Among the newly detected locally transmitted cases, 20 were reported in Seoul and 65 in Gyeonggi Province. Three were detected in Incheon, west of Seoul, and North Gyeongsang Province also reported three new cases.

As of Sunday, a total of 40 COVID-19 cases have been traced to a private gathering in Guro, Seoul, up 13 from the previous day. A senior citizens’ care facility in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, reported 59 infections so far, while a hospital in Gunpo, Geyonggi Province, added four more cases, raising the total there to 44.

Chun Eun-mi, a professor of the pulmonology department at Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital, said, “If we do not pay attention to complying with social distancing rules, similar mass infections associated with the nightclub in Itaewon in May will occur again.”

“The impact of group infections has now become greater as there are more gatherings, such as end of the year parties. Furthermore, the virus will be more active in the cold weather, and winter is just around the corner,” Chun said.

Kim Tak, an infectious disease professor at Soonchunhyang University Hospital, said, “Because many people eat and drink in the same place at a nightclub, they will not be able to keep their distance or wear a mask.”

“The coronavirus spread is still ongoing, so we should refrain from doing anything that increases the risk,” Kim said.

Meanwhile, free vaccinations for the seasonal flu for the elderly aged 62 and older began Monday. Some local governments, which temporarily halted vaccinations, also resumed the programme. Experts recommend elderly people make an appointment at a local clinic or institutions so as not to wait too long.

“It is common for blood vessels to contract in winter and death from heart and cerebrovascular diseases increases due to sudden changes in temperature,” Jung Eun-kyeong, a commissioner at the KDCA, said during a regular briefing at the government Complex in Sejong. “If you go to a medical institution early in the morning and wait long or outside in cold weather, it can affect your heart and cerebrovascular system.”

The country’s top health official has been saying the free flu vaccination programme will continue, as there have been no links found between the vaccine and several deaths among those who received flu shots.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) and domestic experts recommend flu vaccination for high-risk groups. The benefits of vaccination are much greater,” Jung said, expressing concern about a potential “twindemic” of COVID-19 and flu during winter.

“Such a risk only underscores the need for flu vaccines,” she said.

Health minister Park Neung-hoo also reiterated his stance on the vaccine programme, saying “It is unscientific to simply halt vaccination when there is no link between the flu shots and the deaths.”

“In fact, some experts believe it would be dangerous to stop the programme,” he added.


Category: Korea

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