S. Korea confirms 7,755 COVID-19 infections, 94 cases related to cluster spread from Guro-gu call center
Updated: 2020-03-11 17:10:35 KST
South Korea remains on alert today as a virus cluster connected to a call center in one of the busiest areas of Seoul has gained a foothold in the more populated capital region.
The number of coronavirus cases nationwide has topped 77-hundred with at least 60 fatalities.
So far, more than 90 people have tested positive among the call center's employees and their families. Arirang News' Kim Mok-yeon is live on site where this latest cluster infection started.
Mok-yeon, this infection is raising alarm as it's the biggest cluster contamination the nation's capital and the surrounding area have seen - more than half of South Korea's 51 million people live here.
Tell us, what is it like there?
Conn-young, I'm here in Guro-gu District in southwest Seoul.
Behind me is the building where the call center that caused nearly a hundred infections is located.
Authorities confirmed a total of 94 COVID-19 cases were linked to the call center on Wednesday, which is the largest cluster transmission in the capital.
This is up at least 30 from yesterday when the cluster infection on the 11th floor of the building was first reported.
As of Wednesday, South Korea has had at least 60 deaths and 7,755 infections, up 242 infections from the previous day.
Though more than half of the new cases are still from Daegu, 53 cases were from the capital Seoul, hit hard by the infections from the call center.
But there are worries that the number of cases in the capital could even rise further.
That's mainly because this call center is located near the Guro and Sindorim subway stations, which are considered major transportation hubs and a transfer center for people traveling to the densely populated Gangnam area as well as Incheon and Gyeonggi-do Province.
And many of the confirmed call center employees who come from across the capital region took public transportation on their daily commute.
Another reason is because authorities are in the process of testing some 500? others who work on the seventh to ninth floors of the call center building and are tracing those who have been in contact with the infected patients.
Mokyeon, I want to move to Daegu and the nearby Gyeongsangbuk-do Province - the hardest hit region here in South Korea in which 90 percent of the total COVID-19 caseload in the country make up. How are things looking down there?
Well, Conn-young, it's not looking so good.
Just on Tuesday, authorities reported that the newly confirmed cases in Daegu city had dropped below the 100 mark, signaling a slowdown from the past couple of days, but the number of additional cases rose back to 131 on Wednesday.
A total of 5,794 people have tested positive in Daegu, which is the most cases of any part of the country by far.
The majority of infections in the area came from a cluster infection from the Shincheonji religious group.
But according to the Daegu city mayor Kwon Young-jin on Wednesday, ten employees from 6 call centers in the city have been infected, raising concerns of more cluster infections in the area.
The mayor says that the city is in the process of investigating the entire workforce at the 56 call centers enrolled in the Korea Contact Center Association as well as other private call centers.
He also requested the government to designate Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do Province as a special disaster area, and urged financial emergency assistance for the vulnerable and the self-employed.
The government also announced that it will designate Italy and Iran as "quarantine management zones" following recent surges in COVID-19 cases in those two countries.
Tell us more about that.
Sure, the designation means that starting Thursday, anyone who arrives in South Korea after visiting Italy and Iran will be required to get fever checks and submit papers on their health condition.
In a briefing just hours ago, Yoon Tae-ho, the quarantine chief of the central disaster relief headquarters said that the designation took effect at 12AM.
People coming in from those countries are required to install a special mobile application to report their conditions,
They are subject to special monitoring even after their arrival, and if needed some might even be quarantined in advance to get tested.
Seoul has previously announced similar measures on people arriving from China, Hong Kong and Macao.