South Korea''s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic hit another snag on Tuesday (2 June) as church-linked cluster infections in the Seoul metropolitan area continued to rise ahead of further school re-openings.
The country reported 38 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total caseload to 11,541, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
All of the new domestic cases were reported in Seoul and Incheon, west of the capital, and Gyeonggi province that surrounds the capital city, reports Yonhap News Agency.
A string of virus cases traced to churches in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan area have emerged as a new source of concerns as the country is still wrestling with infections tied to nightclubs and a distribution centre in the greater Seoul area.
But the daily number of new infections appears to be on a downward trend after it hit a nearly two-month high of 75 on May 28 amid spiking cases tied to the logistics centre west of Seoul.
At least 40 cases have been traced to churches in Incheon and Gyeonggi province, according to the KCDC and local governments.
"Large-scale infections are feared to come in the Seoul metropolitan area, but we can succeed in containing the virus spread when citizens raise their guards against the pandemic to break the chain of virus transmissions," Yonhap News Agency quoted Sohn Young-rae, a senior health official, as saying in a briefing.
The sporadic cluster infections were putting health authorities to the test as some 1.8 million students will return to school on Wednesday as part of the third phase of school re-openings after high school seniors became the first group to do so on 20 May.
After 45 days of stricter social distancing, the country switched to the "everyday life quarantine" scheme in May, enabling citizens to carry out social and economic activities under quarantine rules.
The country's death toll currently stands at 272.
The story has been published via a syndicated feed, only the headline has been changed
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