Korea saw new COVID-19 cases rise back on Monday, as cluster infections continued to occur at nursing hospitals and imported cases maintained steady figures, public health authorities said Tuesday.
The nation reported 125 new cases as of midnight Monday, up from 78 cases a day earlier, pushing up the total to 9,786, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Four more patients died of the new coronavirus, swelling the death toll to 162.
Hospitals cured and discharged 180 more cured patients, raising the number of recovered patients to 5,408, which is higher than the 4,216 patients under treatment.
The nation has completed tests on 410,564 people and confirmed negative results from 383,886 suspected cases. It is now testing 16,892 people
While chairing a video Cabinet meeting, President Moon Jae-in said that the nation needs to take far more stringent measures and thorough control on continuously rising imported cases. “If the newly arrived people violate self-quarantine guidance, the government ought to take stern and strong legal steps,” Moon said. The President’s remark came as the nation is set to apply a two-week mandatory self-isolation on all entrants from abroad, from Wednesday.
“A tiny hole breaks the entire dam,” President Moon said. “At a time when entire people are enduring inconvenience for the safety of the entire community, we should never allow one individual to squander all the hard work.”
Moon’s comment came as media reports say some new arrivals, including foreigners and Korean returnees, have ignored the self-isolation guidance, touring and visiting markets. Officials said they would consider expelling violators to their countries.
Noting that the global outbreaks of COVID-19 are becoming increasingly dangerous, Moon said it is difficult to predict how broad the pandemic’s adverse effects will affect and how long they will last.
“Korea’s response is receiving a relatively favorable evaluation from abroad,” Moon noted. “However, the nation has a long way to go before entering into a stable situation. I hope public health authorities will make extra efforts to reduce the mortality rate.”
Touching on the delayed opening of the new school year and the replacement of classes with online lectures, the chief executive called for the education ministry to see that there would be students excluded from the internet study.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced the government has decided to postpone the schools’ new semester opening once again to April 9 again to prevent the COVID-19 spread.
“We believe it is reasonable for schools to open in sequence from April 9, and readjust remaining academic schedules accordingly,” Chung said.
Meanwhile, the government is working to come up with detailed guidelines on shelling out relief funds to households hit hard by the new coronavirus. Officials said they would announce more detailed guidelines next week.
Vice Minister of Economy and Finance Koo Yun-cheol reiterated Tuesday said that the primary principle is the government would pay up to 1 million won ($820) in purchasing coupons to 14 million households at the bottom 70 percent of income group.
Those who will receive emergency relief money are four-member families with a total income of 7 million won or less. The government plans to pay the money to those families before mid-May. “It would be better to provide relief money to all citizens as much as possible, but the government must consider its limited fiscal resources,” Koo said.
In the same vein, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it would exempt or cut the payment of health insurance fees for low-income families suffering from economic problems due to COVID-19, retroactive to March.
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