Korea reported new Covid-19 cases of below 200 for five consecutive days on Monday, but the government expressed concerns about the growing share of infections with unknown routes and a rise in seriously ill patients.
The nation confirmed 119 new virus cases, including 108 local infections, raising the cumulative caseload to 21,296 as of midnight Sunday.
Two more people died of Covid-19, pushing up the death toll to 336. An additional 151 fully cured people were discharged from quarantine, increasing the total to 16,297. The country has tested 2,051,297 people since Jan. 3, according to the Korea Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention.
"Ten days ago, we saw the number of new virus cases rise to 434 but have managed to pull it down to the 100-people range for the fifth consecutive day," Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo said. "I think this is entirely attributable to the active participation and perseverance of our citizens."
However, the nation has yet to remain complacent as new virus cases are steadily occurring in various regions of the country, with 22 percent of them from infection routes, Park pointed out.
The health-welfare minister expressed concerns about the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday becoming another massive outbreak's source. Chuseok, which falls on Sept. 30-Oct.4 this year, is one of Korea's biggest annual celebrations that reunite long-separated families.
"If the traditional holiday becomes a channel for the spread of the virus all over the country again, we will have to endure great sacrifices," Park said. "Particularly at stake are the lives and health of elderly citizens."
Park reiterated the government’s request that people refrain from making long travels to visiting parents in their hometown and instead stay at home during the five-day holiday.
"The quarantine authorities set this holiday period as a special quarantine period, and are preparing multi-faceted quarantine measures to ensure there is no void in the quarantine and medical system," Park said.
On Monday, the country continued its enhanced social distancing scheme after it was extended by another week following an initial eight-day regulation period in the greater Seoul area, home to half of 51 million South Koreans.
Under the Level 2.5 social distancing, eating at restaurants and small eateries is only allowed until 9 p.m. Franchise coffee chains, bakeries and ice cream parlors are permitted to offer only takeout and delivery.
The government also extended its Level 2 measures across the country by another two weeks until Sept. 20 as cluster infections continued to pop up nationwide.
Korea reported 11 imported cases. Three patients were from the Philippines and India, two from Turkey, and one from Japan, Algeria, and Kyrgyzstan.