December 15, 2020 10:56
The head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday warned that new coronavirus infections could rise to as many as 1,200 a day unless a total lockdown is enforced.
Jeong Eun-kyeong forecast the new wave of infections will "continue for the time being" and each coronavirus carrier is currently infecting 1.28 other people while "asymptomatic carriers are spreading the virus further."
But she said infections "could be reduced through tougher social distancing and preemptive testing."
Health authorities will set up another 150 test facilities in Seoul, surrounding Gyeonggi Province and Incheon for the next three weeks, where even people without symptoms and who did not knowingly come into contact with coronavirus carriers can be tested for free.
Local transmissions averaged 734.1 cases over the past week, which is already close to the 800 that would justify a total lockdown. The number of seriously ill patients rose to a record 185 as of Monday midnight.
The KDCA said the ratio of elderly patients stands at 32 percent compared to 22.9 percent a week ago, resulting in more serious cases and deaths.
On Tuesday morning, some 880 cases were added to Korea's daily tally of infections, bringing the total to 44,364 cases so far.
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