SEOUL (REUTERS) – South Korea reported 146 new coronavirus cases on Friday (March 27), the highest number in a week, its disease control agency said on Saturday, with the country suffering a rise in imported cases from Europe and the United States in recent days.
The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) did not say how many of Friday’s new cases were imported as it was still investigating.
The daily tally brought the country’s total infections to 9,478 according to the KCDC. The death toll rose by five to 144.
The country has reported similar daily numbers for the past two weeks, down from a high of over 900 in late February.
Of the 9,478, the number of imported cases was at 363 as of Saturday.
The recent surge in imported cases has prompted authorities to toughen entry rules for travellers from Europe and the United States.
The 64 new cases registered on March 22 was the lowest since the peak of 909 cases recorded on Feb. 29.
The government has sought to convince a restless public that several more weeks of social distancing and self-isolation may be needed to give health authorities time to tamp down the smaller but still steady stream of new cases.
“People may no longer want to maintain social distancing as the spring has come and flowers are blossoming,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a news conference on Friday. “But isn’t it better to work harder to end the current pain then to suffer it for a long time?”
People arriving from the United States have to spend two weeks in quarantine and those showing symptoms like fever will be tested. Tighter rules, including a mandatory test and quarantine took effect on Thursday for visitors from Europe on long-term visas.