By Heekyong Yang
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea reported more recoveries from the coronavirus than new infections on Saturday for the second day in a row, as a downward trend in daily cases raised hopes that Asia’s biggest epidemic outside China may be slowing.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) recorded 107 new coronavirus cases on Saturday compared with 110 a day earlier, taking the national tally to 8,086.
In contrast, 204 patients were released from hospitals where they had been isolated for treatment. The death toll rose by one to 73.
For the second day in a row the daily number of recovered people exceeded that of new confirmed cases since South Korea’s first patient was confirmed on January 20.
With the latest figures, South Korea has continued to see a steady drop in the number of new cases, raising hopes that the outbreak may be slowing in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
Officials, however, urged to stay vigilant as the emergence of clusters of infection in the capital Seoul and metropolitan areas continues.
“It’s the weekend, and we understand that you feel frustrated, but please stay at home and avoid contacting with other people as much as possible,” a health ministry official told a briefing.
Of the latest 107 cases, 62 were from the hard-hit southeastern city of Daegu where a fringe Christian church at the centre of the epidemic is located, while 15 and 13 were in Gyeonggi and Seoul, respectively. Daegu and Gyeongbuk province have seen a drop in new case numbers.
South Korea, which has the second highest number of infections in Asia after China, has been testing hundreds of thousands of people and tracking potential carriers like detectives, using cell phone and satellite technology.
The KCDC has distributed guidelines for publishing travel logs of coronavirus patients to local government, factoring in the National Human Rights Commission of Korea’s suggestions to ensure both public health protection and privacy, said Kwon Jun-wook, deputy director at the KCDC, at a briefing.
The guidelines advise not to include private information such as detailed residence addresses and workplaces.
The new coronavirus has infected more than 138,000 people worldwide and left more than 5,000 dead.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Michael Perry)