Coronavirus: South Korea reports lowest number of new cases in four weeks

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people in Seoul have disinfected their own neighborhoods

South Korea has recorded the lowest number of new coronavirus cases since infection rates peaked four weeks ago, fueling the hope that Asia's worst outbreak outside China is easing.

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The country has registered 64 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 8,961 with 111 deaths.

But health officials warn against complacency, saying the country still faces a long war against infection.

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Southern Europe is currently at the center of the pandemic.

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Italy recorded 651 new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to 5,476, while Spain recorded 394 deaths, totaling 1,720.

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In New York City, the mayor warned of a worsening outbreak, with damage accelerated by the scarcity of essential medical supplies.

And the expectation that the battle against the virus will be long has been reinforced by news from Japan that its prime minister admitted for the first time that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics may be postponed.

How different is South Korea's approach?

Nearly 20,000 people are tested for coronavirus every day in South Korea, more people per capita than anywhere else in the world.

The country has created a network of public and private laboratories and offers dozens of drive-through centers, where people with symptoms can check their health status.

South Korea developed its approach after an outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) in 2015, when 36 people died in the country, which had the second highest number of Mers cases after Saudi Arabia.

Mers forced the country to reevaluate its approach to infectious diseases and its Centers for Disease Control created a special department to prepare for the worst, an action that appears to have been worthwhile.

Laws on management and public sharing of information about patients with infectious diseases changed significantly after Mers and can be seen in action this year when the government used telephone alerts to tell people if they were in the vicinity of a patient.

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This weekend, the government stepped up preventive action by sending emergency alerts asking people to stay away from places that encourage mass meetings, such as churches, karaoke rooms, nightclubs and gyms.

He also asked religious leaders to check the followers' temperature and keep them at least two meters away during the services they deemed necessary.

Several churches are facing legal action after violating the guidelines.

Why does South Korea fear a new wave?

The country saw two waves of infections, Reports the Yonhap news agency, the first from January 20 with the first confirmed case and the second with mass infections among a religious group.

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Passengers arriving from London to Incheon are in quarantine for two weeks

Now, it is feared that imported cases could fuel a third wave.

The government plans to install about 20 telephone booth-style test facilities at Incheon Airport to speed up the process of testing all arrivals from Europe.

The new entry procedures started on Sunday. So far, 152 people have arrived in the country with symptoms of the virus and are awaiting test results.

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