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COVID-19: 849 schools shut down as infections rise in South Korea

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As the coronavirus infections soared to a five-month high in South Korea on Friday, a record number of schools nationwide were forced to shut down to protect children and educators from the novel coronavirus.

A total of 849 schools stopped classes, the Ministry of Education said, the biggest number since the country reopened schools on May 20.

The figure broke the previous record of 838 on May 28 when a cluster of infections popped up in a logistics centre in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province.

In Seoul, the northern ward of Seongbuk, where the new COVID-19 hotbed Sarang Jeil Church is located, was the hardest hit with 79 schools affected, and the nearby ward of Gangbuk saw 40 schools shut down.

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As of Friday morning, 732 coronavirus infections have been tied to the church.

In Gyeonggi Province, 279 schools, including 207 in Yongin and 49 in Paju, couldn’t run inperson classes, due to a pocket of infections tied to a local church and a Starbucks cafe.

The southern port city of Busan reported that 317 schools shut down, while Wonju of Gangwon Province recorded closures of 96 schools.

Since the country’s schools started to reopen on May 20, 213 students and 48 faculty members and teachers have tested positive for the virus. All schools reopened by June 8.

In the capital Seoul, which took up nearly half of the country’s new infections on Friday, 10 people, seven students and three teachers and school officials were As confirmed to have contracted the virus in the span of 24 hours from 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, a cell of infections tied to a sports academy in Seongbuk Ward added three more cases, affecting 22 students from 14 schools.

The country reported 324 new cases Friday, the eighth straight day of triple-digit jumps and the first time that the number passed the 300 mark since March 8 when it recorded 367 infection cases.

The country’s total caseload is 16,670.9.

Yonhap/NAN

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