South Korea reports single digit new coronavirus cases since surge began

South Korea posted the fewest number of new coronavirus cases since an outbreak at a religious sect in late February spiked daily infections to nearly 1,000 and set off a massive testing and tracing regime credited with curbing the virus’s spread.

South Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said it confirmed eight new cases in a 24 hour period, the lowest since Feb 20 when the number of infections began rising exponentially after a parishioner of the 212,000-member Shincheonji church was confirmed with the virus.

Prior to what has been labelled “patient no. 31,” South Korea had been averaging about three new cases a day. While the number of new cases could flare up again, reaching a single-digit daily tally marks a milestone in South Korea’s efforts to contain the virus without taking harsh measures such as imposing a lockdown or banning travel.

South Korea instead launched a massive testing campaign that’s being used as a model in other countries that included setting up drive-in centres and phone booth-like stalls for testing.Health authorities have also leveraged the country’s high-tech connectivity to aggressively track down potential infections by tracking patients’ credit card transactions and smartphone usage.

CDC reported two more deaths in the recent 24 hour period, raising the total to 234. The number of confirmed cases rose to 10,661 while 8,042 virus patients have been discharged. President Moon Jae-in on Sunday said South Korea’s progress gave hope that the Covid-19 disease caused by the coronavirus is “surmountable” in other parts of the world.

“The government will prepare for new daily lives and the new world order ‘post-Covid’ with the unified power of the citizens,” Moon said.US President Trump spoke to Moon on Saturday and expressed appreciation for South Korea’s help in procuring Covid-19 tests for the United States. Seoul is expected to announce on Sunday whether it will extend its social distancing campaign that was already extended once on April 4.