The number of new daily coronavirus cases in South Korea bounced back to above 40 on Thursday as domestic infections climbed up.
The country added 43 cases, raising the total caseload to 14,499, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
It marked the first time since July 29 that the daily rise in COVID-19 cases reached above 40.
Of the newly identified cases, 23 were domestic infections, reaching its highest level since July 25. The latest tally marked an uptick from 13 cases Tuesday and 15 cases Wednesday.
Locally transmitted cases also outnumbered imported cases for the first time in 13 days.
Of the local transmissions, 16 were from the greater Seoul area -- five in Seoul and 11 in Gyeonggi Province. The southeastern port city of Busan also reported three more COVID-19 cases.
Health authorities are on high alert over virus outbreaks at churches, offices and restaurants.
A total of 15 cases have been traced to a coffee shop and a restaurant, both of them located in southern Seoul, up two from a day earlier, the KCDC said.
One more patient was traced to a church in the eastern Seoul ward of Songpa, bringing total infections from the church to 22, the KCDC added.
Health authorities said 336 people who attended an Islamic festival in Cheongju, where six virus patients were confirmed Wednesday, tested negative for COVID-19. Cheongju is located some 130 kilometers south of Seoul.
"Due to heavy rain, people tend to spend more time indoors, and it is also difficult to ventilate, which increases infection risks," Kwon Jun-wook, a senior health official, said at a briefing. "However, we must keep up virus prevention measures."
Infections coming in from overseas have risen steadily by double-digit numbers for 42 consecutive days.
Of the 20 newly reported imported cases, six were detected at quarantine checkpoints at ports and airports.
By country, five cases were from the United States, followed by Russia with four and Uzbekistan with two.
The total number of imported cases in the country is now at 2,520.
In Busan, health authorities reported two more virus-infected Russian sailors. Since June, 94 seafarers from nine Russia-flagged ships docked in Busan have tested positive for COVID-19.
The KCDC said a total of 111 coronavirus patients in critical condition in 34 hospitals across the country have been administered with remdesivir, an experimental drug conventionally used for Ebola.
For the development of blood plasma-based treatments, 1,158 people who fully recovered from the virus have expressed their willingness to donate their blood plasma, according to the KCDC. Among them, health authorities said they have collected samples of plasma from 772 people.
The country reported no additional deaths, keeping the death toll at 302, according to the KCDC, with the mortality rate reaching 2.08 percent.
The number of patients fully cured of the virus reached 13,501, up 95 from the previous day, while 696 are currently under treatment, down 52 from a day earlier.
South Korea has carried out 1,606,487 tests since Jan. 3. (Yonhap)