People are in line to take a COVID-19 test. (Yonhap)
The number of daily new coronavirus cases in South Korea exceeded 300 for the fourth consecutive day Saturday due to sporadic cluster infections across the country, casting concerns over a third wave of the pandemic.
The country added 386 more COVID-19 cases, including 361 local infections, raising the total caseload to 30,403, according to the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The daily caseload has stayed in the triple digits since Nov.
8, with the figure exceeding 300 for the first time since late August on Wednesday with 313 cases. The country confirmed 343 cases on Thursday and 363 on Friday.
The accumulative number of infections topped the 30,000 mark Friday, 10 months after the country reported its first case on Jan. 20.
The South Korean health authorities said a third wave of virus infections is in progress in the greater Seoul area, following the first in February-March in Daegu and the second in August also in Seoul.
They have put constant efforts to control cluster infections occurring sporadically across the nation linked to private gatherings, public facilities and hospitals.
The state-run social distancing level was raised by one notch to Level 1.5 under a new five-tier scheme in the greater Seoul and southern city of Gwangju for two weeks since Wednesday in order to prevent another wave of virus infections.
The city of Suncheon in South Jeolla Province, about 415 km southeast of Seoul, started to enforce Level 2 social distancing rules Friday as a precautionary move, becoming the first municipality in the country to enforce the third highest level.
Of the 361 locally transmitted cases, 262 were identified in the capital area, home to half of the country's 51 million population. Seoul added 154 more cases, while the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and western port city of Incheon reported 86 and
22 cases, respectively.
At the same time, the daily number of COVID-19 cases reported outside the greater Seoul area reached 99, including 19 from North Chungcheong Province, 18 from South Jeolla Province and 14 from Gwangwon Province.
The number of new imported cases came to 25, down from 43 the previous day.
Of the newly confirmed imported cases, 12 were from the United States, followed by three from Japan. The total number of imported cases is now at 4,380.
The country reported two additional deaths from COVID-19, raising the total to 503.
More deaths could be reported down the road as the number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 86, up two from Friday.
The number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries came to 102, raising the total to 26,365.(Yonhap)