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With new cases, South Korean investigators comb digital data to trace club cluster

More than 100 new cases linked to the nightclubs have brought fears of a second wave of infections in a country held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story.

Health authorities have tracked and tested thousands of people linked to the nightclubs and bars in Seoul’s Itaewon nightlife neighbourhood, but want to find others who they have not been able to identify.

“We are using telecom station information and credit card transactions from the nightclubs to identify 1,982 of those who are not available,” health ministry official Yoon Tae-ho told a briefing.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Tuesday said at least 102 people have tested positive in connection with the cases linked to nightclubs and bars.

Seoul mayor Park Won-soon said 7,272 people had been tested in connection with the cluster, including family members or coworkers of clubgoers. Officials had identified 10,905 people who were in the Itaewon area when the cluster of cases is believed to have got going this month, based on cell tower information, and another 494 who used credit cards, Park said.

Park said the number of people getting tested had doubled as a result of the new service.

South Korea has been widely praised for its prompt action on its epidemic with massive testing and aggressive contact-tracing, significantly reducing the rate of new infections in recent weeks to fewer than 10 cases a day before this new outbreak.

 

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