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South Korea reports zero new domestic coronavirus cases

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South Korean nurses wearing protective gear prepare for a shift caring for patients infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus at Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital in Daegu on April 29, 2020. – South Korea once had the largest outbreak outside China, where the disease first emerged but appears to have brought it under control with an extensive “trace, test and treat” programme. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

South Korea reported zero new locally transmitted coronavirus cases Thursday, the first time no infections have been recorded since the disease was detected in the country more than 70 days ago.

Health authorities reported one new death, taking the toll to 247.

The country has seen 10,765 cases since its first infection was reported on February 18.

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For a time it had the world’s second-largest outbreak before the spread was brought under control through widespread testing and a contact-tracing drive, along with widely observed social distancing.

With a dwindling number of cases, the South held a national election on April 15, becoming among the first countries with a major outbreak to do so since the global pandemic began.

The election was run with a raft of safety measures in place, including a requirement that voters wear face masks and gloves.

It saw the highest turnout for a generation and handed President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic party a parliamentary majority in what was seen as recognition of officials’ handling of the outbreak.

“For the first time in 72 days, we have zero new domestic cases,” President Moon posted on his Facebook account.

No one had been infected at polling stations, he added.

“This is the strength of South Korea and its people,” the president said.

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