The number of COVID-19 cases originated from clubs in Itaewon, Seoul increased to 102 as of 12 p.m. on Tuesday. The disease control authorities and local governments are tracking about 2,000 visitors whom they haven’t been able to reach based on the list of people connected to base transceiver stations near Itaewon clubs and credit card transaction history.
This is the first time that the disease control authorities are mobilizing data from base transceiver stations and credit card transactions to identify visitors of multi-use facilities. Previously, the authorities had only used such data to find out locations that some COVID-19 patients have been to.
Text messages recommending COVID-19 tests were sent to 10,905 people whose mobile phones had been connected to base stations near Itaewon clubs, the Seoul metropolitan government said on Tuesday. These are the people who had stayed in the five clubs and bars in Itaewon for over 30 minutes that COVID-19 patients had been to from April 24 to May 6 between midnight to 5 a.m. the next day. The authorities have not reached 1,982 people among 5,517 who had been to the clubs during the period. The Seoul metropolitan government is administering diagnostic tests and enforcing self-quarantine measures for 494 people based on the credit card transactions made at the aforementioned clubs and bars.
The South Korean government will mobilize the fast response team of the National Police Agency in the case that visitors’ identities are not quickly confirmed based on base station and credit card data. The team composed of 8,559 police officers across the country will examine CCTV footage and investigate as they did to track the members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in February this year.
“The virus spread can be contained if we identify 90% or more contacts in a short period of time,” said Kwon Jun-wook, the vice director of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters.
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