July 25 (UPI) -- South Korea on Saturday reported its largest daily increase of COVID-19 cases since April --113.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said 86 of the cases were imported and 27 were local, raising the total number of cases to since the pandemic started to 14,092. The country has also reported 298 deaths since the outbreak began, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The spike marked the first time since April 1 that South Korea reported more than 100 new cases in a day, Yonhap News Agency reported. The country reported its first COVID-19 case Jan. 20 and reached a peak of 909 daily cases Feb. 29.
South Korean workers arriving in the country from Iraq Friday were partially to blame for the spike, health officials said. Out of some 300 workers returning home from Iraq, 71 have tested positive for COVID-19.
Among the 27 new local COVID-19 cases, most of the new infections were from Seoul and the Gyeonggi province surrounding capital city. Most of the imported cases were from Iraq and Russia with 36 imported cases from Iraq and 34 from Russia. The Philippines also made up five of the imported cases and three came from the United States, according to the Korean CDC.
The daily infection rate fell below 30 for the first time in over a few weeks Monday, and increased throughout the week with cases linked to a nursing home, churches and a military base. One church in southern Seoul recorded 10 new infections after failing to follow guidelines that banned gatherings other than regular worship services to maintain social distancing. On Friday, South Korea lifted the ban on church gatherings other than regular worship.
With fewer new local cases than imported, the country has implemented a quarantine for arrivals to stem imported cases, but is easing social distancing.
South Korea has placed six countries, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, the Philippines and Uzbekistan, on a high-risk list with foreign arrivals from those countries required to submit a certificate showing that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
South Korea is also considering adding Russia to the list after 78 cases of COVID-19 have been detected from eight Russian ships docked there since June, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Regardless of health certificates, health authorities place all arrivals to the country, including South Korea Nationals, in a two-week quarantine.
Since Jan. 3, South Korea has carried out more than 1.5 million COVID-19 tests and 12,866 people have recovered from the virus.
South Korea will gradually allow fans to attend sporting events starting with baseball games on Saturday. The country also reopened museums and libraries in the greater Seoul area on Monday.
In other countries, local cases are still surging, including India, which has recorded more than 1.3 million cases and more than 31,000 deaths from the virus, according to the Johns Hopkins University global tracker.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, 61, of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, has tested positive for COVID-19.
"My dear countrymen, I was having COVID-19 symptoms and, after a test, my report came back positive," he wrote in a series of tweets Saturday. "I am following all the guidelines and will quarantine myself based on doctor's advice."
India has the third-highest number of cases worldwide.
The United States has the most cases and the most deaths from the virus at more than 4 million cases and more than 145,500 deaths followed by Brazil, which has more than 2 million cases and more than 85,000 deaths.
In the Australian state of Victoria, more than 300 hospital workers have become infected with COVID-19, Premier Daniel Andrews said Saturday. The state has nearly 4,000 active cases, including 313 health workers and 536 in aged care settings.
Andrews said that this has posed challenges in hospital staffing and keeping aged care residents safe.
He added that a mask mandate is Stage 4 of restrictions, and "if they are worn by everybody then we may not need to go further."
The city of Melbourne and neighboring Mitchell Shire are under Stage 3 restrictions, which mean residents can only leave their homes to buy food, go to work, exercise, or give and receive care.
Since the pandemic began, 7,744 COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Victoria and 3,000 have recovered.
Australia has recorded 13,950 cases and 145 deaths since the pandemic began, global data shows.
Worldwide, COVID-19 has sickened more than 15.7 million people and killed over 640,000 people.