South Korea on Saturday saw its biggest single-day rise in coronavirus infections in four months, with 113 new cases reported. Health officials in the country have placed the blame for this on travelers from abroad, who made up three-fourths of the new cases and warned that it could be the beginning of an upward trend.

“Every day, we feel a sense of crisis that COVID-19 pandemic may have not yet peaked yet,” Kwon Jun-wook, deputy director for the Korean CDC, said at a briefing.

South Korea has not reported a daily increase in cases this high since March 31. In fact, daily cases have not even exceeded 100 since then. According to Johns Hopkins University, the country has seen over 14,000 confirmed cases and nearly 300 deaths. It claims that around 70% of its overall cases have been from Korean nationals, with 16% being from overseas travelers.

A significant chunk of Friday’s cases came from two military aircraft bringing 293 South Korean workers from Iraq after cases there began to spike. Kwon said at the briefing that 71 of these workers tested positive for COVID-19 and a further 11 were being examined further.

“It’s likely that there will be similar cases like this Iraq case anywhere in the world, and (South Korea) will repeat the same measure, so we urge people to factor that in when looking at figures of the confirmed cases,” the deputy director said.

A cargo ship from Russia docked in Busan has also contributed to the country’s case numbers.

South Korea's economy has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic
South Korea's economy has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic AFP / Jung Yeon-je