June 19, 2024

New Malaysia Times

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South Korea braces for second wave, tougher measures in greater Seoul

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SEOUL, Aug 18 — The number of daily new virus cases in South Korea bounced back sharply Tuesday as infections linked to churches in the capital city showed no signs of a slowdown, prompting the country to consider tougher virus-preventive measures in the greater Seoul area currently dogged by a series of cluster infections.

The country added 246 more COVID-19 cases, including 235 local infections, raising the country’s total caseload to 15,761, reports Yonhap news agency according to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

It marked a three-digit number for the fifth straight day, following 166 more infections on Saturday and 103 Friday.

south korea

On Sunday, South Korea reported a whopping 279 new daily infections, marking the first time since early March that the figure surpassed 200. The figure fell back to 197 on Monday.

The country added nearly 1,000 cases over the past five days.

South Korea, which never imposed a draconian lockdown, has been seeking to curb the spread of the virus while maintaining most business and daily activities.

Due to the spike in the new virus cases, however, health authorities decided to raise the level of social distancing in Seoul and the neighboring areas by one notch to Level 2 in the three-tier system for two weeks from Sunday.

The scheme will still allow South Koreans to maintain most of their daily routines, but gatherings of more than 100 people will be banned. Sports events will be banned from having spectators.

Health authorities said they may further adopt tougher social distancing rules unless the pace of new infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, which houses around half of the nation’s population, reaches a manageable level this week.

“The current situation is so grave that we have to consider adopting tougher (infection preventive) measures.” Health Minister Park Neung Hoo said in a pan-government meeting on infection prevention.

“Anyone in the capital city and neighbouring areas can be infected, and it is worrisome that the virus outbreak may spread across the country.”

BERNAMA