South Korea cases rise, China weighs health changes

Cheryl Sanders
May 29, 2020

"We will have to return to social distancing if we fail".

The Korea Centers for Disease Control said it has linked at least 82 infections to workers there and was testing 4,000 more people who may have been exposed.

South Korea has never adopted the draconian lockdowns seen in China, but it did enforce a strict social distancing campaign that was enforced between March 22 and May 5.

Residents in the region are being asked to avoid outings as much as possible and work from home during the period.

The government began taking a new approach earlier this month to allow a return to normal life while preventing new infections.

The warehouse cluster appears linked to an outbreak that emerged in several Seoul nightclubs and bars in early May, the KCDC said, and comes as the country seeks to ease social distancing rules, reopen schools, and keep new virus infections in check.

In addition, USFK commander Gen. Robert Abrams renewed a public health emergency that gives him authority to enforce the rules for civilians as well as service members through August 20.

The center was closed Monday and is undergoing the strongest disinfection measures recommended by authorities. "We are also disinfecting goods ordered by customers before delivering them". The Education Ministry on Wednesday said class openings were delayed at 561 schools nationwide because of virus concerns.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, the KCDC director, said the country may need to step up its restrictions again as it had become increasingly hard for health workers to track transmissions amid increasing public activity.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a virus briefing it's becoming increasingly hard for health workers to track the spread of COVID-19, which has coincided with increased public activity amid warmer weather and eased attitudes on social distancing. It's unclear how many of those cases have been reported in the past 24 hours.

Jeong warned that increased activity was making it more hard for health workers to track transmissions.

"We will do our best to trace contacts and implement preventive measures, but there's a limit to such efforts", she said.

That means people affiliated with USFK in the area can't eat at off-base restaurants or attend other social activities in the local communities, although they can travel to unrestricted areas to do so.

Health authorities had recorded 79 new coronavirus infections nationwide the day before, the highest increase in nearly two months, lifting the total number of infections to 11,344.

South Korea, which reported its first case in 20 January, has won widespread praise for its response to the pandemic - a combination of vigorous testing and tracing rather than a European-style lockdown.

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