South Korea re-imposes some coronavirus restrictions after spike in new cases

Cheryl Sanders
May 29, 2020

By location, 20 cases were each reported in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, followed by 18 infections in Incheon, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The country's vice health minister Kim Kang-lip warned Wednesday that cases linked to the logistics center may rise.

SEOUL, South Korea ⁠- Museums, theaters, parks and other public facilities in the Seoul metropolitan area will close for two weeks starting Friday, health authorities said as they raced to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo pleaded for all residents in the greater capital area to avoid unnecessary gatherings and urged companies to keep sick employees off work.

However, authorities were alerted recently to a new local cluster of infections, this time in the distribution centre of a mail order company in the Seoul suburb of Bucheon.

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 has sought to ease social distancing rules.

In a precautionary move to stem community transmission, the education ministry said it plans to limit the number of students at schools in the capital area.

KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said the country may need to reimpose social distancing restrictions, saying it was becoming increasingly hard for health workers to track transmissions amid increasing public activity. "We are doing our best to prevent the further spread of infection through fast contact tracing and testing". At least 3,600 people at the facility are being tested.

In the capital Seoul, an accumulation of infections among clubgoers this month had already triggered fears of a new wave of mass infections.

South Korea was reporting around 500 new cases per day in early March before managing to stabilize its outbreak with aggressive tracking and testing.

The country also began requiring masks on public transit and airline flights this week.

South Korea reported 40 new cases on Wednesday, its biggest daily jump in almost 50 days, as officials scrambled to trace hundreds of infections linked to nightspots, restaurants and a massive e-commerce warehouse near Seoul.

Unlike many countries, South Korea did not impose a strict lockdown to counter Covid-19. Bangladesh on Wednesday had 38,292 coronavirus cases including 544 deaths.

- CHINA'S CONGRESS NEARS CONCLUSION: China on Thursday announced two new cases of coronavirus, both from overseas, as it moves to close the annual session of its ceremonial legislature that had been delayed by the outbreak. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from COVID-19 among 82,995 cases.

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