Fears growing over new wave of COVID-19 amid soaring infections

15-Aug-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

COVID-19 has spread rapidly in Seoul and neighbouring areas in recent days due to sporadic outbreaks at churches, large-scale marketplaces and fast food branches, renewing concerns over a new wave of the contagion, according to health authorities Friday.

New daily cases in the country exceeded 100 the previous day for the first time in about 20 days, with the number of locally transmitted infections jumping to an over-four-month high.

Amid the worsening situation, authorities are considering raising the level of social distancing to prevent further transmission of the contagious disease.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the country added 103 cases including 85 locally transmitted ones, Thursday, taking the total caseload to 14,873.

The number of newly identified infections increased rapidly from 56 detected Wednesday and 54 Tuesday, while the number of locally transmitted infections was the highest since 88 on March 31.

Among the 85 new local cases, 72 patients live in the Seoul metropolitan area ? 31 in Seoul, 38 in Gyeonggi Province and three in Incheon.

KCDC director Jung Eun-kyeong said in a media briefing that an infection broke out at Dongdaemun Market, one of Seoul’s most popular tourist attractions, noting that two merchants there had been confirmed to have COVID-19 Wednesday, with the infection spread to two more people as of noon Friday. This has forced about 600 stores there to shut down.

The virus outbreak at the large-scale marketplace came almost a week after COVID-19 hit Namdaemun Market.

Churches have continued to be a hotbed.

The KCDC said a church in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, added 60 more infections, raising its related caseload to 72 as of noon Friday, while 19 patients have been traced to a church in Seoul’s Seongbuk-gu.

At Lotteria, the fast-food chain of retail giant Lotte, four more patients were confirmed, raising its related caseload to 15.

“We again ask churches to comply with COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing face masks and not offering group meals, because infections at churches have spread to schools and marketplaces,” Jung said, noting that authorities were regarding the latest infection clusters in the Seoul metropolitan area as a signal of great danger.

“We also ask citizens to refrain from face-to-face meetings,” Jung added.

Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung issued a “no assembly” administrative order for religious facilities in the province for two weeks, virtually banning services.

Health and Welfare vice minister Kim Gang-lip said at a separate briefing that the government was considering applying Level 2 social distancing measures to Seoul and Gyeonggi Province.

The nation adopted a three-tier social distancing scheme in June, and is now at Level 1.



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