A pedestrian walks by means of an empty avenue within the South Korean district of Itaewon in Seoul on Friday, August 21, 2020.
Jean Chung | Bloomberg | Getty Pictures
South Korea bans giant gatherings, closes nightspots and church buildings, and removes followers from skilled sports activities in unprecedented restrictions introduced on Saturday to sort out the unfold of the coronavirus.
Well being Minister Park Neung-hoo introduced the transfer shortly after the Korean Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention reported 332 new circumstances with triple-digit will increase for the ninth straight day. The nationwide case quantity is now 17,002, together with 309 deaths.
Whereas many of the new circumstances have come from the densely populated metropolitan space of Seoul, which has been on the middle of the virus surge in current weeks, infections have additionally been reported in just about each main metropolis, elevating issues that transmissions are spiraling uncontrolled.
The federal government already imposed elevated social distancing measures in Seoul this week after months of preventing for financial causes.
“We are actually in a really harmful scenario that might set off an enormous nationwide unfold of COVID-19,” mentioned Park.
Church buildings have been a significant supply of latest circumstances within the Seoul space earlier than authorities closed them this week. Nightclubs, karaoke bars, buffet eating places and laptop recreation cafes within the capital area are additionally closed, and viewers are allowed to ban baseball and soccer video games just some weeks after the groups have been allowed to promote components of their seats.
The identical measures will apply nationwide as of Sunday, although Park mentioned native governments are allowed to train some extent of flexibility, equivalent to: B. Shutting down shops as an alternative of imposing them when infections are low.
KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong has advocated even stricter restrictions. If there isn’t any proof that the unfold of the virus is slowing after the weekend, the nation ought to think about growing social distancing measures to “Stage 3”. These embody banning gatherings of greater than 10 individuals, closing faculties, discontinuing skilled sports activities, and advising non-public corporations to let staff do business from home.
Yoon Taeho, a senior well being ministry official, mentioned the federal government will study the impression of the restrictions earlier than deciding whether or not to strengthen them additional.
As of Friday afternoon, greater than 700 infections had been linked to a church in Seoul cited by a loud critic of the nation’s president. Sarang Jeil Church pastor Jun Kwang-hun was hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday after collaborating in an anti-government protest final week throughout which he shared a microphone on stage with different activists.
Police raided the church late Friday whereas attempting to acquire a extra full checklist of its out-of-contact members. Well being staff have recognized round 15,000 individuals utilizing cellular phone location knowledge