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South Korea reported 1,030 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, a record high for a second straight day as the country battles to fight a third wave of infections.
The country had previously been cited as a model for fighting the pandemic, with the public largely following social distancing and other rules.
But a revival focused on the capital and surrounding areas has led President Moon Jae-in to apologize on Facebook for his administration's failure to contain the recent wave.
On Saturday, he called the situation "very serious" after authorities reported 950 new infections, the largest daily increase since the pandemic began.
Saturday's record was broken on Sunday with 1,002 new locally transmitted cases, of which 786 were exposed in the greater Seoul area – home to half of the country's 52 million residents.
The weekend numbers followed several days on which the authorities reported numbers between 500 and 600.
South Korea's surge came despite the government tightening social distancing rules in the capital region earlier this week.
Stricter restrictions include a ban on gathering more than 50 people and spectators at sporting events. Cafes can only be served take away, while restaurants must close until 9:00 p.m. Only deliveries thereafter are permitted.
However, authorities said Saturday they may need to further tighten curbs at the highest level by closing schools, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and only leaving essential staff in offices.
South Korea experienced one of the worst early COVID-19 outbreaks outside of mainland China but got it largely under control with its "trace, test and treat" approach.
It has never imposed the kind of lockdowns that have been placed in much of Europe and other parts of the world.
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© 2020 AFP
South Korea Hits New Daily Record for COVID Cases (2020, December 13)
accessed on December 13, 2020
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