South Korea to ramp up virus curbs over fears of second wave

South Korea to ramp up virus curbs over fears of second wave

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South Korea has announced that it will increase coronavirus restrictions across the country starting Sunday to help control a growing outbreak.

The move came when South Korea – which had largely got its previous outbreak under control – reported 332 cases on Saturday, the highest daily number since early March.

Virus restrictions were tightened in the Seoul area last week, but with more than 300 cases reported two days in a row, authorities have extended them to the rest of the country.

"We are in a very precarious stage where we could see the beginning of a nationwide second wave," said Health and Social Affairs Minister Park Neung-hoo at a press conference.

Controlling the spread of the virus is a top priority, he added.

The expanded measures include restrictions on gatherings and activities including professional sports that are again played behind closed doors.

All beaches in the country are closed from midnight.

South Korea has reported a total of 17,002 coronavirus infections with 309 deaths.

Much of the new cases come from the greater Seoul area, where half of the country's 51 million people live.

South Korea experienced one of the worst early outbreaks outside of mainland China, but through extensive tracing and testing brought it largely under control without imposing the lockdowns ordered in much of Europe and other parts of the world.

The country has been viewed as a model for fighting the pandemic in public, largely following security measures like face masks.

A limited number of spectators were even allowed in for sports games in July – which was reversed for the greater Seoul area last week and will be reversed nationwide from Sunday.

South Korea reports 46 new virus cases as it battles "second wave".

© 2020 AFP

South Korea Aims to Contain Viruses to Curb Second Wave Fear (2020, Aug 22)
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