S. Korea won’t shift to forcible social restrictions as long as new cases remain under 50

2020.05.13 15:24:56

[Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]이미지 확대

[Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]

South Korea won’t return to society-wide restrictions as long as new infection cases are kept under 50 despite the spike in the spread after night-outs in Itaewon and other entertainment districts in Seoul during the long holiday week early May.

In a regular briefing in Sejong government complex on Wednesday, Kim Gang-lip, vice health minister, said that the government at this stage will give more time and monitor how things go to review whether or not to maintain everyday life quarantine scheme.

“We believe that [deciding to impose stricter measures] is a matter that should be reviewed after observing the nature of the spread,” Kim said.

The vice minister noted that daily new infection cases of coronavirus is being maintained at under, although the government is keeping an eye on the fact that the first of the latest cases related to Itaewon clubs and bars occurred outside quarantine-controlled network.

Korea eased social restrictions and shifted to “everyday life quarantine” earlier this month after the number of daily new cases of COVID-19 fell to single digit, with the number of domestic infections sometimes nearing zero.

Daily cases, however, spiked in recent days after a young man who visited five gay bars and clubs in Itaewon on May 1 tested positive for COVID-19 later, prompting secondary infections. The man had not traveled outside the country nor been in contact with an infected person.

The government’s guideline for it to maintain everyday life quarantine states the number of new daily cases to be fewer than 50 and the ratio of infection cases whose infection route is unknown should be under five percent.

The government is keeping close eye on the fact that the latest coronavirus infection cases linked to Itaewon occurred outside controlled quarantine.

“It is for sure that secondary infections are happening,” Kim said, noting 8 people including students and parents that were infected of COVID-19 after coming in contact with a hagwon or private institute teacher in Incheon, Gyeonggi Province, who visited one of the five Itaewon clubs and bars.

“We will have to conduct further internal study and analysis to judge whether secondary infection cases are part of community spread,” the official said.

On Wednesday, the number of daily new cases reached 26, of which 22 were domestic infections, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said, raising the country’s total number of COVID-19 infection cases to 10,962.

The number of new cases reached 12 on May 8 and 18 on May 9 before spiking to 34 on May 10 and 35 on May 11. The 29-year-old man in the center of the fresh outbreak in Seoul was tested positive for COVID-19 on May 6 after visiting Itaewon clubs and bars on May 1.

According to KCDC, the number of deaths from the virus reached 259 on Wednesday after adding one more fatality.

By Pulse

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