Why South Korea’s COVID-19 cases flared up in Seoul in just 24 hours

HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/SOUTHKOREA
People wearing masks to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) arrive at Gimpo international airport in Seoul, South Korea, May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

South Korea recorded at least 34 additional COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours.

The latest transmission emerged around nightclubs in Seoul as the pandemic threatens the country’s hard-won gains in its fight against the virus. Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said locally transmitted infections affected 26 people. The other eight involved guests from overseas. South Korea’s daily, for the first time, jumped above 30 in a month.

After battling the first epidemic outside China, South Korea had posted zero or only a few home cases over the last 10 days, with the daily tally soaring at about 10 or less in recent weeks.

Figures issued Sunday by the KCDC increased nationwide COVID-19 totals to more than 10,800 with at least 256 deaths. The agency said 9,610 have recovered, and 10,128 others were still under investigation.

Here’s what happened

The resurgence in recent days accompanied a small but developing coronavirus outbreak centered around several Seoul nightclubs. A man in his late 20s visited the nightclubs before testing positive for COVID-19.

The person also infected at least 15 people as of Friday. At least 14 cases out of 26 were reported from Seoul on Sunday. However, the KCDC did not specify how many were connected.

The outbreak came just as South Korea relaxed its social distancing regulations. The country has also sought reopening schools and businesses in the transition from extensive social distancing measures.

Never let your guard down, SoKor President says

In a televised speech, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said citizens need not to neither panic nor let their guard down over the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Moon Said:

“There’s no reason to stand still out of fear. South Korea has the right quarantine and medical systems blended with enjoy to respond [speedily] to any unexpected contamination clusters that would occur.”

However, Moon warned of a second wave of the epidemic later this year. He said the recent cluster underscored the current risks. He said the virus, which reasons COVID-19, can spread widely once more at any time.

The KCDC, according to Moon, would be renamed as the Disease Control and Prevention Administration as part of long-term warfare on COVID-19. Local governments will set up their very own epidemic response device with more experts.

Moon said the war will not be over. “While keeping enhanced alertness till the end, we must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention,” he said.

Extensive contact tracing, widespread testing, and tracking apps have helped South Korea mostly contain the epidemic without large lockdowns seen elsewhere. The COVID-19 cases raised worries about a brand new surge in South Korea. Since early March, the country recorded a consistently declining number of new cases.

President Moon assured the public the South Korean government will push to establish hospitals specialized in treating infections. He added the country will set up research center for national infectious diseases. He said the tasks are very urgent if government will prepare for the second COVID-19 epidemic wave this coming fall or winter.

Image courtesy of  Kim HongJi/REUTERS

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