Time to tighten social distancingRash complacency can invite a bigger danger. With an easing in the surge of new infection cases, there are signs that things are starting to return to normal. Six nightclubs in southern Seoul opened up for business over the weekend, and their entrances were crowded with lines of young clubbers eager to get in. Nine large churches in Seoul defied government warnings not to hold Sunday mass.
But, the virus pandemic has only begun across the world. New infections in the United States are increasing by 6,000 each day. The number of deaths in Italy have exceeded those in China. France and Germany have gone into a war-like emergency state. India and Pakistan, both with high population densities and poor health care systems, could become the new virus epicenters.
The situation in Korea has not changed much outside of the Shincheonji church cluster. Excluding members of the church, 69 confirmed cases were added on Monday last week, 79 on Tuesday, 93 on Wednesday and 140 on Thursday. Most of the cases caught the virus from small groups or overseas.
The prime minister office issued a statement advising people to stay at home over the next week weeks. Despite the order for “social distancing,” however, roads were packed and some neighborhoods were filled with young people. Students who have returned home from studying overseas are crowding the clubs in Seoul.
The government has been too hasty in congratulating itself over containment, mitigating the effect on its stay-at-home order. Korea has become an exemplary case through a show of mature citizenship and medical expertise. But the Moon Jae-in administration has spoiled it by over-hyping it for political gain.
The government must stop trying to get credit for civilian endeavors to fight the virus. They also must continue cooperating with government pleas to avoid crowds.
Everyone has the right to enjoy their life and seek religious comfort. But we are living with a virus that can jeopardize our lives. We must remember that our individual efforts can help bring about faster stability to our lives and community.