Tougher social distancing in capital area to remain in place indefinitely
Minister of Health and Safety Park Neung-hoo said during a briefing on Friday that strengthened infection prevention measures will be enforced in Seoul and the adjacent cities in Gyeonggi, as well as Incheon, until the daily number of new cases in the capital area drops to single digits.
Park expressed concern that the authorities are not able to trace the sources of infections quickly enough, urging the public to respect the toughened social distancing guidelines. By the time the first patient of a cluster infection is revealed, the virus can have already spread to many people, he said.
After months of tougher quarantine and disinfection measures, the country eased social distancing on May 6, allowing schools to start classes gradually in mid-May.
On May 29, the authorities tightened social distancing measures again in the capital region, where half of the country’s 50 million population reside, as new cluster infections from nightclubs, a distribution center and religious gatherings were reported. The two-week measure was supposed to end on Sunday, but Park said it will remain enforced indefinitely.
Public facilities including museums and parks remain closed, while companies are advised to operate flexible work systems and strictly follow social distancing guidelines. Entertainment establishments such as bars and clubs and cram schools are recommended to suspend their businesses.
Additional control measures will be enforced in the capital region, the government said. Electronic entry logs using QR codes will become mandatory for cram schools and PC cafes.
Two more medical centers to treat patients with less severe symptoms will open in Ansan and Gwangju, both in Gyeonggi.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, 56 new cases, including 43 local infections, were reported on Thursday. Of the local cases, 42 were in Seoul and Gyeonggi.
Korea’s total case load now stands at 12,003. The total number of cases in Seoul was 1,073 and Gyeonggi was 1,011.
The latest surge of infections is linked to the Richway health care company, a door-to-door sales business, and table tennis centers in Seoul's Yangcheon District.
Elderly people using welfare programs at community day care centers are also increasingly exposed to infections.
According to Dobong District Office in Seoul, 13 new infections were reported at the Seongsim Daycare Center in the district, bringing the total number of cases linked to the center to 14.
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]