Don’t repeat the nightmare

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Don’t repeat the nightmare

Fears of a second wave of the coronavirus have come true as new cases nearly tripled around the capital region during the summer break, adding jitters and woes to a society already fighting the longest-ever rainy season and the worst flooding in a decade. Korea must refresh social alertness in distancing and quarantine measures.

Authorities counted 279 new cases on Sunday, the biggest daily gain since 367 cases on March 8. In just three days, new infections ballooned to a collective 548, pushing up the cumulative Covid-19 tally to 15,318 as of Sunday.

Sarang Jeil Church in Seongbuk District, northern Seoul, led by the ultra-right Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, who was recently released on bail after his arrest for violating election laws, has become the hotbed for new cases. Regardless of political controversy, church authorities should have taken extra care of the health and safety of their followers.

Infected churchgoers have now circulated in markets, schools and office buildings. The latest GH-type virus proved to be more infective. More than 13 percent of the patients cannot locate exactly where they were infected, creating setbacks for quarantine and contact tracing measures.

The new wave of transmissions is reminiscent of the Shincheonji Church in Daegu, which brought the city and nearby areas to a standstill after an explosive outbreak in late February that spilled over to the capital region.

Authorities are partly responsible for the new Covid-19 spread that has stagnated in recent months. The government made Aug. 17 a national holiday and handed out food discount coupons to stimulate consumption in an economic battle against the virus. The public went on enjoying the summer break as if the virus spread no longer imposed a realistic threat.

The government has raised its social distancing measures to the second highest level from Sunday. For now, they must ensure hospital beds are sufficient throughout the capital.

Each citizen should take better care of themselves. They must thoroughly practice good hygiene habits and social distancing to protect themselves, their families and their communities. The entire country must raise its guard against the virus.
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