South Korea Sees Troubling Spike in New Coronavirus Cases

August 17, 2020 Topic: Health Blog Brand: Korea Watch Tags: CoronavirusCOVID-19HealthSouth Korea

South Korea Sees Troubling Spike in New Coronavirus Cases

There are now more than 15,000 cases and 300 related deaths from the virus, according to KCDC. The mortality rate is 1.99%.

 

South Korea reported 197 new coronavirus cases on Monday, putting the greater Seoul area in a heightened risk for further resurgence of the pandemic.

Eighty-nine of the new cases were pinpointed within the densely populated Seoul metropolitan region, and smaller clusters of infections were reported in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

 

Monday’s numbers come on the heels of the nation registering 279 new daily infections on Sunday, marking the first time since early March that new daily cases eclipsed 200.

South Korea has now hit triple digits for daily infections for four straight days.

There are now more than 15,000 cases and 300 related deaths from the virus, according to KCDC. The mortality rate is 1.99%.

South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told reporters that authorities will further tighten social-distancing rules until the rate of new infections stabilizes.

Kim pleaded for citizens to stay at home and avoid unnecessary gatherings out in public.

“New infections in the area could happen at anytime and anywhere,” he said, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Health authorities have voiced concerns as cases linked to churches, door-to-door retailers, traditional markets and schools continued to rise in the greater Seoul area, which is home to more than 20 million people.

“We are in a grave situation, as the greater Seoul area could face another wave of COVID-19 outbreaks,” KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said during a news briefing over the weekend. 

“We are standing at a (critical) juncture over whether the virus outbreak can be brought under control under the current health care system,” Jeong said.

Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Institute of Health, told residents of Seoul and neighboring areas to stay home and always wear masks.

“If the infections are worsened by the summer vacation season, as well as increased travel or major rallies during the three-day holiday period, we could slip into a situation that would be really hard to control,” he said during a press briefing.

South Korea has so far weathered the pandemic without major economic lockdowns, although schools were shut until May and some entertainment venues were closed in some major cities when infections surged.

Health authorities have largely tapped into aggressive testing and technological tools, which include using mobile-phone location data and credit-card records for contact tracing and tracking apps to monitor individuals who are quarantined at home.

Moreover, visitors at nightclubs, karaoke bars, wedding halls, baseball stadiums and other facilities considered “high risk” are required to register themselves with smartphone QR codes.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.