South Korea Tightened Curbs in Seoul as COVID-19 Instances Hit 9 Month Excessive: Media

© Reuters. People wearing face masks walk in a traditional market amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Seoul

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea will impose tougher social distancing rules for the capital Seoul and surrounding areas on Sunday, according to local media, as health officials struggle to contain the biggest wave of coronavirus infections in nine months.

The decision came after the government took unprecedented action on Saturday in a country that had started to win through aggressive contact tracing and other moves.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 631 new cases at midnight Saturday – the largest daily number since a peak in February and early March – bringing the country’s total to 37,546 with 545 deaths.

The new wave of infections has increased the number of active cases in South Korea to a record 7,873, according to KDCA, raising concerns about the dwindling number of hospital beds.

Many of the most recent cases have involved Seoul, where unprecedented curfews were imposed on Saturday, most facilities and businesses closed at 9:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) for two weeks, and public transportation was cut by 30% in the evening.

Gatherings of 50 or more people will be banned following Sunday’s measures, and more stringent attendance restrictions will be placed on religious gatherings and school classes, while businesses like gyms and karaoke bars will be subject to new restrictions, Yonhap said.

The raised curbs will last at least three weeks until the end of the month, News1 reported.

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