Seoul, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- The incidence of coronavirus infections in South Korea has multiplied by a factor of 13 compared to two weeks ago, the director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday.
Based on data on local infections published daily and amid a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, South Korea has added 2,620 new local infections in the past 14 days, an incidence of 5.13 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
This is 13 times the cumulative incidence during the previous 14 days (between July 27 and Aug. 9), when it was just 0.38 local infections per 100,000 inhabitants, KCDC director Jung Eun-kyeong said at a press conference.
Jung added that the proportion of untraced cases (where the chain of infection has not been tracked) being recorded daily is currently more than 18 percent, compared to just 8 percent over the previous 14 days.
Eighty-four percent of new infections in the past two weeks have been recorded around the capital region, according to Jung.
Amid this rising trend, Seoul on Monday mandated the use of masks in all public places.
Starting Monday, the 9.7 million residents of the South Korean capital will only be able to remove their masks while eating or drinking in public.
The government has also imposed Level 2 – in the three-tier system – social distancing measures in Seoul as well as the rest of the country.
This entails the closure of public spaces and sports stadiums, and the reduction of students in classrooms to one-third of the capacity in kindergartens, elementary and middle schools, and two-thirds in high schools.
Churches and Buddhist temples in the capital area have also been asked to perform all their religious services “online” in the wake of an increase in infections linked to Protestant churches.
The Sarang Jeil Church, an ultra-conservative Presbyterian church in northern Seoul, has become the second largest virus cluster detected in South Korea since the beginning of the pandemic with 875 infections so far.
South Korea, which recorded 266 new cases on Monday, has been widely praised as one of the countries that has best controlled the pandemic so far thanks to its comprehensive contact tracing system.
It has recorded a total of 17,665 coronavirus cases and 309 deaths to date, for a fatality rate of 1.74 percent. EFE-EPA