Phone records show mobility in South Korea fell 42% without confinement

Seoul, May 15 (efe-epa).- People’s mobility in South Korea dropped nearly 42 percent during the worst point of the epidemic in the country even without confinement measures, according to data released Friday by the nation’s main telephone company.

On Feb. 29, the ninth Saturday of the year and the day the number of new daily cases peaked in South Korea with 909 infections, people moved 41.9 percent less compared to the ninth Saturday of 2019, revealed the National Bureau of Statistics.

The Asian country has not imposed restrictions on the mobility of citizens, although it has recommended people to stay indoors as much as possible during the worst times of the pandemic.

The figures show that mobility reduced by only three to six percent year-on-year during the first two weeks of February, shortly after the first case of coronavirus on Jan. 20.

However, in the third week of February, when a large outbreak was detected in the southeastern city of Daegu, mobility fell by 29.5 percent and further dropped to 41.9 percent on Feb. 29, when the number of new cases peaked.

Data from SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile operator with 22 million users – 42 percent of the domestic market – indicated that as the number of cases fell, mobility recovered gradually and remained stable between the penultimate week of March and the penultimate week of April.

However, even in that period, the mobility of people was 22 to 28 percent less compared to the same period last year.

Mobility increased around the first weekend of May, as was also the case in 2019 – this is a period during which several holidays occur -, and reached 83 percent of the levels recorded last year.

However, following the detection of an outbreak on May 6 in Seoul that could result in a major surge in the number of cases, by May 9 mobility had already decreased by 25 percent year-on-year.

SK Telecom data also indicated that the influx of people to the city of Daegu, the epicenter of the largest outbreak so far in South Korea, fell 52.6 percent between Feb. 24 and Mar. 1, the worst phase of infections. EFE-EPA


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