Seoul reports spike in COVID-19 cases after fresh outbreak

Seoul, May 10 (efe-epa).- South Korea on Sunday reported 34 new coronavirus cases detected a day earlier, making it the highest number to be reported in a single day since Apr. 9 after an outbreak in a Seoul neighborhood.

Eight out of the 34 infections were “imported” cases, while 26 were local transmissions, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday.

The majority of these 26 cases belong to an outbreak linked to nightclubs and bars in Seoul’s popular Itaewon district, which has caused at least 40 COVID-19 infections.

The number of cases recorded on Saturday is the highest since Apr. 9, when Seoul – which has not closed its borders or imposed a lockdown – reported 39 fresh infections.

South Korea, one of the countries that has been able to contain the spread of COVID-19 most efficiently, had not reported more than 30 cases since Apr. 12, and last week had been reporting less than 10 new infections daily for three consecutive days, none of them local transmissions.

On Tuesday, a 29-year-old male who had visited five nightclubs and bars in Itaewon on May 2, became the first person to test positive in this new outbreak.

Since then, at least 40 cases have been reported, including people who had been in the same nightclubs and bars, along with colleagues and family members.

The identification of this new outbreak comes the same week South Korea relaxed social distancing measures, which included gradual re-opening of schools and museums, given the falling number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

At least 1,510 people were in the five establishments linked to the outbreak around the same time.

The authorities have urged all those who visited those establishments to self-isolate at home and get tested. They have been able to trace more than 600 people so far.

However, finding them all is feared to be more complicated than usual as at least three of the five establishments are linked to the LGBTQ community, which suffers deep prejudice in the country.

After the report of the outbreak, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has asked all nightclubs to remain closed until further notice, while such establishments across the country need to follow strict sanitary protocols if they want to remain in operation. EFE-EPA


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