Seoul, Dec 21 (efe-epa).- The South Korean capital on Monday banned gatherings of more than four people in and around the region in the run-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays as the country fears a further spike in the number of daily cases.
The ban to slow the spread would begin in the capital region from Wednesday until Jan.3, said a statement by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
However, the restrictions have been eased for weddings or funerals where gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed.
The capital region is home to almost half of South Korea’s 51 million people.
It is currently under level 2.5 restrictions, which can be raised to 3, the highest of the five levels. The rest of the country is under level 2.
Under level-2.5, private meetings are allowed up to a maximum of 50 participants.
The new restrictions have dealt a setback for revelers planning year-end parties.
The authorities announced the curbs as the number of daily coronavirus cases recorded in the last 24 hours in the country was below 1,000 for the first time in six days, mainly due to fewer tests undertaken over the weekend.
On Monday, 926 new infections were reported across the country. The figure is 171 less than recorded on Sunday.
Some 649 of the 926 new cases are from the capital region.
The total number of coronavirus infections has reached 50,591 since the virus was first detected in South Korea in January past. The number of deaths from covid across the country has now risen to 698.
South Korea had succeeded in controlling the first impact of the pandemic and did not need to confine its population, unlike countries in Europe and the United States.
However, new figures have triggered more concerns.
The country reached the grim milestone of 40,000 infections on Dec.10. But it took only 11 days for the cases to cross the 50,000-mark. EFE-EPA