Seoul, Jun 12 (efe-epa).- South Korean authorities announced Friday that they will maintain, until further notice, strict social distancing measures in the region around Seoul amid a persistent number of outbreaks detected in the area that are causing dozens of new cases daily.
The announcement was made by Health Minister Park Neung-hoo, who warned that the social distancing measures would be toughened if the number of new daily COVID-19 cases did not decline.
South Korea recorded 56 new positive cases on Friday, of which 43 are local infections, all of which, with the exception of one, were detected in the region around the capital, where half of the country lives – about 26 million – and where 97 percent of new infections due to sporadic outbreaks have been concentrated in recent months.
Park urged the inhabitants of this region, comprising of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, to stay home as far as possible, and said that movement within the region had not declined since the authorities once again toughened social distancing measures due to the new infections.
Amid a stabilization of new infections, South Korea introduced new relaxed social distancing measures on May 6, which it had to re-tighten two weeks ago in the Seoul metropolitan area due to outbreaks that have been detected in bars, warehouses, churches, businesses and sports clubs.
Those measures, which had originally been implemented until June 14, will remain in force until the number of infections drop back to a single digit, Park said.
In the last week, the Asian country has launched a new quick response (QR) code system for bars and nightclubs, internet cafes and private academies to better trace possible infections.
South Korea, which has averaged 46 new cases a day in the last two weeks, has a total of 12,003 coronavirus infections, of which 1,057 (8.8 percent) are active cases since 88.8 percent have already recovered from the disease.
The virus has caused 277 deaths in the country making for a fatality rate of 2.31 percent.
The country has conducted more than one million PCR tests since January, which roughly translates into 1 in 50 South Koreans having already been tested for the virus. EFE-EPA