The new Covid-19 cases in Seoul recorded double-digit growth for 12 consecutive days on Friday, forcing the government to extend toughened social distancing indefinitely in the capital city and the surrounding area.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new Covid-19 cases in Seoul totaled 217 in June alone. The number may increase further, as further confirmation on Friday is a high possibility, according to the public health authorities.
Before the most recent outbreak, the longest double-digit streak of infection was for four days, with the outbreak at a call center in southwestern Seoul recording 96 cases from March 8-11 and the Itaewon club infection recording 61 cases in four days from May 8-12. The daily average number also stood at 20.6 as of 6 p.m. Thursday.
The situation has been exacerbating in the capital city and its vicinity as various cluster infections occurred. This month, cluster infections have sprung out from community gatherings, including small churches, door-to-door marketing firms selling health supplements, a table tennis club, training institutes, military bases, and call centers.
The recent cluster infections have pushed the cumulative total of new virus cases in Seoul to 1,073 on Friday, and that of Gyeonggi Province also exceeded 1,000 cases.
Korea added 56 new cases, including 43 local infections, raising the total to 12,003 as of midnight Friday, according to the KCDC. All but one local infection cases came from the Seoul metro region.
Fifteen more people recovered, raising the number of cured patients to 10,669, with 1,057 receiving treatment. The nation also recorded one more fatality due to the virus, raising the death toll to 277. Korea has tested about 1.08 million suspected patients since Jan. 3.
With the cluster infections continuing to rise, the government has opted to extend its enhanced social distancing scheme in the greater Seoul area indefinitely.
“Tougher prevention measures will be enforced in Seoul and the adjacent cities in Gyeonggi Province, as well as Incheon until the number of new cases in the area drops to the single digits,” Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo said in the daily task force meeting on Friday. “If the situation does not calm down soon, the government has no other choices but to go back to extensive and stringent social distancing.”
The restrictive measures include the closure of public facilities, including museums and parks, while advising firms to employ a more flexible work system and strictly follow social distancing guidelines. Entertainment establishments, such as bars and clubs, and learning institutes were also urged to suspend their operations.
Minister Park added that all learning institutes and internet cafes in the greater Seoul area have to strictly abide by the mandatory implementation of electronic entry and exit systems based on quick response (QR) code for visitors.
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