South Korea’s cases remain high as restrictions loom
SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF —
South Korea has reported another new 1,132 coronavirus cases as the resurgence worsened over Christmas week, putting pressure on the government to enforce stricter social distancing controls.
The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the country’s caseload to 55,902. South Korea added 1,241 cases on Christmas Day, its largest daily increase. Another 220 people had died in the past 15 days, raising the death toll to 793.
Around 780 of the new cases were from the greater capital area, home to 26 million people, where health workers discovered a large cluster in a huge Seoul prison with more than 500 inmates and workers. Transmissions in recent weeks have also been tied to hospitals, nursing homes, churches, restaurants and army units.
After months of complacency, government officials restored some distancing restrictions in recent weeks after easing them to the lowest tier in October and are now clamping down on private gatherings, shutting down ski resorts, restricting hotel occupancy and setting fines for restaurants if they accept large groups.
The government will hold a meeting on Sunday to determine whether to elevate distancing controls to the highest “Tier-3,” which could possibly shutter hundreds of thousands of non-essential businesses. Officials have resisted such action for weeks, saying it could unleash further shock on an already weak economy.