South Korea’s health authorities yesterday called for citizens to stagger vacation schedules ahead of the holiday season and avoid gatherings at workplaces and religious facilities, as COVID-19 infections from small clusters persist.
After battling the first major COVID-19 epidemic outside China, South Korea reduced the rates of daily infections to single digits by late April, propelled by an intensive tracking and testing campaign.
However, just as social distancing rules were eased last month, a series of small outbreaks erupted from nightclubs, retailer warehouses, churches and door-to-door sales businesses, prompting the government to declare the beginning of a “second wave” of infections last week.
As of midnight on Sunday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 42 new cases, for a total of 12,757 cases with 282 deaths. On June 20, the daily tally reached 67, its highest in more than three weeks.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed concern about the persistent infections ahead of the summer holiday season, calling for strict steps to prevent the virus.
“I hope it will give a breathing room for the domestic tourism industry and chances to rest and recharge for the people,” Moon told a meeting with senior aides.
“We need everyone’s cooperation in ensuring watertight virus prevention measures in tourist sites and spreading a safe travel and play culture,” he said, urging people to stagger breaks and avoid crowded attractions.
In related news, Thailand said it would allow bars to re-open from tomorrow and plans to let in some foreign travelers after recording five weeks without any community transmission of the virus.
Pubs and karaoke venues would be able to operate until midnight as long as they follow safety rules.
“Alcohol consumption could reduce discipline, so there will be close monitoring before customers enter venues,” Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the Thai government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, told a briefing yesterday.
Foreigners with work permits, residency and families in Thailand would also be able to enter the country, but would be subject to a 14-day quarantine, Taweesin said.
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