S Kouth tight­ens re­stric­tions to tackle virus surge

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - SEOUL -AP

South Korea or­dered night­clubs, mu­se­ums and buf­fet res­tau­rants closed and banned large gath­er­ings in and around the cap­i­tal as a burst of new coro­n­avirus cases sparked fears of a ma­jor se­cond wave.

The coun­try's "trace, test and treat" ap­proach to curb­ing the virus has been held up as a global model, but it is now bat­tling sev­eral clus­ters mostly linked to Protes­tant churches.

Au­thor­i­ties re­ported 246 new in­fec­tions, tak­ing South Korea's to­tal to 15,761, the fifth con­sec­u­tive day of triple- digit in­creases after sev­eral weeks with num­bers gen­er­ally in the 30s and 40s.

Prime Min­is­ter Chung

Sye-kyun said 12 high-risk busi­ness cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing night­clubs, karaoke bars and buf­fet res­tau­rants will cease op­er­a­tions from Wed­nes­day in Seoul, In­cheon and the neigh­bour­ing Gyeonggi prov­ince.

All public in­sti­tu­tions in the ar­eas, such as mu­se­ums, will also close, he added, while in­door gath­er­ings of more than 50 peo­ple, and out­door ones of more than 100, will also be pro­hib­ited. Be­tween them, the three ar­eas ac­count for half of South Korea's pop­u­la­tion.

If the mea­sures fail to con­tain the virus, it will bring a "great im­pact on our econ­omy and peo­ple's liveli­hood", Chung said.

All church gath­er­ings had al­ready been banned in Seoul and Gyeonggi since

Satur­day, while sports events went be­hind closed doors again and res­i­dents were urged to avoid un­nec­es­sary travel.

The largest cur­rent clus­ter is cen­tred on the Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul, headed by a con­tro­ver­sial con­ser­va­tive pas­tor who has tested pos­i­tive him­self.

A to­tal of 457 cases are linked to that church, but health au­thor­i­ties said the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion was a "much big­ger cri­sis" than South Korea's ini­tial out­break, when more than 5,000 peo­ple con­nected to a re­li­gious sect were in­fected.

That clus­ter was cen­tred on the south­ern city of Daegu, but re­ports say that Sarang Jeil's mem­bers live all over the coun­try.

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