Itaewon virus outbreak deepens generational rift
Anger at young people swells after infections at clubs
Young people have become the target of criticism, especially from the older generation, amid sporadic group infections of COVID-19 linked to entertainment facilities such as nightclubs and bars.
The new wave of infections here began after a 29-year-old Korean patient tested positive for the coronavirus, May 6, after visiting five nightclubs and bars in Itaewon from the night of May 1 to the early hours of May 2.
Since then, the contagious disease has spread across the nation to more than 200 people, mostly in their 20s.
The new infections, which came after the spread of the coronavirus in Korea was showing clear signs of a slowdown, has provoked criticism of the young generation in online communities.
In particular, middle-aged people who are caring for young children or aging parents claimed that the young people showed an “easygoing attitude” amid the public health crisis.
It has been known worldwide that the elderly are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than young people, and their likelihood of death from the disease is higher.
Anger against young people continued to swell following an announcement by the city government of Anyang in Gyeonggi Province, Friday, that it is going all out to conduct coronavirus tests on over 1,000 citizens who reported to the health authorities that they had visited a bar near Anyang Station which was visited by COVID-19 patients multiple times. So far, at least seven infections have been connected to the bar, according to the city government.
“Many citizens here have tried to stay indoors as much as they can in a bid to join the government efforts to contain the spread of the virus, and the country was about to see the fruit of those efforts until infections linked to the Itaewon nightclubs emerged,” said Ahn Jin-hwan, 45, who lives in Gyeonggi Province. “I think the incident shows that young people lack consideration for others.”
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said, also Friday, it had detected 20 more cases of the new coronavirus the previous day, raising the nation’s total to 11,142. The death toll remained unchanged at 264.
Following the continuous spread of the virus tied to the entertainment facilities, the health authorities decided to add nightclubs, singing rooms (known as noraebang in Korean) and “hunting pubs,” among others, to a highrisk group that is required to follow extra-strict disease control guidelines.
“Hunting pubs” refers to places in which people can go on blind dates while drinking.
“There have been opinions that the government’s distancing-in-daily-life scheme did not consider the characteristics of facilities with a high risk of infections,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said during a briefing.
Meanwhile, the prosecution began its investigation, also Friday, in earnest into the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a minor religious sect which was at the heart of a surge in coronavirus cases here, carrying out search-and-seize operations at the church’s branches and facilities across the nation.
The investigation comes after a civic group filed a complaint with the prosecution in February against Shincheonji founder Lee Man-hee for allegedly hindering state efforts to contain COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic.