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S. Korea won't reinstate strict curbs despite new coronavirus outbreak

This article is more than 12 months old

SEOUL: South Korea health authorities said yesterday they had no immediate plans to reinstate strict social distancing rules despite a fresh coronavirus outbreak in the capital of Seoul.

Officials have scrambled to trace and test thousands of people over the past week after a cluster of new infections linked to nightclubs and bars in Seoul's Itaewon district raised fears of a second wave.

Officials have linked at least 119 cases of Covid-19 to the nightspots, which had just reopened as part of the country's move to ease lockdown measures to jump-start its struggling economy.

Vice-Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said bringing back the social distancing rules was unlikely as long as the daily number of new cases remained below 50 and officials were able to trace 95 per cent of all infections.

"For now, we will still monitor how the current transmissions go and review whether we should reconsider our distancing policy," Mr Kim said.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported 26 new cases as of midnight Tuesday, with 21 tied to the Seoul nightclub outbreak. That was slightly lower than the tally reported in the previous two days.

The outbreak prompted officials to re-shutter some nightclubs and bars as well as delay the planned reopening of schools by a week, but the government has stood by its decision to ease broader restrictions by reopening offices, public facilities and sports centres.

Seoul city officials did introduce a new policy requiring people to wear protective face masks during peak hours on the subway from yesterday.

The infections did not deter more than a hundred shoppers who waited in line to enter a Chanel store in Seoul yesterday to beat price hikes.

PRICE HIKES

Online speculation of Chanel price hikes prompted masked shoppers to arrive as early as 5am, forming a closely spaced queue that snaked around the Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul.

Many South Koreans gift luxury bags for weddings, including a man in the queue who said his wedding had been postponed.

A Chanel public relations representative said the company raised prices in its home market of France on Monday, and that prices would increase in all of its markets. - REUTERS

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