Seoul orders all clubs, bars to close over fears of second wave
SEOUL: South Korea's capital has ordered the closure of all clubs and bars after a burst of new cases sparked fears of a second coronavirus wave, and President Moon Jae-in urged the public to remain vigilant.
The nation has been held up as a global model in how to curb the virus, but the order from the Seoul mayor on Saturday followed a new infection cluster in Itaewon, one of the city's busiest nightlife districts.
More than 50 cases so far have been linked to a 29-year-old man who tested positive after spending time at five clubs and bars in Itaewon last weekend.
"Carelessness can lead to an explosion in infections," said Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, adding the order will remain in effect indefinitely.
Gyeonggi province - which surrounds Seoul with a population of around 12 million people - also ordered more than 5,700 entertainment facilities to suspend operations for two weeks starting yesterday.
With around 7,200 people estimated to have visited the five establishments, health authorities have warned of a further spike in infections and have asked those who went to any of the venues to get tested.
Of the 34 new infections reported yesterday, the highest since April 9, 24 were tied to the Itaewon cluster, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
"We cannot but feel sorry to see the emergence of the new infection cluster surrounding the Itaewon clubs," KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said.
The spike in new infections came as life in South Korea was slowly returning to normal, with the government relaxing social distancing rules.
Mr Moon said yesterday the new cluster had "raised awareness that even during the stabilisation phase, similar situations can arise again anytime".
"It's not over until it's over," he said in a speech marking the third anniversary of his taking office.
China yesterday reported the first case in over a month in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak first started in December last year.
China's National Health Commission also reported the first double-digit increase in countrywide cases in nearly 10 days, saying 14 new infections had been confirmed. - AFP