S. Korea braces for 'toughest' virus battle in winter, people urged to follow antivirus curbs
SEOUL. KAZINFORM The daily number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea stayed in the 400 range for the second day in a row Monday due apparently to less testing over the weekend, and health authorities warned that the country is bracing for the «biggest crisis» in the upcoming winter season.
The country added 438 more COVID-19 cases, including 414 local infections, raising the total caseload to 34,201, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). It reported three additional coronavirus fatality, bringing the total to 526, Yonhap reports.
Monday's figure is down from 581 on Thursday, 555 on Friday, 503 on Saturday and 450 on Sunday, the KDCA said. However, fewer tests are usually carried out on weekends compared with weekdays.
This photo shows a medical worker clad in protective gear at a negative-pressure ward for patients infected with the new coronavirus at the National Medical Center in Seoul on Nov. 30, 2020.
The KDCA warned of a bigger wave of the pandemic during winter, urging people to stay at home and avoid year-end gatherings.
«The reproduction rate for COVID-19 was analyzed to be 1.43 for last week,» KDCA chief Jeong Eun-kyeong told a press conference, meaning that one patient can infect 1.5 people.
Jeong forecast the country could report daily virus cases of between 700 and 1,000 in the next one or two weeks unless the current pace is curbed.
The daily infection tally has stayed in the triple digits since Nov. 8, with the figure hovering above 300 since Nov. 18 except for Monday. Concerns have mounted since last week over the third wave of infections, as daily new cases peaked to an eight-month high.
On Sunday, the country decided to keep the greater Seoul area under Level 2 social distancing measures in its five-tier system, but it raised antivirus curbs in all other areas to Level 1.5.
Instead, more stringent antivirus curbs will be implemented in closed environments and facilities that are susceptible to virus infections in the wider Seoul area starting midnight Tuesday for a week, and Level 1.5 social distancing will be put in place outside of the wider Seoul area for two weeks starting midnight Tuesday.
Under the tougher distancing measures, saunas and steam-bath rooms in bathhouses will be banned starting Tuesday for a week in the greater Seoul area. Nine kinds of indoor exercises practiced in groups, including Zumba dance, aerobics and kickboxing, will also be banned starting Tuesday for a week.
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