South Korea says tightest Covid restrictions may be ‘inevitable’

South Korea had been praised and emulated for its earlier success in slowing the virus’s spread without a lockdown, relying instead on rapid testing and contact-tracing to reduce flareups.
The country in November modified its social-distancing system with a five-tier system that intensifies restrictions according to the severity of the outbreak.(HT file photo)
The country in November modified its social-distancing system with a five-tier system that intensifies restrictions according to the severity of the outbreak.(HT file photo)
Updated on Dec 12, 2020 02:56 PM IST
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ByBloomberg | Posted by Deepali Sharma

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-Kyun said it’s inevitable that social-distancing measures will be tightened to the strictest level unless the country’s outbreak can be contained.

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A record 950 cases were reported Saturday, of which 928 were local infections, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. That’s despite restrictions at the second-highest level of 2.5 out of a scale of 3 in the greater Seoul area since Tuesday.

If the spread continues, the government will have no choice but raise measures to Level 3, Chung said in a meeting on Saturday, urging that efforts be made to curb the spread to reduce the impact that tighter limits would have on the economy and society. On his Facebook account, President Moon Jae-in referred to the Covid-19 situation as an “emergency” and ordered the mobilization of all resources to contain the virus.

South Korea had been praised and emulated for its earlier success in slowing the virus’s spread without a lockdown, relying instead on rapid testing and contact-tracing to reduce flareups.

Under South Korea’s Level 3 restrictions, gatherings of 10 people or more are prohibited, including all sporting events, while schools can only offer online classes. The public is advised to stay at home as much as possible, and companies are required to have non-essential employees work from home. There are no travel restrictions, although foreign visitors are required to be quarantined for 14 days unless they are exempt under cross-border agreements.

The country in November modified its social-distancing system with a five-tier system that intensifies restrictions according to the severity of the outbreak. Level 3 is adopted when an “extreme” spike in locally-transmitted infections sparks a large-scale, nationwide outbreak, or when daily cases reach 800 or more, according to Korea Disease Control & Prevention Agency.

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Sunday, November 28, 2021