Seoul infections drive COVID-19 spike in South Korea

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Seoul infections drive COVID-19 spike in South Korea

South Korea reported the most new coronavirus cases in months on Friday, spurred by a surge in the capital city of Seoul.South Korea’s Centers for

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South Korea reported the most new coronavirus cases in months on Friday, spurred by a surge in the capital city of Seoul.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 324 new coronavirus infections, marking the highest single-day total since early March and the eighth consecutive triple-digit increase.

While most of those recently infected live in the capital, the newest cases could be traced back to practically all of South Korea’s major cities, from Busan to Gwangju, Daejeon, Sejong and Daegu.

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Daegu was the epicenter of a gargantuan outbreak early in the spring.

Seoul's emergency administrative order to prohibit public gatherings is posted at the entrance of a temporarily closed dance club in May.

Seoul’s emergency administrative order to prohibit public gatherings is posted at the entrance of a temporarily closed dance club in May.
(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The total caseload for the country has risen to more than 16,600 with over 300 dead from the fatal disease.

Previous viral clusters have been traced back to megachurches — like Seoul’s presbyterian Sarang Jeil Church and the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu — many of which harbor anti-government sentiment and have evaded quarantine and other health restrictions.

Members of the conservative Christian institutions, though, are hitting back at President Moon Jae-in’s administration, saying they have endured persecution and public shaming after being used as a scapegoat for the government’s mismanagement of the crisis.

While health officials eventually managed to contain the virus in the Daegu region in April, it remains unclear whether the same strategy will be as effective this time.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced that the country would ban large public gatherings and shut down churches and clubs in an effort to combat the disease’s spread.

In addition, Centers for Disease Control director Jeong Eun-kyeong recommended stronger social distancing measures, potentially including bans on gatherings of over 10 people, shutting down schools and sports, and advising residents to work from home.

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Jeong noted that the country is now conducting 50,000 tests per day — more than double the testing during the Daegu outbreak — and 732 infections had been confirmed as linked with the Sarang Jeil Church.

“It’s the biggest crisis since coronavirus came into our country,” Moon warned Friday at a meeting at Seoul City Hall.

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