South Korea sets new daily record for COVID-19 cases

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – South Korea reported 1,030 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, a record for a second day in a row as the country struggles to cope with a third wave of infections.
The country had previously been touted as a model in combating the pandemic, with the public largely respecting social distancing and other rules.

But a resurgence centered on the capital and surrounding areas prompted President Moon Jae-in to apologize on Facebook for his administration’s inability to contain the latest wave.

On Saturday, he called the situation “very serious” after authorities reported 950 new infections, the largest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.

Saturday’s record was broken on Sunday with 1,002 new locally transmitted cases, of which 786 were discovered in the greater Seoul area, where half of the country’s 52 million people live.

The weekend numbers followed several days in which authorities reported numbers ranging from around 500 to 600.

South Korea’s peak came despite the government’s tightening of social distancing rules in the capital region earlier this week.

Stricter restrictions include banning gatherings of more than 50 people and spectators at sporting events. Cafes can only serve take-out, while restaurants must close before 9 p.m., with only deliveries allowed thereafter.

However, authorities said on Saturday they may need to tighten the brakes at the highest level by shutting down schools, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and allowing only essential workers in offices.

South Korea has suffered one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks outside of mainland China, but has largely brought it under control through its ‘trace, test and treat’ approach.

It has never imposed the type of orderly lockdown in much of Europe and other parts of the world.

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