South Korea weighs measures to contain new outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The mayor of the South Korean capital fears that the country is losing control in the face of a coronavirus outbreak and warned that Seoul will reimpose stronger social distancing measures if the daily increase in Infections do not drop below an average of 30 in the next three days.

“If (the virus) enters Seoul, it will enter the entire Republic of Korea,” Park Won-soon said during a televised briefing on Monday, using the formal name of South Korea.

He also lamented what he described as overconfidence by citizens regarding social distancing, citing an increase in the use of public transport that, according to him, has approached last year’s levels in recent weeks.

Citing the investigations of health experts, Park said the country could be reporting up to 800 new cases a day in a month from now if it fails to stop current trends in infections. He said that the basic number of reproduction among virus carriers, which measures the number of infections caused by an individual, has reached almost 1.8 during the period from April 30 to June 11. Any number above 1 indicates a growing epidemic.

In a separate briefing, South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Jeong Eun-kyeong acknowledged that the country was experiencing a second wave of infections, following a surge in late February and March around the south-eastern city of Daegu.

South Korea has reported 40 to 50 new cases per day since late May, primarily in the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live. In addition, it reported around 500 new cases per day in early March, but managed to control the outbreak with an active campaign of testing and tracing contacts of already infected people.