May 29, 2020 11:20
Coronavirus infections are spreading among workers at a warehouse run by online commerce company Coupang in Bucheon west of Seoul, surging to 90 just five days after the first confirmed case was detected on May 23.
The virus was detected on hats and shoes worn by some of the workers, suggesting that it may have spread without direct contact.
Another infection was detected at a different Coupang warehouse in Goyang just north of Seoul, bringing the total infections to 39 in Incheon, 32 in Gyeonggi Province and 19 in the capital itself.
The developments prompted government officials to reinstate some lockdown measures in the Seoul metropolitan area from Thursday until June 14.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half the 224 infections over the past 10 days were detected in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province.
The government on Thursday closed private crammers, karaoke parlors and bars again temporarily, as well as museums, parks and other public facilities. Outdoor activities and gatherings were permitted again just a month ago as long as people wore masks and maintained a safe distance from each other.
Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo told reporters on Thursday that officials "are trying their best to track down potentially infected people, but community transmissions have probably occurred already or may be quietly occurring now. If we fail to quickly stem the spread of infections in the Seoul metropolitan region, they will affect schools and students will not be able to return to classes."
Government officials are weary of another total lockdown just days after schools reopened and amid some signs of resurgent private spending boosted by the government's handing out of "disaster-relief" payments.
But Park urged the public to "refrain from going outside and having social gatherings for the next two weeks and avoid restaurants and bars where multiple infections have been detected."
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