August 14, 2020 13:02
A spike in the number of coronavirus infections in the Seoul metropolitan area is raising alarms.
The number of new cases soared to 104 as of Friday morning, the first time in about 20 days to surpass 100 a day.
Two merchants in Seoul's crowded Dongdaemun Market found positive for coronavirus on Thursday and about a dozen were tested, following about a dozen merchants in Namedaemun Market who tested positive earlier this week.
Kwon Jun-wook, the deputy chief of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters, "What we're seeing now is a more serious crisis than the mass infections that were traced to clubs in Itaewon in May."
Kwon added that the latest group infections are cropping up all over the capital after a "silent transmission" phase, unlike the Itaewon infections that were traced to a single location. "It makes them more difficult to trace and contain," Kwon said.
Some 47 out of 56 new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday became infected in local communities, and 25 of them were traced to Seoul and 16 to surrounding Gyeonggi Province.
"We're going to have a difficult time containing the spread of the virus this weekend due to the long Liberation Day weekend and large rallies that are scheduled," he added.
Education officials are concerned about a raft of infections in schools that are set to reopen early next month.
"If the situation worsens, we may have to tighten social-distancing measures," Kwon said.
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