Lockdown Fails to Contain Infection Surge

  • By Lee Joon-woo, Jin Joong-eon

    July 29, 2021 10:00

    Coronavirus infections hit a new daily record on Wednesday despite lockdown being tightened across the country, and now even tougher restrictions loom.

    Lockdown was tightened in the Seoul metropolitan area on July 12 and for the rest of the country on Tuesday, but the tally of new infections has been above 1,000 a day for three weeks. For now the current restrictions will remain in place until Aug. 8.

    Part of the reason is that people are increasingly ignoring the rules due to lockdown fatigue and distrust of a government that has bungled the vaccination rollout.

    People wait at a coronavirus test center in Seoul on Wednesday. /Newsis

    On Tuesday, 1,212 people tested positive in the capital region alone, crossing the 1,200 mark for the first time, while 611 people tested positive elsewhere, including 99 in Busan, 93 in South Gyeongsang Province, 74 each in Daejeon and Gangwon Province, and 54 in Daegu.

    But there are differences in transmission patterns. According to a study by health authorities of transmission routes last week, 3,677 or 54.4 percent in the capital region had been infected after coming into contact with individual carriers in their daily life, up 5.6 percentage points from two weeks earlier.

    Many infections outside the capital occurred among groups with 1,162 or about 33 percent. The proportion of patients who became infected after coming into contact with previous patients, was 40.7 percent compared to the capital region's 54.4 percent, but the rate of group infections was about three times higher than the Seoul region's 11.4 percent.

    This is probably because of an influx of vacationers in these regions. That suggests the government's appeal to people to refrain from going on holiday fell on deaf ears. According to smartphone tracking data, traffic increased both in the capital and elsewhere.

    The government on Wednesday said it will consider more stringent lockdown rules unless current rules finally prove effective by next week. The problem is that the government does not have any other solutions in its sleeves since lockdown has already been tightened to the highest possible level in the capital region.

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