May 30, 2020 08:43
Health experts predict a second wave of coronavirus infections later this year. Korean experts have moved up the estimated time of a second wave of infections from winter to the coming summer as new infections have jumped in the Seoul metropolitan region over the past few days.
One surge of new infections originated from clubs in Seoul's party district of Itaewon, followed by an outbreak at a warehouse run by online commerce company Coupang in Gyeonggi Province.
The number of infections in Korea had shrunk to single digits earlier this month but has been rising again since mid-May.
Prof. Kim Woo-joo of Korea University Guro Hospital said, "The second wave hasn't arrived yet, but it's possible that it could happen in summer instead of autumn if the numbers keep increasing and individuals and communities don't abide by hygiene guidelines."
"Currently, most new infections are occurring in the Seoul metropolitan region. We're worried that the population here is more than three times as large as Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province" where the first peak occurred, he added.
New infections could spread much faster due to the vast numbers of commuters cooped up together on public transportation and population density. The fear is that there could be too many infections for medical professionals to handle effectively. "It'll be impossible for health authorities to bring the situation under control if there's an explosive spike," Kim said.
"We must not let our guard down but stay alert... while the development of a vaccine still has a long way to go," he said. "We still need to thoroughly observe social distancing and quarantine rules in some areas of society, despite somewhat eased restrictions," added Prof. Yeom Ho-gi of Inje University Seoul Paik Hospital.
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