August 08, 2022 13:47
COVID-19 is spreading faster again in the peak summer holiday season as vacationers pack beaches and resorts without wearing masks.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, daily new cases rose above 100,000 for six days running until Sunday. The weekly increase rate grew from the 10-20 percent range to 40 percent again.
Major holiday spots like beaches and water parks are particularly vulnerable. There is no mask mandate for outdoor amusement parks or beaches, but operators are asking visitors to be responsible.
The mask mandate is still in effect in restrooms and locker rooms and outdoor performance venues with a capacity of more than 50 seats but it is widely flaunted.
People in their 20s and 30s now make up the biggest group of new cases. In July, about 260,000 people in their 20s were infected, accounting for the largest percentage of all 1.41 million new cases, followed by about 220,000 30-somethings. Together they took up 33.6 percent of new cases.
Many people are reluctant to test for the virus despite symptoms or simply lead a normal life without self-isolating at home even when they test positive. These "hidden" cases could lead to an uncontrollable spread.
"I've kept meeting friends because I have no symptoms, except an occasional cough," one 26-year-old office worker said. "I can't understand why patients should self-isolate at home at a time when the cumulative infections have already surpassed 20 million."
Chun Eun-mi at Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital said, "Many could test positive late this month after they return from holiday."
Some forecast daily new cases could begin taking a downward turn this month, but warn that numbers of critically ill patients and deaths could also increase. They stress the need to brace for another surge in infections.
Jung Jae-hun at Gachon University's Gil Medical Center said, "A new surge could occur in November due to the potential emergence of a new variant since they now surface every three to six months in major countries."
On Monday morning, the tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 55,292.
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