Coronavirus THIRD wave begins as desperate South Korea battles to stop global spread

Coronavirus: Expert unveils 'secretive church' in South Korea

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 583 new cases of coronavirus infections, down from 629 on Friday, which was the highest since the first wave peaked back in February.

Today, the government is to announce whether to further tighten curbs in the country, which initially had success through aggressive contact tracing as well as other steps.

Most establishments and shops in the capital have been handed a 9pm curfew for two weeks and public transport has been reduced by 30 percent in the evenings.

Seoul’s acting Mayor Sea Jeong-hyup said: “We have no room left for retreat.

“We will stop Seoul after 9pm, starting tomorrow.”

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The restrictions – which are expected to last two weeks – will see middle and high school classes moved to online.

Yoon Tae-ho, the health ministry’s public health policy director, told a briefing yesterday: “We cautiously predict that the current outbreak will not be easily suppressed.

“It is not centred on a certain occasion or group but is rather emerging at various everyday locations.”

Eom Joong Nik, an infectious diseases expert at Gachon University in Incheon, said South Korea’s response has been “preemptive”.

He said: “The basis of South Korea’s response has been preemptive, fast decisions for strong measures.

“If we forsake this principle for economic reasons, we won’t be able to control infections and may face an economic collapse as well.”

This week, new infections averaged around 487.9, which was an up of 80 cases from the week before.

KDCA official Lim Sook-young warned this latest wave of infections is different from the first two, which were driven by large-scale transmission.

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During a news briefing, Mr Lim said: “The recent outbreaks are small, multiple and is spread in people’s every day lives.

“Please keep in mind that the current wave is not limited to a specific group or place but may be around our house, family and acquaintances.”

South Korea’s capital, Seoul accounted for 235 of the new infections.

Confirmed cases linked to a dance class rose by nine to 249 in less than two weeks, while 21 people test positive in a cluster related to a wine bar.

The number of people seriously or severely ill with the virus rose by five to 121, KDCA reported.

Yesterday, there were just 59 sickbeds immediately available for serious or severe cases.

But those beds are likely to run out in less than two weeks.

Overall, South Korea has recorded more than 30,000 cases with deaths reaching just 540.

South Korea has widely been celebrated for curbing the spread of the virus.

The country has only a slightly smaller population than the UK but a much higher population density but has seemingly handled the outbreak more successfully.

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