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扛不住了!韩国叫停与病毒共存模式,禁止5人及以上社交聚会 South Korea bans gatherings of 5 or more people amid virus surge

chinadaily.com.cn 2021-12-17 15:05




People get nucleic acid test at a sampling site in Seoul, South Korea, Dec 11, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

South Korea will prohibit private social gatherings of five or more people nationwide and force restaurants to close at 9 pm, rolling out the country's toughest coronavirus restrictions.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Thursday that the new measures will be enforced for at least 16 days after taking effect on Saturday.

Schools in the densely populated capital Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas, where the virus has hit hardest, will also go back to remote learning after fully reopening in November.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 7,622 new cases on Thursday, close to the daily record of 7,850 set a day earlier. That brought the national caseload to 544,117, with nearly 97,000 added in December alone.

Most of the transmissions were in the capital region, where officials say more than 86% of intensive care units designated for COVID-19 treatment are already occupied amid a spike in hospitalizations and deaths.

More than 890 virus patients died this month, bringing the country’s death toll to 4,518. As of Thursday morning, a record 989 patients were in serious or critical condition.

“During this period of standstill, the government will reinforce the stability of our medical response capabilities,” said Kim during a virus meeting. “We ask our people to respond to these efforts by actively getting vaccinated.”

After hesitating for weeks, officials moderately tightened social distancing rules last week, banning gatherings of seven or more people in the Seoul metropolitan area and requiring adults to verify their vaccination status to use restaurants and other businesses, but such measures didn’t meaningfully slow the virus' spread.

Jung Eun-kyeong said the country could see daily infections exceed 10,000 or 20,000 in the coming weeks if it fails to meaningfully slow transmissions now.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said the four-person gatherings limit will only be applied to fully vaccinated adults. Those who aren't fully vaccinated will be required to eat alone at restaurants, Kwon said. The rules won’t be applied to children 18 years or younger. Restaurants, coffee shops, gyms and karaoke venues will be required to close at 9 pm, while movie theaters, concert halls and private cram schools will have to close at 10 pm.


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