South Korea’s Covid-19 cases, deaths spike again

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South Korea has added another new 1,092 infections of the coronavirus in a resurgence that is erasing hard-won epidemiological gains and eroding public confidence in the government’s ability to handle the outbreak.

The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday brought the national caseload to 52,550, with more than 13,130 cases added in the last two weeks alone.

Seventeen Covi-19 patients died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 739 as concerns grow about a shortage in intensive care beds. At least 284 of the country’s 15,085 active patients were in serious or critical condition.

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South Korea had been seen as a success story against Covid-19 after health workers managed to contain a major outbreak in its southeastern region in spring, when the majority of infections were linked to a single church congregation in Daegu city.

But critics say the country gambled on its own success by easing social distancing restrictions to help the economy. The spread of the virus is now mainly in the densely populated capital region, and health workers are struggling mightily to track infections occurring just about everywhere, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and army units.

Also read: Japan, S Korea fret as surging Covid-19 cases undermine leaders’ support

The government has restored some social distancing restrictions in recent weeks and will clamp down on private social gatherings of five or more people between Christmas Eve and January 3.

Restaurants could be fined if they accept large groups, ski resorts and national parks will be closed, and hotels cannot sell more than 50 per cent of their rooms during the period.



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