The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Friday that 600 of the newly confirmed cases were domestically transmitted - almost 80% of them in the densely populous Seoul area, which has been at the center of a viral resurgence.
A medical worker in a booth takes test samples for the COVID-19 coronavirus from a South Korean police officer at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's maneuver headquarters in Seoul on 19 August 2020.
The South Korean government has made a decision to raise social distancing requirements for the metropolitan area to the second-highest level as the daily count of coronavirus cases surpassed 600. "Despite our efforts to tighten social distancing, the daily number of infections rose to more than 500 last week from 400".
All gatherings of 50 or more people are banned, even at wedding halls and funeral halls, with authorities urging the public to refrain from having year-end gatherings and activities for the ensuing weeks and join the nationwide campaign to curb the virus spread.
"We are facing the biggest crisis in our fight against COVID-19", Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Sunday.
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In addition, 11 more deaths related to COVID-19 were reported in the past 24 hours increasing the death toll to 492. Island Health has 679 total cases since March with around one third now active.
South Korea avoided lockdowns but used an intensive system of tracing, testing and quarantining to tamp down two earlier waves of infection.
Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home.
Restaurants will continue to be prohibited from serving customers after 9 p.m. and can do only takeout and delivery.
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