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Seoul mulls reducing intensity of social distancing

All News 14:28 April 13, 2020

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will consider reducing the intensity of the ongoing social distancing campaign later this week, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Monday, as the number of new coronavirus cases has been stabilizing over the past week.

The government extended its high-intensity social distancing campaign by another two weeks through April 19, urging the entire nation to abide by strict quarantine guidelines to stem the spread of COVID-19. The tougher social distancing has called on people to avoid outdoor activities and mass gatherings in confined places, such as religious services.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased only by 25 over the previous day to total 10,537 as of Monday. The country's daily number of new virus cases has been below 50 in the last five days.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun speaks during a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters in Seoul on April 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

Chung said the government will begin discussions later this week on shifting its coronavirus-fighting posture to a low-intensity social distancing campaign, calling it an "everyday life quarantine."

"A critical week has begun," Chung said while presiding over a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.

The prime minister said a possible shift to everyday life quarantine doesn't mean a return to ordinary life seen before the coronavirus outbreak.

He defined the low-intensity distancing campaign as one in which people are required to continue to distance themselves from one another to some degree to lower the risk of infection, while engaging in some economic and social activities.

"Views from medical and quarantine professionals will be important in the government's possible quarantine policy shift," Chung said.

"Any hasty move to reduce the intensity of the campaign may force us to pay an irreversible price. We may not be able to return to the previous normal life for a long time," Chung said.

President Moon Jae-in said last Friday that South Korea may be able to end the social distancing campaign and shift to a daily quarantine routine if there is no rebound in infections through Easter and the general elections slated for Wednesday.


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