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(LEAD) As temperature rises in S. Korea, worries grow over wearing face masks

National 14:20 June 04, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; ADDS details in first four paras, last three paras)

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's weather agency issued this year's first heat wave advisory for the country's southern region Thursday, raising concerns over wearing anti-virus face masks amid the warmer weather.

The weather agency said the advisory went into effect in Daegu, 302 kilometers southeast of Seoul, as well as the nearby cities and counties of Cheongdo, Gimcheon, Chilgok, Seongju, Goryeong and Gyeongsan, starting 11 a.m.

The advisory was also issued in parts of South and North Jeolla Provinces, including Suncheon, Gwangyang, Gurye and Sunchang counties, it added.

The daytime temperature was forecast to peak at over 33 C in the affected areas, while the mercury was expected to rise over 30 C in other parts of the country, such as the eastern coastal area and Chungcheong provinces.

The advisory comes amid concerns over wearing thick face masks during warm weather.

Health authorities have been trying to search for more realistic anti-virus measures for the summer season, as the outbreak shows no sign of letting up.

The government recently approved thinner face masks in a move that is expected to help cap the price for so-called "dental masks."

A local mask manufacturer is scheduled to start selling them online Friday, with each mask tentatively priced at 500 won (40 US cents).

The government currently rations two kinds of thicker but more durable masks at 1,500 won per piece through pharmacies and designated outlets.

The government has toughened its guidelines on wearing masks in everyday life as new coronavirus cases continue to rise in double-digits.

Starting late last month, passengers using buses, subways and taxis are advised to wear face masks. Drivers can refuse to offer rides to passengers not wearing masks.

South Korea reported a COVID-19 caseload of 11,629 as of Thursday, with most of the recent cases concentrated in the capital area.

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk past a pharmacy in the central Seoul ward of Jongno on May 31, 2020. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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