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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Aug. 4)

All News 07:03 August 04, 2020

Holiday alert
There should be no let-up in anti-virus rules

With the summer holiday season at its peak, cases of small COVID-19 outbreaks are emerging throughout the nation to raise our alert level.

In living with the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer holiday timeframe is critical because we have learned that once a mass infection breaks out, it will take a few months to bring the virus under control. The May outbreak triggered from Itaewon clubs took more than two months to ease. What we can draw from that is any infection cluster this summer may well lead to a possible second wave of COVID-19 infections in fall or winter.

Koreans have been relatively successful in fighting the pandemic, while still being able to enjoy normalcy in life. Effective management by health authorities and compliance by the citizenry have kept Korea's fight with COVID-19 at a total of 14,389 infected patients and slightly more than 300 deaths.

Our vigilance cannot afford to slip into laxity because of the holidays. Holidaymakers have been traveling across and throughout the nation, increasing the possibility of spreading infection. With the outdoors being deemed safer than indoors and crowded spaces, people have increasingly turned to camping. But the moment our guards are let down just even a little, COVID-19 strikes again. The infections that occurred at a camping site in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, illustrate that point. Of 18 people belonging to six families, nine were infected. It shows that being outdoors does not provide immunity when family members or friends eat and talk in close proximity without masks.

Authorities at popular Haeundae Beach said they had warned more than 1,000 people over the weekend for either not wearing a mask or putting it just below their nose or chin. No fines were given out even though mask-wearing was mandated since July 25. But we have to ask ourselves whether more stringent enforcement is necessary.

Infections are also spot-flaring in such facilities as coffee shops and restaurants in urban areas. Compounding health concerns is that post-monsoon time is usually accompanied by water borne diseases. An increase in the number of cases may overwhelm our quarantine and medical facilities should a second wave of infections arrive.

Those already on holiday and those seeking holiday should heed Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who has pinpointed the summer vacation time as one of the current three top danger elements to the pandemic.

An intricate mix of authorities' management and civic vigilance is all the more called for. Personal hygiene recommendations of wearing masks, washing hands and keeping two meters apart must be kept. People feeling sick should refrain from going out, and stay away from enclosed, crowded and closed spaces among others.

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