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S. Korea reviews tightening social distancing as new infections surge

All News 12:08 August 14, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government on Friday launched a review on raising the level of social distancing as new cluster infections in the greater Seoul area fanned fears of a possibly bigger outbreak.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said it views the status quo in a "grave" manner, saying it has started to review tightening social distancing by one notch in the so-called capital area, which includes Seoul and Gyeonggi Province.

The government considers raising the anti-infection measure when daily new infections reach 50 to 100 over a two-week period or when infection clusters that are being closely monitored continue to grow.

A health worker at a screening center set up in the central Seoul ward of Jung assists a visitor on Aug. 14, 2020. (Yonhap)

The latest move comes as cluster infections coming from small churches are growing. Many of the infected patients were found to have had meals together or not worn masks, which health authorities advise against.

The agency urged churches to voluntarily follow anti-infection guidelines, such as restricting meals or small gatherings and praying or singing out aloud. Churches that do not follow the guidelines could face financial penalties, it added.

Under the Level 2 social distancing, gatherings of 50 or more people that take place indoors and of 100 or more people outdoors are restricted.

Sports events are held without fans, and the operation of public facilities is suspended. High-risk facilities, such as bars, have to suspend business, while other facilities are mandated to follow safety guidelines such as making visitors wear masks and limiting the number of visitors.

"The recent domestic infection spread is quite unusual," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said in a government response meeting earlier in the day, "If situations worsen slightly, we cannot help but review raising the social distancing level in the greater Seoul area."

A citizen is tested for the new coronavirus at a screening center installed in central Seoul on Aug. 14, 2020. (Yonhap)


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