SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry said Monday it decided to extend the restrictions on leave for service members for two weeks in an effort to stem the spread of the new coronavirus ahead of the Chuseok holiday.
Last month, the ministry imposed a ban on service members' vacations and restricted their off-installation outings, as the country began to see a surge in COVID-19 patients.
"We've decided to maintain the Level 2 social distancing scheme for all units across the country until Oct. 11," the ministry's deputy spokesperson Col. Moon Hong-sik said in a regular briefing.
"Vacationing is halted temporarily, and leaving bases for a brief one-day trip can be allowed if their community has not reported confirmed virus cases over the past two weeks," he added.
The extension, effective on Monday, came as the government designated a special two-week period for strong antivirus efforts around the Chuseok holiday, which traditionally entails mass movements of people and family gatherings across the country. This year's fall harvest holiday runs from Wednesday through Oct. 4.
South Korea sees the upcoming holiday as a key challenge for its virus fight.
On Monday, South Korea added 50 more new coronavirus cases, including 40 local infections, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The country's total caseload stood at 23,661.
Among service members and military-related individuals, 111 have been infected so far, and all of them fully recovered, according to the defense ministry.
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