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New virus cases bounce back over 600, tighter curbs considered

All News 10:17 December 06, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- The daily number of new coronavirus cases bounced back to over 600 on Sunday as authorities are considering raising social distancing measures to curb the relentless surge in COVID-19 transmissions.

The country added 631 more COVID-19 cases, including 599 local infections, raising the total caseload to 37,546, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Five additional coronavirus fatalities were reported, bringing the total to 545.

Test-takers leave Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul after an essay examination, which is part of the national college entrance test process on Dec. 5, 2020. The university banned parents and vehicles from entering its campus to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Yonhap)

Health authorities will discuss whether to boost the social distancing measures by one notch from Level 2 in the greater Seoul area encompassing Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province and from Level 1.5 in other areas later in the day as the recently raised social distancing measures are considered ineffective.

The country's social distancing level was pushed up to Level 2, the third highest in the five-tier system, in the greater Seoul area about two weeks ago, which includes the suspension of entertainment facilities, such as nightclubs. Starting Tuesday for one week, the authorities implemented additional restrictions on saunas, aerobic centers and similar facilities where COVID-19 could easily be spread.

Despite the toughened social distancing steps, new coronavirus cases have skyrocketed, especially in the greater Seoul area, putting health officials on edge.

In a bid to curb the soaring infections in Seoul, the Seoul government said on Friday that stores, theaters and multiple other facilities must close after 9 p.m. with public transportation service reduced by 30 percent.

Of the additional locally transmitted cases, 253 from Seoul were reported and 176 from the surrounding Gyeonngi Province. Incheon, just west of Seoul, added 41 more cases. The greater Seoul area is home to about half of the country's 51.6 million population.

The number of imported cases came to 32, up from 24 the previous day.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 29,128, up 211 from Saturday.

ksnam@yna.co.kr
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