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South Korea imposes tight restrictions as country sees resurgence in coronavirus cases

South Korea imposes tight restrictions as country sees resurgence in coronavirus cases
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South Korea is imposing tight COVID-19 pandemic measures nationwide as cases rise throughout the southern peninsula.

The government is banning large gatherings, shutting down nightclubs and churches, closing beaches, and removing fans from professional sporting events to curb the spread of the virus, The Associated Press reported.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo announced the new measures following a notice from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting 332 new cases.

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The report marks the ninth straight day of triple-digit case increases.

"We are now in a very dangerous situation that could trigger a massive nationwide spread of COVID-19," Park said.

While most cases were concentrated in Seoul, new infections have spiked in every major city and town.

The national COVID-19 caseload is now at 17,002, with 309 fatalities.

Church gatherings are reportedly the biggest source of the spread, but authorities in Seoul also shut down buffet restaurants, karaoke bars and computer gaming cafes.

According to the AP, nearly 800 of the country's cases were linked to a church in Seoul led by a vocal critic of South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in.

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The measures will apply nationwide from Sunday, although Park said some local governments would be allotted some flexibility, such as advising businesses to shut down rather than forcing them to close.

The measures will be imposed until the government has reviewed the effect of the restrictions on case numbers, said Yoon Taeho, a senior Health Ministry official.

He added that stricter measures could be imposed if case numbers continue to spike.