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South Korea sees 10th-straight day of triple-digit coronavirus case increases

South Korea sees 10th-straight day of triple-digit coronavirus case increases
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South Korea has reimposed several social-distancing measures after the nation’s coronavirus cases increased by triple digits for the 10th consecutive day.

The nation closed beaches and churches and banned fans from baseball games after the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 397 new cases of the virus Sunday. A new spike in the virus began in the Seoul region before spreading to most of South Korea’s other major cities and towns, The Associated Press reported.

KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said the daily increases may climb in the days ahead.

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“We don’t see the current state as the peak ... we believe that infections could further increase,” she said during a briefing, the AP reported. “Patients are increasing not only in the Seoul metropolitan region, but also across the 17 (major) cities and provinces throughout the country, pushing us on the verge of a massive nationwide outbreak.”

Officials had long resisted reimposing lockdown measures for fear of damaging the national economy. They finally relented on Sunday, barring indoor gatherings of more 50 people and shuttering buffet restaurants, nightclubs and karaoke venues. Seoul officials will also require masks in public indoors and outdoors. The country has required masks on public transport since May, but enforcement has proven a challenge.

Korean officials may also raise the distancing requirements to “Level 3,” under which schools would be closed and gatherings of more than 10 people would be banned. Professional sports would also be shut down entirely and officials would strongly suggest private companies tell employees to work from  home, according to the AP.

“An elevation to ‘Level 3’ practically means the stoppage of all daily activities aside of essential social and economic activities, and that would bring painful results to all our people and the economy as a whole,” senior Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho said during a separate briefing.