South Korea Faces New Flare-Up in Virus Cases Tied to Nightclubs

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A potential second wave of coronavirus infections could be possible in South Korea after confirmed cases suddenly increased after a lull, with a surge tied to nightclubs in Seoul.

The total number of cases linked tonightclubs in Itaewon in Seoul, visited by a 29-year-old patient earlier this month, increased to 40 as of noon Saturday in Seoul, the city’s Mayor Park Won-soon said in a briefing Saturday. Park ordered the closing of all nightclubs, discos, hostess bars and other similar nightlife establishments in the capital.

The sudden spike in cases has sparked memories of an outbreak at a religious sect in late February, which sent daily infections in the nation to almost 1,000.

South Korea, which in early March had the second highest number of cases globally after China, has been able to control the virus spread without having to take severe measures such as imposing a lockdown or banning overseas travel. Instead authorities have relied instead on a massive testing and tracing regime.

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun pledged to mobilize all available resources to contain a further spread of the virus. The country began easing its social distancing campaign and earlier this week announced that schools will start reopening May 13.

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