SEOUL: South Korea will reimpose a ban on nightclubs, karaoke bars and other nightly entertainment facilities, authorities said on Friday (Apr 9), after the number of new COVID-19 cases surged, fanning fears over a potential fourth wave of outbreaks.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced the curbs, which take effect on Monday for three weeks, after daily new case counts climbed to a three-month high in recent days. The current 10pm dining curfew and ban on gatherings of more than four people will be maintained, he said.
"Signs of a fourth wave of epidemics that we had so striven to head off are drawing nearer and becoming stronger," Chung told a daily meeting on the pandemic. "We will maintain the current distancing level, but actively reinforce various specific measures depending on the situation."
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 671 new cases for Thursday, a day after the daily tally hit the highest level since early January, with clusters developing from churches, bars and gyms, mostly in the greater Seoul area.
Total infections rose to 108,269, with 1,764 deaths so far.
In one of South Korea’s earlier and more high-profile cases of COVID-19, a spike in infections in May last year was linked to a 29-year man who went clubbing in a popular nightlife district in Seoul.
The man and one of his travel partners had visited five nightclubs in the Itaewon neighbourhood on May 1. He developed a high fever and diarrhoea the next day, and tested positive for the coronavirus on May 6.
At least 14 other were eventually linked to the man, including three foreigners and one army officer.