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South Korea urges more testing over fear of holiday COVID-19 surge

South Korea urges more testing over fear of holiday COVID-19 surge

FILE PHOTO: A woman gets a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul, South Korea, Jul 15, 2021. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

SEOUL: South Korean authorities warned people returning from a holiday to get tested even for the mildest COVID-19 type symptoms, especially before clocking in for work amid a new surge in coronavirus cases in and around the capital.

The country, which has been grappling with a fourth wave of infections since early July, will on Friday (Sep 24) roll back the allowance gatherings during the Chuseok holiday week to two people after 6pm in the greater Seoul area.

Seoul saw 1,400 daily confirmed cases on average last week, up 11 per cent from a record high of 1,268 the prior week, Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae said on Wednesday.

Kang urged those returning from the three-day holiday, which started on Monday, to get tested to prevent transmission.

South Korea's popular tourist island of Jeju saw an average of more than 41,000 visitors a day during the holiday, up from about 32,000 in the same period last year, the Jeju Tourism Association told Reuters. More than 258,000 people have visited the island in six days.

Despite the high daily case numbers, the mortality rate and severe cases have remained relatively low and steady at 0.83 per cent and 312 respectively as of Wednesday, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) data showed.

The KDCA reported 1,716 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the total to 292,699 infections, with 2,427 deaths.

South Korea struggled to get vaccine supplies initially, but has supercharged its campaign in recent months, administering 71.2 per cent of the 52 million population with at least one dose through Wednesday and fully inoculated 43.2 per cent. 

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Source: Reuters/lk

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