South Korea reports lowest COVID-19 cases since new wave of outbreaks last month

South Korea reports lowest COVID-19 cases since new wave of outbreaks last month

General view of an empty restaurant during a lunch hour, in Seoul
An empty restaurant during a lunch hour amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Seoul, South Korea, Aug 27, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

SEOUL: South Korea on Monday (Sep 28) reported 50 new coronavirus cases, the lowest since a new wave of outbreaks emerged from a church and a large political rally last month.

Of the new cases, 40 were domestic and 10 imported, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The numbers were the lowest since Aug 11, just before a new cluster of infections emerged from a church whose members attended an anti-government rally in Seoul on Aug 15, which had boosted the daily tally to more than 440 late last month.

The outbreaks have prompted the government to take unprecedented social distancing measures including a ban on on-site night-time dining.

READ: Graves, trains and traditional pancakes – How COVID-19 is changing Chuseok, one of South Korea’s biggest holidays

Some of the rules have been eased in recent weeks after the rate of daily infections slowed, but officials were still on high alert ahead of the Korean thanksgiving holiday of Chuseok this week, when tens of millions of people travel across the country.

The government said the social distancing rules will remain in place during the holidays, calling for people to refrain from trips and gatherings and banning a "drive-thru" protest planned by some civic groups.

Some 137 demonstrations planned by some civic groups have already been banned, said Son Young-rae, a senior official at the health ministry.

Health authorities have said the daily cases need to be maintained around 50 or less for the rules to be relaxed, and would review the policy after the holidays.

"We've already seen how COVID-19 spread quickly during previous holidays and its consequences," Son told a briefing. "How we handle virus control during the upcoming holidays would affect the trend in the autumn and winter."

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Source: Reuters/dv