SEOUL: A man from Yongin city who travelled out of his hometown with three friends and went clubbing in a popular nightlife district in Seoul has tested positive for COVID-19, sparking fears of a second wave of infections.
At least 14 other cases have now been confirmed to be linked to the 29-year-old man. They include three foreigners and one army officer.
South Korean media reported on Thursday (May 7) that the man had travelled to Gapyeong, Chuncheon and Hongcheon with his friends. On May 1, he and one of his travel partners, 31, went to the Itaewon neighbourhood in Seoul and visited a total of five nightclubs.
One of the venues, King Club, confirmed the men's visit, but said it had complied with COVID-19 measures such as taking guests' temperatures, keeping an entry log, allowing guests to wear face masks and offering hand sanitiser.
The man was not aware that he had caught the virus when he went club-hopping, Yonhap News reported. He developed a high fever and diarrhoea the next day, and tested positive for the coronavirus on May 6.
Said to be an employee at a software company in Seongnam, the man reportedly took a taxi home at around 4.40am after clubbing. At 4pm on Saturday, he went out for dinner and came home in a friend's car. He visited a pharmacy and hospital the next day, and stayed home all day on Monday.
He was admitted into a hospital in Suwon on Wednesday.
The man's 31-year-old friend has also tested positive despite being asymptomatic, while five of the man's close contacts have been cleared of the virus. More than 40 of the man's close contacts at the company he works for have been identified for testing.
Authorities said they believe the case to be one of community transmission as the man had not travelled overseas nor did he have any known contact with a confirmed case.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Friday, an estimated 1,510 people or more visited the five nightlife establishments.
"It is highly likely that there are more cases down the road," Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip said during the KCDC briefing.
The country has recorded more than 10,000 coronavirus cases to date and has kept its number of new cases below 20 for weeks. Most operations returned to normal on Wednesday, with workers going back to offices, and museums and libraries reopened under eased social distancing rules.
Schools in South Korea are set to reopen in stages starting from May 13.
Under what Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun referred to as "everyday life quarantine", South Koreans are still encouraged to wear face masks and wash their hands frequently, among other recommendations.