South Korea sees fewest virus cases after tightening distancing
South Korea recorded 168 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Friday, posting the lowest daily tally in three weeks after imposing stricter social distancing rules to blunt a second wave of infections.
Friday’s new cases were the lowest since a major outbreak emerged from a Christian church whose members attended a large political rally on Aug. 15.
NUMBERS ARE ON A DOWNWARD TREND
The daily tallies have been hovering below 200 over the past three days after peaking at 441 late last week, a sign that tougher social distancing curbs implemented last Sunday have begun taking effect.
The measures included an unprecedented step of curbing the operation of eateries in the Seoul metropolitan area, where the current spread is concentrated, banning onsite dining after 9 p.m. and limiting coffee and bakery franchises to takeout and delivery all day.
The government on Friday extended the rules until Sept. 13, saying more time is needed for sharper drops in new infections. “The numbers are indeed on a downward trend but it’s too early for us to be at ease,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a meeting on Saturday.
The efforts to dampen the ongoing outbreak have been complicated by a strike of some 16,000 interns and resident doctors who oppose the government’s plans to reform the medical sector to better handle future epidemics.
The country’s top medical body agreed on Friday with the government to end the walkout, only to face an immediate backlash from trainee doctors who rejected the deal and continued the strike.