Virus rebounds around South Korean capital

The coronavirus has rebounded around the South Korean capital Seoul, prompting tighter measures.
The coronavirus has rebounded around the South Korean capital Seoul, prompting tighter measures.

District authorities around the South Korean capital have moved to curb large gatherings and officials have urged churchgoers and some health care workers to avoid crowds as the number of new coronavirus once again increased.

The densely populated Seoul metropolitan area was home to all but one of the 38 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.

Hundreds of recent cases have been linked to workplaces, including call centres and a massive warehouse operated by local e-commerce giant Coupang, which officials say failed to properly enforce preventive measures and distance between workers.

At least two dozen cases have been linked to churches near Seoul.

Incheon, a port city west of Seoul, banned gatherings at some 4200 churches and other religious facilities.

Gyeonggi province, which surrounds the capital, issued an administrative order to shut down warehouses, funeral homes and wedding halls.

Health Minister Park Neunghoo pleaded with churchgoers and employees of hospitals and nursing homes to avoid unnecessary gatherings to reduce infection risks for senior citizens and others who are medically vulnerable.

He also called for school officials to double-check their preventive measures as the country proceeds with a phased reopening of schools.

Nearly 1.8 million children - high school freshmen, middle-school juniors and third - and fourth-grade elementary school students - are expected to return to school on Wednesday.

Australian Associated Press