Seoul announces new virus controls

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) — Authorities in the South Korean capital yesterday announced a tightening of social distancing regulations, including shutting entertainment establishments, limiting service hours at restaurants and reducing public transportation.

The measures going into effect today include a ban on public rallies or demonstrations of over 10 people. Restaurants can provide only take-out and delivery after 9pm, and public transportation will be limited after 10pm.

Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyup told reporters one-third of city employees will work from home.

Yesterday, the country reported 271 new cases of the coronavirus.

South Korea has seen the virus spread faster after authorities eased social distancing restrictions to the lowest level in October amid concerns about a weak economy.

People walk past a holiday set up at a shopping street in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: AP

Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said tightening guidelines was inevitable as a failure to slow transmissions now could “break the dam” in anti-virus efforts and result in a surge in infections nationwide that may overwhelm hospital systems.

“We need to reduce people-to-people contact,” she said during a briefing yesterday, pleading with people to cancel year-end meetings and other gatherings.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has re-opened some of the thousands of schools that have been closed for over a month due to a surge of the coronavirus.

Schools will remain closed in Colombo and it’s suburbs as the number of cases is still climbing in those parts.

According to the government’s decision, schools were re-opened only for students in grades six to 13.

The Education Ministry said there are 10,165 state-run schools in the country and arrangements were made to open 5,100 schools yesterday. Sri Lanka closed schools last month when two new clusters emerged in Colombo and it’s suburbs.

The confirmed cases from the two clusters had grown to 16,639.

India has registered 44,059 another new cases of the coronavirus and 511 deaths in the past 24 hours.

New Delhi yesterday added 5,879 new cases 111 deaths and its rate of positive testing is over three times the national average, authorities said.

India has reported more than nine million cases since the pandemic began, second behind the United States (US).