SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea reported 205 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, rising above 200 for the first time since September, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday.
Of the cases, 166 were domestically transmitted and 39 imported. More than 65% of the locally transmitted cases were from Seoul and Gyeonggi province, a densely populated region near the capital.
South Korea began fining people who fail to wear masks in public on Friday, when it reported 191 new coronavirus cases, with daily infections continuing to creep higher.
President Moon Jae-in urged authorities and local governments to raise their awareness of the spread of the coronavirus, reinforcing thorough supervision of safety guidelines such as mandatory mask wearing.
“As we are the point where there are increased travel and meetings, it would be difficult to maintain the current quarantine stage” of the nation’s social-distancing scheme, Moon said in a Facebook post.
“If we lower our guard and disregard quarantine measures, our jobs and daily lives would be put at risk and greater damage and suffering may come,” Moon added.
The country is “inching closer” to needing to tighten social distancing, as confirmed cases increase substantially, senior KDCA official Lim Sook-young told a briefing.
Confirmed daily cases have averaged 122.4 this week, jumping
from 88.7 last week and 75.3 in the fourth week of October, according to the KDCA.
Four South Korean soccer players and one staff member tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, though none showed symptoms, Yonhap reported on Saturday.
The latest daily tally takes the country’s total number of infections to 28,338 with 492 deaths, according to the KDCA.
The government is in final talks with global drugmakers over potential vaccines as it seeks to secure supplies to cover 60% of its population this year.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Daniel and William Mallard)