South Korea reported 1,030 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, its largest single-day jump and the second daily record in a row, putting pressure on authorities to further tighten physical distancing rules.
Of the new cases, 1,002 were locally transmitted, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KCDA) said, with most cases linked to outbreaks at private gatherings, churches and a hospital in the Greater Seoul area.
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The figure brought South Korea’s total caseload to 42,766 infections with 580 deaths.
The East Asian country was praised for its earlier success in containing COVID-19 without a lockdown by relying heavily on contact-tracing and testing.
But Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Saturday said further tightening physical distancing restriction to the nation’s highest level would be inevitable if the third wave of infections continued.
Greater Seoul is currently under level 2.5 restrictions, with nightclubs closed and restaurants allowed to provide only deliveries and takeouts after 9pm. Raising curbs to 3, the highest of the five levels, would require schools to switch to remote learning, allow only essential workers in offices and ban gatherings of more than 10 people.