South Korea reports 255 new COVID-19 cases as tighter curbs take effect

Asia

SEOUL: South Korea reported another daily rise of more than 200 new COVID-19 cases on Monday (Nov 23), a day after it tightened social distancing rules as it battles a third wave of infections.

The daily tally of 271 new cases was a fall from the 330 reported on Sunday. Case counts had hovered above 300 for five straight days, a level not seen since August, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Officials have said that the numbers tend to drop during weekends due to reduced testing.

The government strengthened distancing rules for the capital Seoul and nearby regions on Sunday, closing bars and nightclubs, limiting religious gatherings and restricting on-site dining at restaurants from Tuesday.

The decision came less than a week after the guidelines were tightened ahead of annual college entrance exams scheduled for Dec 3.

South Korea has been considered a coronavirus success story for tackling the first major epidemic outside China without major disruptions, thanks to an aggressive tracing, testing and quarantine campaign.

But it continues to grapple with persistent cluster infections from offices, nursing homes and small gatherings, prompting authorities last week to declare that the country was fighting a third wave of infections.

Total infections are now at 31,004, with 509 deaths, KDCA data showed.

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