WORLD-NEWS-CORONAVIRUS-SKOREA-1-LA

Bouncers ask patrons for their QR codes before allowing them into Nightclub 7 in Daejeon, South Korea, on June 5, 2020. The South Korean government is rolling out the use of QR codes before entry, as a precaution to allow for contact tracing, in an event of a coronavirus outbreak. The QR code is required in certain types of establishments: night clubs, karaokes, indoor sports facilities and concert spaces. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

South Korean health authorities on Saturday reported new coronavirus cases in the triple digits for the second day in a row, as the country continues to see an uptick in local infections, prompting the government to impose new restrictions.

Of the 166 new daily cases recorded, 155 were locally transmitted, according to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The total number of infections now stands at 15,039.

Saturday morning's figure was already up from 138 reported late Friday, the highest local increase since March 11 when the country reported 242 new daily infections, according to news agency Yonhap.

Yonhap reported that the KCDC had warned of the greater Seoul area edging towards another spike in cases.

South Korea has seen sporadic cluster infections since it relaxed stricter social distancing on May 6.

The government imposed a range of restrictions in the Seoul metropolitan area on Saturday in response to the latest spike.

Public institutions including welfare centers, libraries and museums are now to remain closed in Seoul and the neighboring Gyeonggi province for the next two weeks.

Clubs, karaoke bars, gyms and concert halls may also be closed down again if they fail to follow protective guidelines including making lists of visitors.

Further measures include soccer and baseball league games being played behind closed doors again, after stadiums had partially reopened to fans.

The authorities are concerned that the latest outbreak could increase beyond their control. Seoul is particularly badly affected, with clusters emerging among church congregations in the city and its surroundings.

"The situation is serious," said Kwon Jun Wook, the KCDC's deputy director. He called on residents in the greater Seoul area to refrain from taking weekend trips to other regions.

 

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