Asia Today: South Korea has virus jump before holiday period


South Korea has reported 113 new cases of COVID-19, its first daily increase over 100 in five days, as the country entered a holiday break that officials fear would possibly worsen transmissions

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 113 new cases of COVID-19, its first daily increase over 100 in five days, as the country entered a holiday break that officials fear would possibly worsen transmissions.

The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday brought the caseload to 23,812, including 413 deaths.

Eighty-one of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to stem transmissions linked to various sources, including churches, medical facilities, restaurants, schools and workers. The newest cluster of infections is a mental hospital in northern Seoul where at least 30 have been infected.

Twenty of the new cases were tied to international arrivals.

Officials have called for citizen vigilance ahead of the Chuseok harvest festival that began Wednesday and continues through the weekend.

While millions of South Koreans travel during Chuseok every year to visit relatives, officials have pleaded that people stay home to help stem transmissions. Nightclubs, bars, buffet restaurants and other establishments deemed as “high-risk” will be shut in Seoul during the holiday period to reduce gatherings.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— North Korea called on governments to “display effective leadership” in the fight against COVID-19 and said its own measures against the pandemic ensured it had the threat “under safe and stable control.” Kim Song, the country’s U.N. ambassador, said a tightly administered anti-pandemic effort in his nation had been working. North Korea strictly regulates foreign visitors and filters all information through its state propaganda apparatus, with details about its approach to the coronavirus relatively scant. “A series of state measures are now being taken to block the virus inflow into the country, and all people adhere strictly to anti-epidemic regulations while maintaining the highest alert,” he said. Separately, state media reported the nation’s leader Kim Jong Un had presided over a Politburo meeting where officials warned against complacency and addressed unspecified problems in the anti-virus campaign.



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