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14 Dec, 2020 12:03

South Korea closes schools in capital region, prepares to raise social distancing curbs to highest level

South Korea closes schools in capital region, prepares to raise social distancing curbs to highest level

Authorities in the South Korea capital Seoul have ordered schools to shut in the city and surrounding areas from Tuesday as a new outbreak of coronavirus surpassed the previous peak in February.

Schools will have to move classes online in Seoul and outlying areas until the end of December. “The government will not hesitate to make the decision to upgrade to Phase 3 if it is considered necessary as it takes into account the opinions of related ministries, local governments, and experts,” PM Chung Sye-kyun said.

On Monday the country registered 718 new coronavirus cases, and 682 cases were locally transmitted. Total infections now stand at 43,484, with 587 deaths, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Most of the new cases were reported in the capital, the neighboring port city of Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province, home to over 25 million people.

South Korea is fighting a third wave of virus outbreaks nationwide, and the government is considering toughening social distancing restrictions to the highest level.

Authorities have already introduced a five-tier social distancing scheme, and the greater Seoul area is currently at 2.5, the second-highest level. The rest of the country is currently at level 2.

Also on rt.com Seoul tightens Covid-19 restrictions to second-highest level amid spike in infections

The highest level may be implemented when locally transmitted cases surge to between 800 to 1,000 cases or the tally doubles from the previous day. On Monday, after fewer tests, daily new coronavirus cases fell to 718. While the largest number of new cases - 1,030 – was reported on Sunday.

President Moon Jae-in said on Monday that the government will work to support owners of small businesses and self-employed people hit by the coronavirus crisis. He confirmed a plan is in the works to create more than 1 million public-sector jobs.

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