South Korea records a jump in new COVID-19 cases, restores control

South Korea on Wednesday announced a spike in new infections and considered reimposing social distancing restrictions,  news wires reported. The Asian country was widely praised for its strategy of tracing, testing and treating the coronavirus pandemic. But it reported  on Wednesday 40 newly confirmed cases, the biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days while millions of children returned to school.

All but four of the new cases were in the densely populated Seoul region, where officials are scrambling to stop transmissions linked to nightclubs, karaoke rooms and a massive e-commerce warehouse. All were reopened last month when social distancing measures were relaxed.

The country’s top infectious disease expert said South Korea may need to reimpose social distancing restrictions because it’s becoming increasingly difficult for health workers to track the spread of COVID-19 amid warmer weather and eased attitudes on distancing. “We will do our best to trace contacts and implement preventive measures, but there’s a limit to such efforts,” said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Young people have a very broad range of activity, so at the point of diagnosis, there’s already a lot of exposure ... the number of people or locations we have to trace are increasing geometrically,” he added.

Seoul and nearby cities had restored some control in recent weeks by reclosing thousands of bars, karaoke rooms and other entertainment venues to slow the spread of the virus.

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