South enforces toughest curbs vs coronavirus in Seoul

Hyonhee Shin, Reuters

Posted at Jul 12 2021 06:46 PM

South enforces toughest curbs vs coronavirus in Seoul 1
A shopkeeper waits for customers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Seoul, South Korea, July 9, 2021. Heo Ran, Reuters/file

SEOUL - South Korea recorded 1,100 new coronavirus cases for July 11, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Monday, as the country's toughest anti-COVID curbs take effect in Seoul in an attempt to quell its worst-ever outbreak.

The number was the highest ever recorded on a Sunday, KDCA data showed, though below three consecutive days of peaks leading up to 1,378 on Friday.

Starting on Monday, the government has imposed the strictest level of social distancing in Seoul and neighbouring areas for the first time, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m.

The new wave of infections has so far brought fewer serious cases and deaths than earlier rounds, with many older and more vulnerable South Koreans now vaccinated against the virus. The latest outbreak brings South Korea's total COVID-19 cases to date to 169,146, with 2,044 deaths, well below numbers seen in many other industrialised countries.

But health authorities have expressed concerns over the rising number of young patients who have not yet received vaccine shots, and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in recent outbreaks.

KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said a new study estimated that the number of confirmed daily cases would only start to decline after reaching about 2,300 by mid-August.

"If the spread of the infection is strongly controlled, the number of daily cases is estimated to remain at current levels for the next two weeks and then begin to decrease to about 600 cases by the end of August," Jeong told a briefing on Monday.