South Korea braces for bed shortages as coronavirus cases near nine-month high


People wait for their bus at a bus stop amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Seoul, South Korea, November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea reported more than 500 new coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day on Friday, a level unseen in nearly nine months, as a third wave of infections spread nationwide, leaving authorities scrambling to provide more hospital beds.

"The situation is extremely serious and acute, as all of the 17 metropolitan cities and provinces and especially all the 25 districts in Seoul are reporting new cases," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a meeting on COVID-19 responses.

The daily tally of 569 came a day after the numbers hit the highest level since March 6, when South Korea was reeling from the first major COVID-19 outbreak outside China.

Of the latest cases, 525 were domestically transmitted and more than 64% of those were from the Seoul metropolitan area, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Authorities said the fresh wave is more difficult to trace and contain than early outbreaks which were concentrated in a specific region or among a certain religious group.

Alarmed by the countrywide spread and increasing number of cases involving younger patients, Chung warned that daily infections could swell to 1,000 and there could be hospital bed shortages unless the contagion was brought under control.

The health ministry said there are sufficient beds available for now but it could face shortfalls if the current spike continues for more than two weeks.

The government reimposed strict social distancing rules on the capital Seoul and surrounding regions this week - restricting dining out, religious services and nightly entertainment. The move came only a month after similar restrictions were eased as a second wave of infections subsided.

South Korea has reported total infections of 32,887, with 516 deaths.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Stephen Coates & Simon Cameron-Moore)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

100% readers found this article insightful

Next In World

Taiwan air force flexes muscles after latest Chinese incursion
Iranian users of Signal messaging service say app blocked
Facebook News in UK to help ‘sustain’ local journalism
Vietnam's Communists tout pandemic, economic successes at Party congress
Did K-Pop fans hijacking the ‘#ImpeachBidenNow’ hashtag violate Twitter’s rules?
Telegram deserves same fate as Parler, suit against Google says
Former paramilitary boss deported to Colombia from United States
How to boost your WiFi performance when everyone’s at home
Biden doesn't believe Trump will be convicted at his impeachment trial - CNN
Apple faces Italian suit over iPhones that wear out too quickly

Stories You'll Enjoy


-->