SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has made its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in 70 days as the government began to impose fines on people who fail to wear masks in public.
191 new cases represented above 100 for the sixth consecutive day on Friday and were the highest daily increase since September 4, when authorities reported 198 infections.
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More than 120 cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, where coronovirus has spread to hospitals, nursing homes, churches, schools, restaurants, and offices.
The continued proliferation has alarmed government officials, who have relaxed social remedial measures to reduce the impact of the epidemic on the economy.
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However, it has allowed the reopening of high-risk venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars, with Prime Minister Chung Si-kyun saying proliferation may force the government to seriously consider tightening social disturbances again .
“We are in a precarious position,” he said, pleading for vigilance and for cancellations of planned rallies for labor unions and civic groups.
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South Korea has so far faced an outbreak without major lockdowns, relying on an aggressive testing and quarantine program and relatively widespread use of masks.
On Friday, authorities imposed a fine of up to 100,000 ($ 90) for those who failed to wear masks in public transport and other places, including hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, nightclubs, karaoke bars, religious and sports facilities.
In Seoul, city employees were stationed at metro stations and bus stops to monitor commuters.
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