South Korea has reported 23 new cases of the coronavirus, mostly from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where authorities have shut down thousands of nightclubs, bars and karaoke rooms in a desperate attempt to stem transmissions.
On Saturday, the figures showed by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that brought national totals to 11,165 cases and 266 deaths.
Thirteen of the new cases came from Gyeonggi province surrounding capital Seoul, which on Saturday issued an administrative order to ban gatherings at an additional 2,629 bars and karaoke rooms, bringing its number of shut-down entertainment venues to 8,363.
Earlier in the month, President Moon Jae-in urged the public to remain vigilant as the capital has ordered the closure of all clubs and bars after a burst of new cases sparked fears of a second coronavirus wave.
With around 7,200 people estimated to have visited the five establishments, health authorities have warned of a further spike in infections and have asked those who went to any of the venues to get tested.
The country was reporting around 500 new cases a day in early March before using aggressive tracing and testing to stabilize its outbreak.
At least 1,138 infections have been linked to international arrivals, but such cases have declined after the country strengthened border controls in April, enforcing two-week quarantines on all passengers coming from abroad.
President Moon the new cluster had “raised awareness that even during the stabilisation phase, similar situations can arise again anytime”.
South Korea, one of the countries that has so far managed to control the coronavirus situation well without resorting to lockdowns, went several days without detection of local transmissions of the COVID-19 virus last week before this new outbreak was detected.
Meanwhile, globally, there have been over 52 lakh confirmed cases of COVID-19. At least 3.38 lakh people have died so far. The United States, Russia, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Spain are the most-affected countries.