The third wave of COVID-19 has also begun in South Korea. The new increase in infections came after the first wave centering around Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province in February and March and the second wave in Seoul and the nearby region in August and September. However, the current infection trend is a lot more serious than the last two. Winter, which creates a more favorable environment for the virus’ survival, is just around the corner and the overseas situation, which affects the domestic situation in turn, has gotten worse. Moreover, daily health measures started to show holes as people are less vigilant about social distancing.
As of 12 a.m. Friday, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases is 363, marking the third day with over 300 daily cases. Chain infections are taking place in heavily-affected areas, such as Seoul and the nearby region, Gwangju, Gangwon Province, and South Jeolla Province. Multiple cases are found simultaneously, for example, new patients in Jeju Island and Sejong.
“It is becoming clear in Seoul and the nearby region that local infections are on the rise,” Yoon Tae-ho, the head of the infectious disease control team of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, said at a regular briefing on Friday. “This seems to be the third wave of infections following the previous ones in February to March and August,” he added. This is the first time for a government official to name it the third wave.
Just one day before a national teacher employment exam to be held on Saturday, 32 people from a cram school for the exam in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul tested positive for the virus. This adds more pressure on the efforts to control the virus for the national college entrance exam to be held less than two weeks from now. While the government announced a plan to raise the level of social distancing, the situation poses many challenges. Since the social distancing requirement was eased, new infections are creeping up from social gatherings, etc.
The total number of COVID-19 patients in the country reached 30,000 on Friday, which is 305 days after the first case was found on January 20. As of the same day, the number of COVID-19 deaths surpassed 500. “A sense of anxiety is growing that nowhere in the country is safe anymore,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun made a statement at a Friday meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters. He asked the public to refrain from holiday gatherings and stay at home, except for essential activities.