South Korea had 27 additional COVID-19 patients on Friday with 10,450 confirmed cases in total. It took 50 days for the country to drive down the daily number of new cases to less than 30 since February 20. Daegu recorded zero case for the first time in 52 days since the patient number 31 was confirmed.
Daily new cases have been kept around 50 this week, which is the third week of the nation’s strong social distancing. It is thanks to the first round of social distancing started at the end of March. And the result of current quarantine will be out in one or two weeks. In the meanwhile, complacency in the current state could lead to the second explosion any time.
With highest mass infection risk due to a large transient population, the Seoul metropolitan area has been seeing an increasing number of patients except the past two days. On Thursday, 15 patients — more than half of new cases — were confirmed in the capital area. More than 50,000 people under two-week self-quarantine are also a detonator, which could reignite the pandemic at any time. Moreover, COVID-19 is still largely unknown as 91 patients who fully recovered from the virus have tested positive again.
Asian countries, which are highlighted for their quick quarantine measures, are now pulling up the reigns again. By strengthening entry restrictions and suspending adult entertainment businesses for an indefinite period, those countries are working on preventing an explosive increase in the number of patients as students who were studying in the U.S. and Europe began to return home.
Singapore saw a sudden increase in the number of patients to 1,910 after a mass infection at an accommodation of foreign workers, and half of the patients were confirmed this month. Due to mass infection cases for the past two weeks, Hong Kong and Taiwan, that used to record less than 10 patients every day, also had an upsurge in the number of patients to 973 and 380, respectively. European countries reviewed to alleviate their blockade for the Easter holidays, but decided to continue their “Stay at Home” measures as Italy started to record more patients. As long as the virus keeps spreading across the world, no country can be at ease just because they succeeded in the initial quarantine.
For South Korea, Easter weekend and election campaigns lie just ahead and springtime picnickers may want to go out to see spring flowers. The current intensive care would not be available if the number of patients surges again. More than 3,000 patients are currently under treatment, and the fatality rate has steadily increased to 1.99 percent. Carelessness could spark a new fire of infection. It is not time to let up our vigilance. The fire should be put out through a stronger level of social distancing.