Social distancing level 2 was imposed on the Seoul Metropolitan area, where 90% of confirmed cases occurred Tuesday. Twelve high-risk facilities including Internet cafes, karaokes and buffets were asked to shut down, dealing a great blow to the self-employed. A ban on indoor gatherings of more than 50 people have caused couples to pay for the reception of their wedding, cancel or delay their wedding ceremonies. The government must come up with compensation measures for the losses incurred based on the understanding that the measures are coercive ones to counter infectious diseases and exert administrative powers to settle disputes between stakeholders.
If the explosive growth of confirmed cases do not settle by this weekend, stage 3 of social distancing disciplines may apply nationwide, which mean that everyday activities such as gathering of more than 10 people are prohibited. The number of daily average confirmed cases for the last two weeks has exceeded 100, already exceeding the threshold applied for stage 3.
However, it is questionable whether the government is exerting genuine efforts to combine the public’s efforts to overcome this crisis. A large proportion of Sarang Jeil Church congregation cannot be reached and there are difficulties in compiling the list of the participants of the rally that was held over the weekend. There are even rumors that the authorities announce the participants of the rally as positive. The government should not blame the second wave on the church and rallies, but encourage those involved to get tested without fear of getting stigmatized. It should also sincerely engage with the medical community, which has announced a collective strike in protest against the government’s plan to increase admission quotas for medical schools.
The recent rapid growth of COVID-19 patients come from collective contagion during the summer vacation period as well as social gatherings and church services in the Seoul metropolitan area. The number of accumulated confirmed cases exceed 1,000 since August 15 alone. If we do not appease the growth by this month, we may even face a severe shortage of hospital beds. We must be united as we stay home, refraining from going outside unless absolutely necessary, such as commuting, buying necessities or visiting a doctor, comply with personal hygiene guidelines in order to prevent a full lockdown of the nation.