Korean nationals made 50.73 million trips on Lunar New Year’s Day, which fell on Jan. 25 this year, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea based on the subscriber information of a domestic mobile carrier. The figure is 10 million higher than when the country saw the biggest number of people on the move since the outbreak of COVID-19 on May. 2 during the so-called “golden holiday.” This is why health officials are concerned ahead of Chuseok (Oct. 1), the national’s biggest traditional holiday. It is counted as one trip when a mobile carrier subscriber visits other cities, counties, or districts outside of their home and stays there for more than 30 minutes.
New COVID-19 cases in Korea have soared since mid-August, sparking concerns among health officials over a possible nationwide viral epidemic during the Chuseok holiday. The country has experienced a rise of COVID-19 cases following a holiday. The case in point is the holiday that ran from the Buddha’s Birthday (Apr. 30) to Children’s Day (May 5). The number of trips within the country soared to 41.63 million on May 2 from 35.40 million on April 25 following the government’s announcement to ease the month-long social distancing scheme.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, which stood at single-digit numbers between late April and early May, rose to double-digit numbers a week later. The same was the case during the Aug. 15-17 holiday when the government designated Aug. 17 as a temporary national holiday. The number of trips within the country soared on Aug. 15, up 15.1 percent from a week ago to 40.74 million. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun later admitted that the designation of a temporary holiday was not helpful for quarantine efforts as a result.
Through consultation with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the Central Disaster Safety and Countermeasure Headquarters on COVID-19 has decided to sell only window seats for trains during the Chuseok holiday to keep a distance between passengers.