The fourth wave of COVID-19 in South Korea is showing no signs of abating. The country reported 1,556 new cases of COVID-19 at 12:00 a.m. on Monday, recording the highest ever Sunday counts. Starting with 1,212 on July 7, the country’s daily COVID-19 tally is exceeding the 1,000 mark for 41 straight days.
The problem is this trend is likely to continue for the time being. According to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Monday, the infection reproduction rate, which refers to the transmission rate of one infected person, was 1.1 in the last week (Aug.8-14), higher than the previous week (0.99). The rate is higher (1.16) in non-capital areas than the Seoul metropolitan area (1.07). Considering that more people went out during the summer holiday (late July- early August) season and the National Liberation Day holiday from Aug. 14-16, the number of COVID-19 cases could jump later this week.
According to the Korea Expressway Corporation (KEC), the national highway traffic volume during the two days from Aug. 14 to 15 was about 9.2 million units, exceeding the weekend average of 8.72 million during the past four weeks. “We expected the traffic volume to increase to some extent (8.88 million) during the holiday, but the actual traffic volume was higher than expected,” a KEC official said. The Jeju Tourism Association said a total of 116,243 people visited Jeju Island from Aug. 13 to 15, up 8,300 from the same period of the previous week.
The second wave of COVID-19 was also caused by the Liberation Day holiday last year. The average daily COVID-19 cases in the week before the holiday (Aug. 8-14) were 51, but the number increased six-fold to an average of 307 in the week after the holiday (Aug. 18-24). The second wave reached its peak on Aug. 27 with 441 new cases.
At a briefing, Kwon Joon-wook of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said that people’s awareness on COVID-19 prevention might have increased after the country’s new COVID-19 cases topped 2,000 last week, adding they will make an accurate judgment of the country’s COVID-19 trend based on the situation on Wednesday and Thursday.