South Korea reimposes restrictions as more COVID-19 cases emerge

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Seoul:  South Korea has reported 299 new cases of the coronavirus as officials placed limits on dining at restaurants and closed fitness centres and after-school academies in the greater capital area to slow the spread of the virus.

The 17th consecutive day of triple-digit increases brought the national caseload to 19,699, including 323 deaths.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said 209 of the new cases came from capital Seoul, nearby Gyeonggi province and Incheon, a region that had been at the centre of a viral resurgence this month.

Thirty cases were also reported in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicentre of the previous major outbreak in late February and March.

Churches have emerged as a major source of infections in the Seoul region and elsewhere, with many of them failing to properly enforce masks and allowing worshippers to sing and eat together. Clusters have also popped up from restaurants, schools, nursing homes and apartment buildings.

Health authorities have ordered churches and nightspots to close and shifted more schools back to remote learning nationwide as infections spiked.

For eight days starting Sunday, restaurants in the Seoul area are allowed to provide only deliveries and takeouts after 9 p.m. Franchised coffee shops like Starbucks will sell only takeout drinks and food.

(AP)

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