COVID-19

COVID-19 outbreak causes bars to shut for another month in South Korea just a week after reopening

South Korea has had to shut over 2000 bars in the capital city Seoul after 17 new COVID-19 cases were linked to one 29-year old man.

South Korea has been widely praised and is almost an international model given their handling of the pandemic. With an early lockdown and a widespread testing regime, the country suffered over 10,000 cases with just 256 deaths. Having seemingly beaten the pandemic, the country slowly but surely started to re-open late last month, with social distancing guidelines for such venues gently relaxed as recently as last week. The latest outbreak involves clubs in the Itaewon district, and the government has ordered all those who visted between 29th April and 6th May – some 1,500 people according to entry lists – to report for screening tests in order to determine how far the outbreak may have spread, with contact tracing being another key factor in South Korea’s control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All nightclubs and hostess bars have now been ordered to close for a month, having previously re-opened with strict measures such as temperature checks, and all workers wearing masks. While not compulsory for customers, most voluntarily wore masks as is common in Korea anyway, however the man at the centre of this outbreak reportedly did not. Schools in South Korea were due to re-open next week, but it is unclear whether this will now be postponed, with football matches having already resumed, albeit behind closed-doors.

The latest COVID-19 outbreak is still in it’s earliest phase, with 18 cases (one of which was unrelated to the club-goer) reported in the country in the 24 hours to midnight on Friday 8th May. Cases are still sporadically appearing in the country regardless of this latest current outbreak, but it now remains to be seen whether South Korea jumped the gun too soon when it came to relaxing social-distancing measures.

Image Credit: Diego Mariottini / Getty Images