|People wearing face masks walk past the display of the Seoul logo at a park in Seoul, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. AP|
The number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea reached nearly 400 on Wednesday on account of sporadic cluster infections across the country, prompting health authorities to consider imposing tougher antivirus curbs nationwide.
The country added 382 more COVID-19 cases, including 363 local infections, raising the total caseload to 31,745, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The daily caseload has stayed in the triple digits since Nov. 8, with the figure over 300 from Wednesday to Sunday before dropping to 271 on Monday due to less testing on the weekend. However, it bounced back to 349 cases Tuesday.
Health authorities called for stronger action before a nationwide college exam on Dec. 3 as they warned a third wave of the pandemic is under way due to cluster infections from private gatherings, public facilities, hospitals and the military.
To curb the recent surge of the novel coronavirus, the authorities raised the social distancing level by one notch to Level 2 in the Seoul metropolitan area, where the majority of virus cases are identified, for two weeks starting Tuesday.
Other municipalities also have been enforcing tougher distancing rules depending on their virus situation.
But as the country's virus infections show no signs of letup, health authorities said they could review an option of imposing Level 2 distancing rules nationwide.
Level 2 curbs can be enforced if the country's daily number of local infections exceeds 300 for a week.
Under Level 2, the third highest in the country's five-tier virus alert system, nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities must suspend their business, while wedding and funeral halls should restrict visitor numbers to a maximum of 100.
Cafes can offer only takeout and delivery services, and restaurants are banned from serving food on their premises after 9 p.m.
The country reported three additional deaths from COVID-19, raising the total to 513.
The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 26,825, up 103 from the previous day. (Yonhap)