S.Korea extends tighter social-distancing rules for another week


South Korea reported 371 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, raising the overall caseload to 19,077.

According to Yonhap news agency, the regulations refer to meetings of more than ten persons and activities in cafeterias, nightclubs, cybercafés, movie theaters and wedding halls, among other areas.

"Thus, we have issued an order to ban gatherings of 10 or more people at guesthouses in the region", Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong said in a statement.

Thursday's number of new cases is "the latest in a series of near-six-month highs" for South Korea after it passed several weeks with its number of daily new cases "generally in the 30s and 40s", Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

However, since the country's virus situation showed no signs of letup, the government chose to extend the Level 2 distancing for one more week Friday, with tighter virus measures to take place from Sunday to September 6 in the greater Seoul area.

The government has ordered doctors to return to work in Seoul and surrounding areas where there are many cases. Restaurants, snack bars and bakeries are not allowed to offer on-site dining between the hours of 9pm and 5am. It was expanded to the whole country a week later.

Thousands of teaching hospital doctors, trainee doctors and private practice physicians began a three-day strike on Wednesday to express solidarity with the intern and resident doctors.

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On Wednesday, Redfield seemed to do an about-turn, agreeing with the new recommendations . He added: "No new science, data, or research have been offered to justify such a change".

The total recovery rate was 76.27 percent.

The South Korean government says about 3,500 medical institutions were closed on Wednesday, the first day of the strike.

"If our demands are not met, we will stage a general strike starting on the day indefinitely", Choi Dae-zip said.

But the Korea Medical Association said on Friday it plans to organise a nationwide strike starting September 7, for an indefinite period, unless the government drops its reforms.

The intern and resident doctors form the backbone of healthcare services in emergency rooms and intensive care units, and major hospitals have reported delays and disruptions since the walkout.

"I understand the doctors, too, but now is not the time", Lim Soon-ja, 71, a thyroid cancer patient, told Reuters outside Seoul National University Hospital.