Image: Yonhap News
The government has confirmed at least 119 coronavirus cases linked to a new cluster in the Itaewon area in Seoul's Yongsan District.
The Central Disaster Management Headquarters said Wednesday that 76 of them are bar and club-goers while the remaining 43 are their families, acquaintances and colleagues and other people they might have come into contact with.
Ron Chang from the TBS eFM News Desk joins us in the studio once again.
Ron, this latest cluster has put the public as well as the government on edge.
How extensive is this latest cluster infection?
It truly is wide-ranging and very worrying to say the least.
This new cluster infection from Itaewon bars and clubs has affected a total of 69 Seoul residents as well as those in neighboring Gyeonggi and Incheon.
Infections are also being reported in Busan, North Jeolla, South Gyeongsang and Jeju Island.
Now, the reason why there are concerns of a second wave of COVID-19 is that, like you mentioned, 43 of the confirmed cases tied to Itaewon are known to be secondary or tertiary infections.
Bar and club-goers are spreading the virus at home, work and other people that they come into contact with.
An example is a teacher from an academy in Incheon infecting middle school students and even their parents.
Ron, health authorities are urging those that were in the Itaewon area between the end of April and the first few days of May to get tested for the virus regardless of whether they were at the bars and clubs or if they show any symptoms.
That message is being echoed again and again.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that it has expanded anonymous testing nationwide in an effort to protect the identities of those that went to the bars and clubs.
There are people, those that were in the club area of Itaewon as well as those that think they might've come into contact with the confirmed cases that have voluntarily come forward to get tested.
Some 20,000 people nationwide are said to have gotten tested so far.
But the problem is Itaewon visitors that have been unreachable.
This prompted Seoul city to get the contact information of some 19,000 people that were in the area using cell tower data, 11 percent of which were found to be foreign nationals.
Ron, the latest cluster infection came amid a slowdown in cases in South Korea.
This prompted the government to transition into so-called everyday life distancing, a relaxed version of its social distancing drive.
That's right. This eased distancing campaign has been in effect for about a week now, meaning this latest cluster was reported immediately after it took effect.
Kim Gang-lip, deputy head of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, said Wednesday that the government will wait and see how the situation pans out before deciding to potentially go back to the stringent guidelines that were in place for much of the outbreak in South Korea.
Meanwhile, infections are being reported from nightlife establishments in other districts, causing even more concern.
They include a bar in the Seodaemun District and a bar near Hongik University.
Now, these infections are said to have no relation to the Itaewon cluster.
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