“It has been a week since the toughest level of distancing restrictions were imposed in the metropolitan area, but the number of confirmed cases (of viruses) is rarely decreasing … Preventive measures are needed for now,” said the first Minister Kim Boo-kyum. he said in a meeting with health officials.
From Monday to August 1, current rules in Seoul limiting private gatherings to four people will apply to the rest of the country.
South Korea, once cited as a success story for keeping Covid-19 in check, is battling record infections as the most transmissible Delta variant spreads, triggering a semi-lockdown in the Seoul area.
The toughest level of restrictions in the Seoul metropolitan area, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m., went into effect last week. Meetings of up to four people are allowed during the day.
The country reported 1,454 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, bringing cumulative cases to 177,951 and total deaths to 2,057. Only 30% of the 52 million people in South Korea have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
About 32% of the 1,402 locally acquired cases on Saturday were outside the Seoul metropolitan area, up from 28% the day before.
KOREAN INFECTIONS OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY
On Sunday separately, the Defense Ministry said it will airlift all troops from a ship on anti-piracy patrol in the Middle East after dozens of soldiers on board tested positive for the coronavirus. A replacement crew will direct the ship back home.
Two tankers left for the Middle East hours after the ministry confirmed that 68 soldiers on the ship had tested positive for the virus.
The government said Thursday it would send a medical team to address the outbreak on the ship.
But there are fears that the outbreak could be much worse and require more drastic action. The Yonhap news agency said the Joint Chiefs of Staff had received only 101 PCR test results from the more than 300 service members on board, while the rest may be revealed in the next few hours.
On Saturday, a member of the South Korean International Olympic Committee tested positive after arriving in Tokyo for the Games and was left isolated.