South Korea’s president urges calm amid concerns over new coronavirus surge

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President of South Korea
President Moon Jae-in

South Korea’s president is urging citizens not to let their guard down, but said there is no reason to panic amid fears of a new surge in the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

President Moon Jae-in made the comments in a speech on Sunday as his health authorities detected a slew of new cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul’s Itaewon district in recent days.

Officials on Friday said they detected at least 15 infections linked to a 29-year-old man who had visited three Itaewon clubs before testing positive on Wednesday.

Earlier, South Korea’s caseload had been waning for weeks, prompting authorities to relax their social distancing rules.

“The infection cluster which recently occurred in entertainment facilities has raised awareness that, even during the stabilisation phase, similar situations can arise again anytime, anywhere in an enclosed, crowded space,” President Moon Jae-in said.

He added: “We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention.” But he also said “there’s no reason to stand still out of fear”.

Mr Moon said South Korea has “the right quarantine and medical systems combined with experience to respond quickly to any unexpected infection clusters that might occur”.

Figures released on Sunday by the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention increased national totals to 10,874 with 256 deaths.

The agency said 9,610 people have recovered and 10,128 others were undergoing tests to determine whether they have contracted the virus.

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