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South Korea Says It Is Fighting Second Wave of Coronavirus Infections

People walk at Myeongdong shopping district amid social distancing measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, May 28, 2020. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

South Korea confirmed Monday that the country is experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections centering around Seoul after a holiday weekend in early May caused cases to spike.

“In the metropolitan area, we believe that the first wave was from March to April as well as February to March,” said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director. “Then we see that the second wave which was triggered by the May holiday has been going on.”

South Korea was the first country after China to be hit with a large outbreak, peaking at more than 900 cases a day in February. The numbers had tapered off to fewer than 10 positive cases a day by late April, including three consecutive days with zero recorded infections.

“We originally predicted that the second wave would emerge in fall or winter,” Jeong said. “Our forecast turned out to be wrong. As long as people have close contact with others, we believe that infections will continue.”

New clusters of coronavirus infections have cropped up at nightclubs and offices in the country’s capital, with 17 new infections recorded over the past 24 hours. Although the infection numbers are still relatively low, Jeong said the rising numbers cases mean South Korea is battling a second wave.

South Korea managed not to lock down the country even when experiencing its peak infection rate, but the mayor of Seoul warned Monday that cases could soon spike again and the city may have to delay easing its social distancing restrictions.

Since the pandemic began, South Korea has recorded 12,438 coronavirus cases and 280 deaths from the infection.

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