South Korea’s Moon warns of COVID-19 second wave as cases rebound

South Korean nurses wearing protective gear arrive for their shift to care for patients infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus at Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital in Daegu. (File/Jung Yeon-je/AFP)
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Updated 10 May 2020

South Korea’s Moon warns of COVID-19 second wave as cases rebound

  • The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 34 new infections, the highest since April 9
  • The daily tally of new infections had hovered around 10 or less in recent weeks, with no or very few domestic cases over the past 10 days

SEOUL: South Korea warned of a second wave of the new coronavirus on Sunday as infections rebounded to a one-month high, just as the authorities were starting to ease some pandemic restrictions.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” President Moon Jae-in told the nation, saying a new cluster shows the virus can spread widely at any time, and warning of a second wave late this year.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 34 new infections, the highest since April 9, after a small outbreak emerged around a slew of nightclubs, prompting the authorities to temporary close all nightly entertainment facilities around the capital.
The death toll remained at 256.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said the government will decide on whether it will reopen schools in stages starting from May 13 as planned after examining the impact of the nightclub cases for two to three days.
Battling the first major coronavirus outbreak outside China, South Korea brought infections of the virus, and the disease COVID-19 that it causes, down drastically through widespread testing, aggressive contact tracing and tracking apps. The response has helped Asia’s fourth-largest economy come to grips with the pandemic without extensive the lockdowns seen elsewhere.
The daily tally of new infections had hovered around 10 or less in recent weeks, with no or very few domestic cases over the past 10 days.
The fresh outbreak comes just as the government was easing some social distancing restrictions and moving to fully reopen schools and businesses, in a transition from intensive social distancing to “distancing in daily life.”
“We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention,” Moon said in a televised speech marking the third anniversary of his inauguration. “We are in a prolonged war. I ask everyone to comply with safety precautions and rules until the situation is over even after resuming daily lives.”
He said the KCDC will get greater power as part of the long-term fight and be renamed the Disease Control and Prevention Administration to reflect its enhanced position, while the authorities beef up local expertise.
The resurgence is driven by an outbreak centered around a handful of Seoul nightclubs, which a man in his late 20s had visited before testing positive last week.
At least 24 out of the 26 new domestically transmitted infections were traced to that man, bringing the infections related to the case to 54, the KCDC said.
The KCDC said officials are tracking down about 1,900 people who have gone to the clubs, which could be increased to 7,000, asking anyone who was there last week to self-isolate for 14 days and be tested.
“This case is once again showing a rapid spread of the virus as well as high infectiousness,” KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong told a briefing. “We’re in a battle against time to head off additional transmissions in the local communities.”


Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

Updated 12 August 2020

Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

  • The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers
  • An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but local youths subsequently mobilized for an attack on the army position

JUBA: Clashes between soldiers and civilians during a disarmament exercise in the central South Sudanese town of Tonj have left 127 dead, the army spokesman said Wednesday.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP that the fighting erupted on Saturday as security forces carried out an operation to disarm civilians in the area which has seen deadly inter-communal clashes.
More than six years after a civil war broke out in the country, and in the absence of a functioning government, many communities are flush with weapons, which they keep for protection or defense against cattle raids.
The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers. An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but according to Koang the youths mobilized others for an attack on the army position.
“On the latest, the number of those killed, I can confirm to you that it rose to 127,” Koang said, adding that 45 of those killed were security forces and 82 were youths from the area.
A further 32 soldiers were injured.
Koang said two military officers involved in “triggering the clashes” had been arrested, and that the situation in Tonj had calmed down.
South Sudan is emerging from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced, and disarmament is a major stumbling block.
Experts have warned against operations that coerce people to lay down their guns without proper planning, as some communities could find themselves unable to protect themselves after their weapons are removed.
“The clashes should be an opportunity to rethink the approach to disarmament. What is the point of removing guns without addressing what drives folks to arms themselves?” Geoffrey Duke, head of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, said on Twitter.
“We can take guns away this week & they buy a new one next week (as) long as they still see the need to have (one).”