After holiday, South Korea posts a record for virus cases
By Jin Yu Young
South Korea reported its highest number of new coronavirus infections for a single day Friday, soon after a long holiday weekend.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 2,434 new infections, surpassing the previous record of 2,221 infections set last month.
At a briefing Friday, health officials said the spike was partly because of the Chuseok holiday, when many people traveled across the country and spent time with friends and family. The government is encouraging people to get tested following the holiday.
Chuseok is roughly equivalent to Thanksgiving in the United States, and was observed from Monday through Wednesday. The Korea Transport Institute estimated that over 32 million people would travel over the holiday.
Over the past week the nation was averaging about 1,500 new cases a day, according to statistics collected by Our World in Data. Most cases are concentrated in the capital, Seoul, and surrounding areas, but officials were concerned that the holiday would spread the virus more widely.
Testing and quarantining were the main tools South Korea used to curb the spread of the disease, and the country was able to keep outbreaks at bay in the early part of the pandemic.
South Korea’s vaccination program got off to a slow start, but the country has now vaccinated 43% of its population. It hopes to have 70% of its population inoculated by October.
“There is no problem at all with the amount of vaccines secured for this year,” President Moon Jae-in said Friday, according to Reuters. “The vaccine shipment got off to a slower start than other countries, which delayed the vaccination program, but I believe by next month, we will catch up and be a leading country by inoculation rate.”
A few weeks ago, the government relaxed several restrictions on in-person meetings. For Chuseok, family gatherings of up to eight people were permitted if at least four people were fully vaccinated.