SEOUL, Nov. 20 (UPI) — South Korea is going through a 3rd wave of coronavirus infections within the larger Seoul space, well being authorities stated Friday, as they requested residents to chorus from social gatherings and warned of additional social distancing restrictions.

South Korea recorded 363 new infections on Friday, marking the third straight day instances have exceeded 300. The every day determine is the best since late August.

Greater than 200 of the brand new instances have been positioned within the Seoul metropolitan space, the place roughly half of South Korea’s 52 million folks dwell.

“Within the larger Seoul space we’re seeing a widespread an infection,” stated Yoon Tae-ho, a senior well being ministry official, at a press briefing. “That is the third main wave following earlier ones in February-March and August.”

The Seoul space has averaged 153 instances per day over the previous week, and Yoon stated the federal government might additional tighten social distancing pointers if the common climbs above 200.

Well being authorities raised distancing rules one degree on South Korea’s five-tier system this week, from Stage 1 to Stage 1.5.

Going to the following step, Stage 2, would prohibit any gatherings of greater than 100 folks and pressure high-risk venues corresponding to bars, nightclubs, karaoke rooms and live performance halls to droop operations.

Such a transfer would “trigger nice difficulties and challenges for the general public,” Yoon stated.

“We hope we will comprise the virus earlier than that,” he added.

Yoon additionally cautioned {that a} continued rise in instances might shortly put a pressure on South Korea’s out there intensive care unit beds.

“We could possibly be going through a scarcity [of beds] within the close to future,” he stated. “We’re persevering with to extend and safe a larger variety of ICU hospital beds.”

In a televised handle on Friday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun known as the most recent wave of infections a “disaster” and urged South Koreans, particularly these above 60 years previous, to “decrease pointless outings and conferences” as winter approaches.

“Please chorus from holding year-end gatherings and, aside from for important actions, keep at residence if attainable,” he stated.

The prime minister famous that the most recent outbreak is concentrated amongst youthful folks, with greater than 50% of sufferers confirmed within the final week below 40 years previous, making it tougher to hint infections.

“As a result of nature of younger folks with asymptomatic infections, it’s troublesome to deal with the extent and pace of the unfold,” Chung stated.

Nearly half one million South Korean highschool seniors are gearing as much as take the grueling, once-a-year Faculty Scholastic Aptitude Take a look at on Dec. 3, and well being officers are attempting to comprise the outbreak to be able to enable the examination to run easily.

“Even with the COVID-19 scenario, the federal government will do our greatest to permit the check to be taken pretty in a protected setting,” he stated.

Friday’s new infections noticed South Korea’s whole caseload attain 30,017. Three deaths have been additionally reported, bringing the general toll to 501.