SEOUL, Nov. 20 (UPI) — South Korea is going through a 3rd wave of coronavirus infections within the higher Seoul space, well being authorities mentioned 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 circumstances have exceeded 300. The every day determine is the best since late August.

Greater than 200 of the brand new circumstances had been situated within the Seoul metropolitan space, the place roughly half of South Korea’s 52 million individuals dwell.

“Within the higher Seoul space we’re seeing a widespread an infection,” mentioned 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 circumstances per day over the previous week, and Yoon mentioned 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 individuals and power 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 mentioned.

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

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

“We may very well be going through a scarcity [of beds] within the close to future,” he mentioned. “We’re persevering with to extend and safe a higher variety of ICU hospital beds.”

In a televised deal with on Friday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun known as the newest wave of infections a “disaster” and urged South Koreans, particularly these above 60 years outdated, to “reduce pointless outings and conferences” as winter approaches.

“Please chorus from holding year-end gatherings and, apart from for important actions, keep at residence if doable,” he mentioned.

The prime minister famous that the newest outbreak is concentrated amongst youthful individuals, with greater than 50% of sufferers confirmed within the final week beneath 40 years outdated, making it tougher to hint infections.

“Because of the nature of younger individuals with asymptomatic infections, it’s troublesome to deal with the extent and pace of the unfold,” Chung mentioned.

Virtually half 1,000,000 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 so as to permit the examination to run easily.

“Even with the COVID-19 scenario, the federal government will do our greatest to permit the take a look at to be taken pretty in a protected atmosphere,” he mentioned.

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