All Seoul bars ordered to shut after spike in coronavirus cases linked to nightclubs
4 hr 16 min ago
From Yoonjung Seo in Seoul, South Korea
A notice of guidelines for entertainment facilities is posted at the entrance of a nightclub in Seoul, South Korea, on May 8. Ryu Hyung-seok/Yonhap via AP
All bars in Seoul have been ordered to close until further notice after a spike in coronavirus cases linked to nightclubs in the South Korean capital.
At a briefing Saturday, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said that clubs and bars would all need to shut, effective immediately.
A spike in cases: The order follows a surge in cases connected with nightclubs in Itaewon, a popular nightlife district in Seoul.
On Thursday, a 29-year-old man from the city of Yongin -- on the outskirts of Seoul -- tested positive for the virus. The person visited several clubs in Itaewon on the night of May 1 and the early hours of May 2, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
Since then, 40 others believed to be connected to the case have tested positive. Of those, 27 are from Seoul.
Tracking partygoers: South Korea has not introduced a nationwide lockdown, but has brought in additional measures to control the coronavirus outbreak. At nightclubs, for instance, people must provide their full name and phone number before entry.
According to Park, 1,946 names were listed on the registry books of the three clubs the 29-year-old visited. Only 647 of those people have been identified.
More cases possible: Kwon Joon-wook, deputy director of the KCDC, also said there may have been more than one source of infection behind the nightclub outbreak. Some of the people who have been confirmed positive visited clubs on different nights from the 29-year-old.
“We’ve put in much efforts and made a lot of sacrifices," Park added Saturday. "Are we just to let this all go to waste because of few people’s carelessness?”
A setback in South Korea: Before the nightclub-related spike, new coronavirus cases had been trending down in the country. On Tuesday, South Korea reported its lowest number of new cases for more than two months.
According to Johns Hopkins University, South Korea has reported more than 10,800 coronavirus cases and 256 deaths. The vast majority of South Korea's cases have recovered, the KCDC said earlier this week.