South Korea has confirmed dozens of new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours as it continues to struggle with an increase in new cases, but world health officials dispute the claim of a “second wave”.
As the world crossed 10 million cases of COVID-19, South Korea has seen spikes in recent weeks. The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 62 new cases, 22 of which it claims were foreign.
Most domestic cases were detected in Seoul, the densely populated capital city. New cases throughout the month have been linked to religious gatherings, nightclubs, and warehouse workers.
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In early May, Korea confirmed an initial outbreak of 35 new cases following the decision to lift restrictions on social distancing.
The new cases continued to appear in groups, with the largest spikes occurring in Bucheon, just west of Seoul, last week when a warehouse managed by e-commerce leader Coupang recorded 138 new cases, and Itaewon, a nightlife area. from Seoul, registering around 277 new cases.
The continued development of new groups led KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong to declare last week that the nation was experiencing a “second wave” of infections. The country has registered a total of 12,715 cases, with around 280 deaths.
“In the metropolitan area, we believe that the first wave was from March to April and from February to March,” Jeong said. “So we see that the second wave, which was triggered by the May holidays, has been occurring.”
“We originally predicted that the second wave would emerge in the fall or winter. Our prognosis turned out to be incorrect. As long as people have close contact with others, we believe the infections will continue.”
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Despite Korea’s pronouncement, the World Health Organization questioned the claim. Epidemiologist and technical leader Maria Van Kerkhove instead speculated that the success nations have achieved in suppressing transmission has made any increase in cases seem more significant.
“Any opportunity the virus has to take advantage of, it will,” he said, urging countries to “put all they can” into isolating such cases to prevent renewed community transmission.
Areas such as Italy, once considered the pandemic hot spot in Europe, have continued to see a downward trend in numbers. For the first time since the first days of the outbreak, fewer than 100 infected patients were occupying ICU beds across the country.
As a sign that the pandemic is receding and people feel safe, interregional travel resumed on June 3 and Italy is preparing to reopen its borders.
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Meanwhile, the British government is expected to remove a 14-day quarantine requirement that forced people to isolate themselves upon returning home from abroad.
Not all countries have managed to keep the numbers down: South America has seen several countries spiral out of control, and Brazil is now the second most affected country in the world after the United States.
On June 22, Brazil became the second country to experience 50,000 deaths. President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently opposed measures to combat the spread of the pandemic, including blockades, in order to focus on maintaining the economy.
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The move has been incredibly divisive, with two health ministers leaving their posts as deaths and infections increased.