People stand in line to take coronavirus tests at a temporary screening center in front of Seoul Station in central Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
The government's ongoing random testing has identified nearly 70 cases of COVID-19 in the greater Seoul area in a span of two days this week, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Thursday, calling on citizens to voluntarily visit testing centers to stem the spread of the disease.
In a bid to preemptively find "hidden infected people" through random testing, the government installed temporary coronavirus testing facilities at about 150 locations in the capital area, including Seoul Station, on Monday. Those random testing centers are to operate for three weeks.
Chung, presiding over a daily government meeting on the coronavirus, said over 37,000 people have been tested at the temporary screening centers, and 68 of them were confirmed to be infected in the first two days.
"The number (of confirmed cases) seems to be sufficient enough to dispel controversy about the effectiveness of the first random preemptive testing," Chung said.
"If these people did not respond to the preemptive testing, the coronavirus would still be spreading quietly to someone," the prime minister said, asking all capital area citizens to actively participate in the random testing.
Chung then expressed regret that popular tourist destinations are being increasingly crowded by visitors, particularly young ones.
"It is said that there are no vacancies in Gangwon Province and on Jeju Island due to an increase in small-scale gatherings of young people, in particular," Chung said, adding such behavior runs counter to the ongoing nationwide fight against the pandemic.
He urged the public to cancel all year-end meetings and events for the safety of family, friends and colleagues and avoid contact with other people.
Chung's remarks came amid growing calls for the government to raise the nation's social distancing measures to the highest Level 3 in the five-tier system. The country added 1,014 more COVID-19 cases Thursday. (Yonhap)