Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum on Friday asked the public to minimize traveling or meeting in groups during the upcoming three-day weekend.
“If we do not stop now, we will not be able to stop COVID-19,” he said in a nationally televised address asking people to do their part alongside the country’s ongoing disease control efforts.
“Despite the strong quarantine measures, the number of newly confirmed cases per day has recently stayed at around 2,000. It is the highest figure since the country’s first case. Some experts forecast that it is not at the peak yet.”
The country reported 1,990 new COVID-19 infections from Thursday, marking the third day in a row for the daily tally to hover around 2,000.
Despite rolling out the toughest social distancing measures, the country has struggled to curb the spread of the virus that has been compounded by the highly contagious delta variant, which led to many asymptomatic cases.
The flare-up also coincided with the country’s summer holiday season and as many hope to take advantage of the long weekend to travel across the country. The government designated Monday as a substitute holiday as Aug. 15 Liberation Day, which marks the end of Japanese occupation in 1945, falls on Sunday.
For people coming back from their vacation, the prime minister urged them to quickly get tested for the coronavirus before they return to their workplace. The government has set up temporary testing centers at four major highway service areas, so people on their way back home can stop by to get tested.
Kim also warned against participating in illegal rallies that are to take place over the weekend.
“We vividly remember how much pain followed after illegal rallies on Liberation Day last year brought the second wave of the virus. There is no exception for quarantine. No freedom or rights can come before the safety and life of people,” he said.
The prime minister said authorities will take stern action on those who violate distancing measures, adding that they could be excluded from the government’s support programs if they cause the virus to spread further.
By Kan Hyeong-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org