South Korea reports 205 coronavirus cases, above 200 for first time since September

South Korea began fining people who fail to wear masks in public on Nov 13. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea reported 205 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, rising above 200 for the first time since September, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday (Nov 14).

Of the new cases, 166 were domestically transmitted and 39 imported. More than 65 per cent of the locally transmitted cases were from Seoul and Gyeonggi province, a densely populated region near the capital.

South Korea began fining people who fail to wear masks in public on Friday as it reported 191 new coronavirus cases, with daily infections continuing to creep higher.

People caught without masks in public venues, including nightclubs, malls, theme parks and hair salons, face fines of up to 100,000 won (S$121.60), while the operators of those places could pay up to 3 million won in fines.

President Moon Jae-in urged authorities and local governments to raise their awareness of the spread of the coronavirus, reinforcing thorough supervision of safety guidelines such as mandatory mask wearing.

"As we are the point where there are increased travel and meetings, it would be difficult to maintain the current quarantine stage" of the nation's social-distancing scheme, Mr Moon said in a Facebook post.

"If we lower our guard and disregard quarantine measures, our jobs and daily lives would be put at risk, and greater damage and suffering may come," Mr Moon added.

The country is "inching closer" to needing to tighten social distancing, as confirmed cases increase substantially, senior KDCA official Lim Sook-young told a briefing.

Confirmed daily cases have averaged 122.4 this week, jumping from 88.7 last week and 75.3 in the fourth week of October, according to the KDCA.

Four South Korean soccer players and one staff member tested positive for Covid-19, Yonhap reported on Saturday, citing the Korea Football Association, adding that all five do not currently show any symptoms.

The latest daily tally was slightly up from 191 a day before, taking the country's total number of infections to 28,338 with 492 deaths, according to the KDCA.

The government is in final talks with global drugmakers over potential Covid-19 vaccines as it seeks to secure supplies to cover 60 per cent of its population this year.

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