President Moon Jae-in made the comments in a speech on Sunday (local time) after South Korea reported 34 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily number in a month, following a small outbreak emerged around a slew of nightclubs that a confirmed patient had visited.
Of the new cases, 26 were domestically transmitted infections and eight were imported cases, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Sunday’s total was the highest since April 9. After battling the first major epidemic outside China, South Korea posted zero or very few domestic cases over the past 10 days, with the daily tally hovering around 10 or less in recent weeks.
The resurgence followed a small but growing coronavirus outbreak centred in a handful of Seoul nightclubs, which a man in his late 20s had visited before testing positive for the virus.
At least 15 people were traced to that man as of Friday, and 14 of the 26 cases were reported from Seoul on Sunday, though the KCDC did not specify how many were linked.
Seoul city officials say they have a list of about 1500 people who have gone to the clubs, and authorities have asked anyone who was there last weekend to self-isolate for 14 days and be tested.
South Korea’s caseload had been waning for weeks, prompting authorities to relax their social distancing rules.
“The infection cluster which recently occurred in entertainment facilities has raised awareness that, even during the stabilisation phase, similar situations can arise again any time, anywhere in an enclosed, crowded space,” Mr Moon said.
He added: “We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention”. But he also said “there’s no reason to stand still out of fear”.
Mr Moon said South Korea has “the right quarantine and medical systems combined with experience to respond quickly to any unexpected infection clusters that might occur”.
Figures released on Sunday by the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention increased national totals to 10,874 with 256 deaths.
The agency said 9610 people have recovered and 10,128 others were undergoing tests to determine whether they have contracted the virus.
Coronavirus: what you need to know
What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?
The symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are very similar, as they both can cause fever and respiratory issues.
Both infections are also transmitted the same way, via coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus.
The speed of transmission and the severity of the infection are the key differences between COVID-19 and the flu.
The time from infection to the appearance of symptoms is typically shorter with the flu. However, there are higher proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections.
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