South Korea is considering placing the country back under the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions after daily case numbers soared back above 1,000 this week.
Wednesday’s 1,212 new cases was South Korea’s second highest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and coincided with a recent easing of restrictions due the rollout of vaccines.
However, with the highly contagious Delta variant leading to higher transmission rates, particularly in the capital city of Seoul, there is now talk that restrictions could be tightened again within days – another huge blow to South Korea’s embattled casino industry.
According to a report by Reuters, the growing outbreak of COVID-19 – South Korea’s fourth such wave – has been attributed to complacency among younger people with the national vaccination rate still sitting at just 10%. The majority of those are aged over 60.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum on Wednesday encouraged citizens to get vaccinated “to protect not just yourself, but everyone in your family, friends, school and the country.
“If the situation is not under control after monitoring for two to three days, it might leave us with no choice but to impose the strictest of all social distancing levels,” he said.
The government last set alerts in Seoul to their highest level of 2.5 in December, forcing the closure of Paradise Co’s Walkerhill Casino and Grand Korea Leisure’s casinos at Gangnam COEX and Gangbuk Millenium Seoul Hilton. GKL also suspended operations at Busan Lotte Hotel, while Kangwon Land – the only casino at which locals are allowed to gamble – closed for two months from 8 December to 15 February. Kangwon Land was only last month granted permission to double capacity.
Wednesday’s figure of 1,212 cases nationwide was lower only than the 1,237 recorded on 24 December.