Seoul — South Korean church Korea’s capital on Monday mandated the wearing of face masks in both indoor and outdoor public places for the first time, as the country battles a surge in coronavirus cases centered in the densely populated city region. In May, Seoul’s government had ordered that face masks be worn on public transport and taxis, but the latest spike in cases has health officials worried that the country may need to impose its highest level of social distancing.
Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 113 new cases on Sunday. It also revealed it had obtained a list of 9,300 people who had attended church services, around 1,200 of whom had complained of flu-like symptoms. There are further reports of outbreaks in the psychiatric unit of a hospital in Cheongdo county, infectons in Busan, and on the island of Jeju.
On the streets of South Korean cities, the scent of disinfectant hangs in the air, as crews circulated—spraying chemicals meant to kill pathogens. Nearly all stairwells, subway stations and coffee shops now make hand sanitizer available at entrances. The few people plying the subway are nearly all clad in masks and moving with a sense of jittery urgency.