Asian governments put limit on public gatherings as Christmas and New Year Holidays approach

Published on : Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Most of the Asian countries lies Seoul, Singapore and Thailand grappled with surging numbers of coronavirus cases as the Christmas and new year holidays approach. In Seoul, gatherings of more than four people were banned, while Jakarta extended its restrictions for an extra two weeks.

Thailand’s prime minister urged calm after imposing a lockdown on one of the country’s southern provinces. In Australia, meanwhile, an outbreak in Sydney, the country’s largest city, appeared to have been brought under control.

The South Korean government has resisted calls to impose a strict national lockdown but the governments of Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon city ordered unprecedented restrictions on gatherings from December 23 to January 3.

Seoul acting mayor Seo Jung-hyup said that they cannot overcome the current crisis without reducing cluster infections that are spreading through private gatherings with families, friends and colleagues. This is the last chance to break the spread.

This travel ban on gatherings applies to all indoor and outdoor functions except funerals and weddings. Currently they ban gatherings of more than nine people. Combined the two cities and the province account for about half of South Korea’s 51 million residents.

Within Seoul, restaurants and similar venues accounted for 41.4 per cent of cluster infections over the past four weeks, followed by 16.9 per cent from offices, 15.5 per cent from places of worship and 12.3 per cent from medical facilities and nursing homes, according to local government data.

Earlier on Monday, South Korea reported 24 more virus-related deaths in the country’s highest daily fatalities since the pandemic began, bringing the total to 698 deaths. There were just four intensive care unit beds remaining in the greater Seoul area as of Sunday, according to city data. The government has ordered private hospitals to free up more than 300 beds for coronavirus patients, and has allocated US$4.5 million to compensate the facilities.

There were a further 926 coronavirus cases, down from a record high 1,097 the day before. Overall South Korea has reported 50,591 cases since the pandemic began.

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