World

Seoul to ban gatherings of more than four as Covid deaths rise

SEOUL: South Korea banned gatherings of more than four people in the capital and surrounding areas yesterday as the country recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll since the epidemic began.

Officials said a surge in infections had left hospitals in the capital region with a chronic shortage of intensive care beds.

The country reported 926 new cases yesterday, and the death toll was now at 698 after 24 people died in the past 24 hours - a record high since the emergence of the epidemic.

Acting mayor Seo Jung-hyup said there were only four empty beds left in intensive care units in Seoul.

Seoul and surrounding regions is home to half the country's 52 million people.

The order applies to both indoors and outdoors, Mr Seo said, adding the situation requires "extreme self-control, sacrifice, and patience".

CALL FOR CALM

Thailand's leader called for calm yesterday and said there were no immediate plans for a wider lockdown after 382 new infections were confirmed yesterday.

Of the new cases, 360 were migrant workers connected to a seafood centre outbreak in Samut Sakhon, a province near the capital Bangkok, where a lockdown has been imposed and thousands of tests were being conducted to contain and track the spread.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government would monitor the situation for a week before taking further action.

"Don't panic just yet. We strongly hope everything will calm down in seven days," he told reporters.

"I don't want to go as far as a lockdown like other countries. This spread is traceable."

Infections linked to the seafood centre rose to 821, most of those asymptomatic.

Up to 40,000 people will be tested in and around Samut Sakhon, health officials have said. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD