COVID-19 flares up in Seoul’s main leisure district

South Korea’s capital city  authorities have been on high alert after a new cluster of coronavirus infections was linked to leisure establishments in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood – an international area popular with foreigners and known for its vibrant night life and wild parties.

Health officials reported 15 new cases around Itaewon on Friday, with their number later growing to 40 nationwide on Saturday afternoon.

Authorities have cracked down on Seoul’s nightlife after reports of a young clubber infecting people with Covid-19. Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) traced 27 cases to a 29-year-old patient who tested positive for the novel coronavirus after visiting two convenience stores along with five clubs and bars last weekend.

The clubber apparently did not wear a mask during his trips. Up to 1,500 people are believed to have visited the establishments during the same time period.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon warned that night clubs and bars will face “strict punishment” if they fail comply with the Saturday’s order to suspend business activities. The order will remain in effect until further notice.

The nation now fears a new wave of infections after easing social distancing rules.

South Korea was the second-hardest-hit country behind China during the early stages of the outbreak. However, the authorities managed to control the spread of the disease through mass testing and contact tracing, all while avoiding a nationwide lockdown.