A resurgence of COVID-19 infections in South Korea has health officials worried a second wave is on the way.
The country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 45 new cases on Thursday (June 11). The number of active cases rose above 1,000 this week after dropping below that mark in mid-May, the Associated Press reports.
KCDC director Jung Eun-kyeong warns that the country could be sleepwalking into another COVID-19 crisis. Most recent cases have been in the Seoul metropolitan area. She said health workers are struggling to track transmissions that are spreading quickly and unpredictably as people increase their activities and practise less physical distancing.
“Considering the quick transmission of COVID-19, there’s limits to what we can do with contact tracing alone to slow the spread,” Yoon Taeho, a senior Health Ministry official, said during a virus briefing on Thursday. The Seoul region is home to half of South Korea’s 51 million citizens.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently met with the country’s 16 governors to discuss further easing restrictions. The country lowered the number of new infections per day to less than 1,000 before lifting certain restrictions and gradually reopening the economy and partially opening schools. However, the reproduction rate of the virus rose just days after easing restrictions. Germany now has a reproduction number, or R, over one, which means each infected person transmits the virus to more than one person.
Soon after Iran began easing restrictions, it had to place a province in the southwestern part of the country back on lockdown. Gholamreza Shariati, governor of Khuzestan province, said the rise in cases was due to people not observing social distancing rules.
“Because of this, the number of corona patients in the province has tripled and the hospitalisation of patients has risen by 60%,” he said, according to Tasmin news agency.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says a second round of COVID-19 cases is “inevitable.”
” “I’m almost certain it will come back, because the virus is so transmissible and it’s globally spread,” he said during a recent Economic Club of Washington webinar.
The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota reports there are several possible scenarios for the course of the pandemic, with the worst being a second wave of infections like the 1918 influenza pandemic.
“This thing’s not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70% of people,” CIDRAP director Mike Osterholm told CNN.
“The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology,” he said.