South Korean leader warns of tightest restrictions yet amid record COVID-19 case increases

South Korea’s president warned Sunday that the government may be forced to issue its tightest restrictions on public life so far in the face of surging numbers of new COVID-19 cases.

Reuters reported that Moon Jae-in said during a news conference that South Korea could move to its third level of coronavirus-related restrictions if case numbers are not brought under control, a level that would mean an end to in-person classes for schools as well as a provision requiring only essential workers reporting to work in person.

“Unless the outbreak can be contained now, it has come to the critical point of considering escalating social-distancing measures to the third level,” he said, according to the news agency.


The president’s remarks come as South Korea is seeing levels of new cases that are now higher than the first wave of COVID-19 cases earlier this year. The country reported just over 1,000 new cases on Saturday, the most health officials in South Korea have seen in one day.

“Our back is against the wall,” Moon continued, according to Reuters. “This is a crucial moment to devote all our virus control capabilities and administrative power to stopping the coronavirus spread.”

Moon’s government plans to fund extra nurses and hospital beds in facilities across the country in response to the wave of new infections, according to Reuters. Health officials have stated that outbreaks largely remain limited to the country’s densely-populated city centers thus far.