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The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 371 new coronavirus cases on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, the 15th day of triple digit increases that have spoiled earlier successes in containing the virus. Pixabay
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 371 new coronavirus cases on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, the 15th day of triple digit increases that have spoiled earlier successes in containing the virus. Pixabay (Pixabay)

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea extended prevention measures aimed at slowing a new coronavirus outbreak for another week, while Seoul city officials tightened restrictions on restaurants as the number of new cases over the past two weeks rose to 4,307.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 371 new cases on Friday, the 15th day of triple digit increases that have spoiled earlier successes in containing the virus.

That raised the total number since the country reported its first case on Jan. 20 to 19,077. The death toll also rose by three to 316, with 58 patients in severe or critical condition, according to the KCDC.

The number of patients in isolation rose to 4,210, up 278 from the day before, while 14,551 patients have fully recovered and been released, it said.

The latest outbreak, which began two weeks ago, has been centered in Seoul and surrounding areas, with cluster infections increasing in other parts of the country. In all, 4,307 cases have been reported since Aug. 14.

Authorities announced plans to continue to enforce for another week heightened restrictions that began on Aug. 16, warning they may need to impose even stricter measures if the situation is not contained soon.

The current restrictions, known as level 2 social distancing, include banning large gatherings and in-person church services, as well as ordering high-risk facilities like bars and internet cafes to close.

The government has resisted stricter measures that would likely amount to a lockdown, fearing economic hardship.

But Health Minister Park Neung-hoo announced new guidelines for the greater Seoul area on Friday, tightening restrictions on gyms and billiard clubs, banning in-person dining at restaurants and bakeries between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., and limiting large coffee shops to takeout and delivery services.

One-third of workers at government and public institutions will be advised to work from home, he said.

“We are taking the virus situation in the greater Seoul area very seriously and will make an all-out effort to stem the spread of the virus here,” he said during a regular briefing. “The Level 3 distancing is our last resort.”

gamel.kim@stripes.com Twitter: @kimgamel

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