South Korea Says It Is Battling ‘Second Wave’ of Coronavirus

June 23, 2020 Updated: June 23, 2020

SEOUL—Health authorities in South Korea said for the first time on June 22 that the country is in the midst of a “second wave” of CCP virus infections around Seoul, driven by small but persistent outbreaks stemming from a holiday in May.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) had previously said South Korea’s first wave had never really ended.

But on June 22, KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said it had become clear that a holiday weekend in early May marked the beginning of a new wave of infections focused in the densely populated greater Seoul area, which had previously seen few cases.

“In the metropolitan area, we believe that the first wave was from March to April as well as February to March,” Jeong said at a regular briefing. “Then we see that the second wave which was triggered by the May holiday has been going on.”

At the end of February, South Korea reported a peak of more than 900 cases in a day, in the first large outbreak of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, outside of China.

The numbers were down to single digits by late April.

But just as the country announced it would be easing social distancing guidelines in early May, new cases spiked, driven in part by infections among young people who visited nightclubs and bars in Seoul over the holiday weekend.

“We originally predicted that the second wave would emerge in fall or winter,” Jeong said. “Our forecast turned out to be wrong. As long as people have close contact with others, we believe that infections will continue.”

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said at a briefing that while daily numbers may be at manageable levels, if recent infection rates continue, the city could soon see hundreds of cases per day.

As of midnight June 21, South Korea reported 17 new CCP virus cases, the first time in nearly a month that daily new cases had dropped below 20. It was a drop from the 48 and 67 cases reported in the previous two days.

South Korea has reported a total of 12,438 cases, with 280 deaths.

By Josh Smith. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.