(11:00 AM, Monday, May 11, 2020)
<Current State of Mass COVID-19 Outbreak in Clubs of Itaewon, Seoul>
The mass COVID-19 outbreak that started in clubs located in Itaewon is currently spreading both locally and nationally. The total number of confirmed cases related to the COVID-19 outbreak in Itaewon clubs is 85 as of 10 a.m. on May 11, with 51 of the confirmed patients from Seoul. This number includes family members and acquaintances. A total of 3,077 individuals in Seoul who either visited clubs in Itaewon or made contact with club visitors have been tested. Among them, 1,049 are currently being tested.
As quickly as the virus spreads, prompt preventive measures must be taken to prevent the spread. We are now in a race against the virus. The next few days are crucial for Seoul regarding mass outbreaks. Once Seoul is affected, all of Korea will be affected as well.
<Anonymous Testing for Prompt Total Inspections>
Of the 5,517 individuals who visited clubs in Itaewon, contact was made with 2,405 individuals while 3,112 individuals remain unreachable. This implies intentional avoidance of phone calls or a false report of information. All individuals who visited clubs in Itaewon or were in the vicinity of the clubs between April 24 and May 6 must be tested immediately. We earnestly ask for the cooperation of these individuals as testing will contribute to one’s safety as well as the safety of family members, neighbors, and the nation.
It has come to our attention that many individuals are hesitating to get tested due to concerns about identity disclosure. However, there is no need to worry. The SMG will perform anonymous testing to guarantee personal security. Tested individuals may omit their names as they will be given numbers according to each community health center, and only a phone number will be required. Testing will be free of charge.
Additionally, we will secure lists of individuals who were at the venues as soon as possible. Requests for the lists have been made, and we will secure them as quickly as possible through cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korean National Police Agency.
The SMG hopes that individuals connected with the club-related outbreak will get tested voluntarily, but forcible actions will be taken at the same time. Immediate testing is ordered for individuals who visited clubs based in Itaewon. Those who do not get tested but are found to have visited the clubs in the future will be fined with a maximum fee of KRW 2 million.
<Quarantine Regulations and Intensive Control of Entertainment Facilities in Seoul>
The SMG issues an administrative order for entertainment facilities with seven quarantine regulations. Entertainment facilities refer to “hunting pocha” and other facilities where food and liquor are enjoyed along with dancing. If the seven quarantine regulations are not observed, the relevant business will be issued an immediate order for ban on gatherings and will be responsible for all legal liabilities.
The order for bans on gatherings at clubs, room salons, bars, colatecs, and other entertainment facilities was issued on the 9th by the city of Seoul. However, the issue at hand is the balloon effect. Last week, instead of visiting clubs, many people crowded to hunting pochas where close contact frequently occurs, leading to the concern of droplet infections.
Furthermore, it has been determined that quarantine regulations for the prevention of the infectious disease will not be voluntarily observed, hence, leading to the order for observance of the seven quarantine regulations. We further ask that PC bangs, karaoke rooms, and call centers, where mass outbreaks have occurred in the past, continue to fully comply with the seven quarantine regulations. The SMG will continue to make strict inspections of facilities, and in the case that the risk of infection is too great, the city may extend the order for bans on gatherings to the aforesaid facilities.
We regret to inform everyone of the occurrence of the continued outbreak and the heavy decision that was made. However, we hope that the citizens will understand that strict measures were taken under desperation, once again, at the starting point of the long and dark tunnel of COVID-19 outbreaks.
One moment of carelessness can lead to an explosion of infections. We are not entirely safe from an outbreak like the one that happened in Singapore. At this time, we are once again reminded how difficult it is to make the transition to social distancing in everyday life.
We remind you once more that the next few days are absolutely crucial. We ask that you remain especially cautious during this time and comply with the quarantine measures.
The SMG will stand at the frontline in the battle against COVID-19. The vaccine for Seoul is its unwavering citizens. Thank you.