South Korea’s government to limit the number of students going back to school

South Korea’s government will inspect working conditions at distribution centres and toughen guidelines on the number of students allowed to attend classes in the Seoul metropolitan area, amid concern over a recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the capital and surrounding areas.

The education ministry said it would limit the number of students going back to school to one-third of the total student body at primary and middle schools, and two-thirds at high schools, according to the Yonhap news agency.

The announcement came after the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported 58 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, a day after it reported a near two-month high of 79 cases.

All of the infections identified on Friday were in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to around half of the country’s 51 million people, bringing the national total to 11,402 infections and 269 deaths.

After managing to contain the first outbreak, South Korea is battling to prevent a second wave of infections.

The latest cluster has been traced to a warehouse in Bucheon, near Seoul, where employees reportedly failed to take preventive measures such as wearing masks and observing social distancing. Their employer, the e-commerce firm Coupang, reportedly refused to allow some workers to self-isolate even after they started showing symptoms of the illness.

Health authorities have found at least 82 infections linked to the warehouse, and are in the process of testing all 4,000 employees and recent visitors.

As a precaution, the Bucheon city government earlier this week ordered the closure of 251 local schools, but allowed classes for older high school students to continue, Yonhap said.

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