South Korea reported 40 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, marking the biggest daily spike in 49 days as millions of children go back to school and authorities fight to contain an outbreak stemming from a stretched-thin e-commerce warehouse.
Wednesday’s cases have more than doubled overnight.
South Korea has recorded 11,200 coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Dozens of cases have been linked to an e-commerce logistics center owned by online shopping giant Coupang in Seoul.
The first case at the warehouse is linked to an outbreak connected to nightclubs in Seoul at the start of the month.
Much like Amazon, Coupang has seen a spike in users during the pandemic as consumers look online to get their goods and groceries delivered. In March, daily deliveries rose to 3 million, from 2.2 million in February, Reuters reported.
But the center was forced to close on Monday, while the site is being disinfected and 3,600 workers tested. Officials say they are keeping a “close eye” on the facility amod concerns that infections linked to the center could increase.
The spike coincides with 2 million children returning to the classroom on Wednesday as South Korea moves into the second phase of its school reopening plan. But students have to adhere to new social distancing measures including using hand sanitizer, masks and temperature checks.
South Korea largely managed to stay in control of its coronavirus outbreak without having to implement strict lockdowns seen in hard-hit countries, through a comprehensive testing and tracing strategy. But the latest developments are another setback in the nation’s bid to contain a second wave. Just last month, South Korea reported no new local infections but around May 10, nightclubs across Seoul’s nightlife district closed after a string of cases were linked to one man who had coronavirus and visited the sites.