COVID-19 case clusters offer lessons and warnings for reopening

Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, countries are looking for ways to restart their economies, public health officials are looking to guide safe reopening and people are eagerly looking to escape cabin fever. But tough lessons have surfaced from countries that were hit early in the pandemic and have already reopened.

Consider South Korea: In April, after new cases had steadily declined to single digits, the country began easing lockdown restrictions. But that respite was short-lived. On May 6, a 29-year-old man tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, just a few days after visiting five dance clubs in one night in Seoul’s Itaewon district. On May 8, South Korea responded quickly, postponing plans to reopen schools and urging bars and clubs to shut down again for a month. As of June 8, the Korean Centers for Disease Control had linked the sick man to 96 other clubgoers who got COVID-19, plus 178 people with whom those clubgoers came into contact.

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