South Korea to shut down ski resorts

South Korea is battling a new outbreak of coronavirus infection putting its no-lockdown strategy to the test.

The surge has rattled the country that for much of 2020 was held up as a covid-19 success story.

On Tuesday it moved to shut down all ski resorts and winter tourist spots from this Thursday until early January.

There is also a ban on gatherings of more than four people in Seoul and its surrounding areas, though funerals and weddings are exempt.

Disinfection officer, Yoon Tae-Ho, said people should heed the rules across the whole country.

"We also strongly recommend that people should refrain from having a social gathering of five and more people nationwide. Considering infection cases among family members and friends, restaurants need to ban a reservation and an entry for five and more people. If they breach these measures they will be fined."

The national government has so far resisted calls to impose Phase 3 in the country's anti-Covid-19 plans.

That would mean the toughest category of social distancing rules, essentially locking down Asia's fourth largest economy.

South Korea announced its highest number of daily deaths on Monday with 24 fatalties, and there were a record number of new cases on Sunday.

This third wave of the virus has been particularly hard for contact tracers to get on top of as it emerged in the densely populated capital region.