South Korea warns of new COVID-19 crisis

South Korea will impose stricter social-distancing rules for the capital Seoul, as officials warned on Tuesday (November 17) of a new spike in COVID-19 cases.

From Thursday (November 19), public gatherings of more than 100 people will be banned.

While churches and sporting events must keep attendance to a maximum of 30% capacity.

Venues considered high-risk, such as clubs and karaoke bars, must increase the distance between guests.

The decision to impose tougher restrictions came on Tuesday after the daily case tally hovered above 200 for the fourth day in a row.

South Korea's Prime Minister said he had no choice but to intervene:

"The heightened curbs would cause greater inconvenience in our daily lives and bring hardship to small business owners, but we all know from our experiences that there would be an even bigger crisis if we don't act now."

South Korea has previously won widespread praise for its handling of the pandemic.

A combination of mass testing, track and trace, and social distancing measures, has largely kept the virus at bay.

So far, the country has recorded nearly 29,000 cases and 494 deaths.