South Korea recorded 880 new coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Of the new cases, 32 were imported. The country also recorded 13 additional virus-related deaths.
The new figures raise the country’s total to 44,364 confirmed cases and 600 fatalities.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the government was now weighing up whether to introduce the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.
“The government is listening to different opinions and carefully considering whether to raise the social distancing measures to level 3. We shouldn’t miss the timing, but we also cannot make a hasty decision,” he said.
Alert levels in South Korea range from 1 – the least concerning situation – to 3, signifying the toughest measures necessary. Levels rise in increments of 0.5.
Currently, the country is at Level 2 national alert, but the greater Seoul area and the southeastern port city of Busan are at Level 2.5 – the second-highest level.
If the government raises the alert to the highest level, that means a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, work from home for all non-essential employees, and a shift to online for all schools and church services.
“Considering the gravity and impact of Level 3 measures, there is a need to calmly check on ourselves first – if we’re abiding by the current measures properly,” Chung said, adding that raising the alert to Level 3 would “come with irreversible pain.”