South Korea ETF Retreats After a Spike in Coronavirus Cases

South Korea country-specific exchange trade funds plunged Thursday on rising fears over new infections with coronavirus cases surging by triple-digit numbers for the seventh consecutive day.

The iShares MSCI South Korea ETF (NYSEArca: EWY) decreased 2.7% on Thursday.

South Korea added another 288 more Covid-19 cases, including 276 local infections, raising the total caseload to 16,346, Yonhap News Agency reports. While it was slightly off from the 297 additional cases reported Wednesday, the daily new infections have been in the triple digits since Friday when 103 new infections were reported, with more than 1,500 cases being newly identified over the past week.

South Korean officials believed that the spreading coronavirus was associated with members of a church attending a political demonstration, New York Post reports.

“This is a grave situation that could possibly lead to a nationwide pandemic,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing. “Consider the COVID-19 pandemic now to be in full swing.”

Investors are worried about another widespread lockdown measure after health authorities warned that this week will be a critical time in judging whether the country will face another Covid-19 wave.

The new cases are also spread across the country. Outside the greater Seoul area, more cases are being reported in 15 cities and provinces, adding to concerns that the virus could rampage across the country.

The government, though, said it was not yet time to raise the level of social distancing to Level 3. The highest anti-virus curbs would be issued when the number of daily virus cases reaches a two-week average of 100-200 and new COVID-19 cases doubles for more than twice per week.

KCDC deputy director Kwon Jun-wook warned that without aggressive contact tracing, the country could experience the types of Covid-19 spikes and ongoing infection rates seen across the United States and Europe.

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