AP PHOTOS: Masked fashion models walk Seoul runway

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Models wearing a colorful range of face masks walked a runway Friday in South Korea’s capital, where health authorities are scrambling to stem a rise in coronavirus infections as people increasingly venture out in public.

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Lim Yeon-hee, the chief organizer of the Seoul fashion show, said she hoped to create a cheerful vibe after the nation went through months of grueling anti-virus campaigns.

“The entire world is in a very difficult situation due to COVID-19,” said Lim, wearing a glittering pink mask matching the style of her out-sized fedora.

“In addition to an economic slump, activities in culture, arts and sports have also been reduced. ... We should all work together to overcome the crisis.”

Similar mask-themed fashion shows have been held in major cities such as Paris and Shanghai.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 41 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 earlier Friday, bringing the national caseload to 13,979, including 298 deaths.

The country has been reporting 20 to 60 new cases per day since easing social distancing measures in early May. Most of the infections have come from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live.