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Coronavirus cases on the rise in South Korea and India


Police officers and visitors wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus wander through central Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020.


South Korea reported 279 new coronavirus cases in the largest single-day increase since early March amid mounting fears of a large-scale outbreak in the capital and its metropolitan region.

Figures released Sunday by the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the total nationwide cases to 15,318 including 305 deaths.

The number of new cases is the highest since the 367 reported on March 8, when the country dedicated its instruments and public health personnel to control the outbreak in a southern region with a lower population density.

The centers said 253 new cases were in the Seoul metropolitan area of ​​26 million people and where authorities have struggled to contain infections linked to churches, nursing homes, schools, restaurants and house-to-house vendors.

The infections were also recorded in other major cities such as Busan and Daegu, which was the epicenter of the previous crisis in late February and March, when hundreds of new cases were reported every day.

The resurgence of COVID-19 in a region with 10 times more population than Daegu is a rude awakening for a country that wants to show off its progress against the virus.

There are concerns that the spread could worsen after anti-government protesters gathered in Seoul on Saturday despite requests from authorities to stay home.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s state of Victoria reported 16 COVID-19 deaths and 279 new infections on Sunday, a downward trend from last week.

State Premier Daniel Andrews said the most recent deaths include people in their 70s, 80s and 90s, 11 of whom were in a nursing home.

Andrews expressed “cautious optimism” that the strict confinement in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, and in rural areas of Victoria, are helping to flatten the contagion curve.

For its part, India was approaching 50,000 deaths on Sunday after reporting 944 deaths in the last 24 hours. The country now has the fourth-deadliest place, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The confirmed infections in India reached 2.58 million, and its recovery rate exceeds 70%. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that three vaccines are in different phases of testing and that mass production will begin as soon as scientists give the green light.

In New Zealand, authorities reported 13 new cases of coronavirus, including 12 related to an outbreak in the city of Auckland discovered on Tuesday. This outbreak prompted the authorities to quarantine the country’s largest city again for two weeks. So far, 49 infections have been confirmed. New Zealand had gone 102 days without infection. Authorities believe the virus came from abroad, but have not been able to find out how.