Seoul, South Korea
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.