SEOUL, South Korea — The mayor of South Korea’s capital fears the country is losing control over a virus resurgence and said Seoul will reimpose stronger social distancing measures if the daily jump in infections doesn’t come below an average of 30 over the next three days.
“If Seoul gets penetrated (by the virus), the entire Republic of Korea gets penetrated,” Park Won-soon said Monday in a televised briefing, referring to South Korea by its formal name.
He also lamented what he described as complacency of citizens in social distancing, citing an increase in public transportation usage that he says has been approaching last year’s levels in recent weeks.
Citing research by health experts, Park the country could be possibly reporting as much as 800 new cases a day a month from now if it fails to stem current trends in transmissions. He said the basic reproduction number of virus carriers, which measures the number of infections caused by an individual, has reached nearly 1.8 for the period between April 30 and June 11. Any number above 1 indicates a growing epidemic.
In a separate briefing, Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledged that the country was now going through a second wave of the virus, following a surge in late February and March centered around the southeastern city of Daegu.
The country has been reporting around 40 to 50 new cases per day since late May, mostly from the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live.
South Korea was reported around 500 new case per day in early March but managed to control the outbreak with an active testing and contact tracing campaign.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— The world saw the largest daily increases yet in coronavirus cases, even as some spots saw progress.
— As virus surges, Pakistan says there’s no choice but to open.
— From shopping to dining out, New York City hits the “biggest piece” of its reopening plan, but some remain wary.
— Coronavirus lockdowns have increased wildlife poaching in Asia and Africa, and it may worsen as countries reopen.
— Young baseball players, deprived of a treasured tournament appearance, get a memento from the stadium.
— Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BERLIN — Germany’s labor minister is calling for an examination of whether a company whose slaughterhouse is at the center of a big coronavirus outbreak can be held financially liable for the fallout.
As of Sunday, with most results of tests on workers at the Toennies site in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck now in, 1,331 had tested positive and another 4,568 negative.
Local authorities in the western county of Guetersloh have quarantined Toennies employees and last week closed schools in the area. But they are keen to avoid reimposing a wider lockdown, and North Rhine-Westphalia state governor Armin Laschet said Sunday there has been no “significant jump” of the virus to the rest of the local population.
Labor Minister Hubertus Heil told ARD television Monday he expects the company to do everything to limit the damage. He added: “I think we must examine what civil-law liability possibilities there are in this area.”
The source of the infections isn’t yet clear.
NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus caseload has risen to 425,282 as infections soar in rural areas to which migrant workers fleeing major cities have returned in recent weeks.
India’s health ministry on Monday reported 14,821 new cases and about 300 new deaths, bring the toll of fatalities up to more than 13,000. The coastal state of Goa reported its first COVID-19 death.
India is the fourth most-affected country globally after the United States, Brazil and Russia.
India’s government planning body Niti Aayog says infections have now emerged in 98 out of 112 of the country’s poorest districts.
The Indian government ran special trains to bring thousands of migrant workers back to their ancestral villages in recent weeks.
Still, about 60% of India’s cases have been reported in the states of Delhi, which includes the national capital of New Delhi, Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai and Tamil Nadu, where manufacturing hub Chennai is located.
CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian state of Victoria on Monday reported 16 new cases of the coronavirus as it tries to bring an outbreak there under control.
The number of cases in the state is the highest in two months and has accounted for more than 80% of Australia’s new cases over the past week. That increase has forced the state government to reverse some of its plans to ease certain restrictions from Monday.
Meanwhile, Australia’s central bank says the economic downturn is not as bad as it first feared.
Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe says the economy is benefiting from the way the government responded to the pandemic in both health and economic terms. The number of new cases and the 102 deaths from the virus in Australia are low compared to many other countries.
BEIJING — The chairman of a chain of pharmacies in Beijing has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for selling more than 500,000 counterfeit 3M Corp. masks during the coronavirus epidemic, news reports said Monday.
Two people who colluded with Li Dong, chairman of Kang Baixin Pharmacy, also were sentenced to prison by the Chaoyang District Court, the Beijing News and other outlets reported, citing unidentified sources.
There was no announcement from the court and phone calls to its press office weren’t answered.
Li and co-defendants Li Yuzhang and Luo Hanyi were convicted of buying fake 3M masks and reselling them to pharmacies or individuals, the news reports said. They said the defendants all denied the charges and said they would appeal their conviction.
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials say Saudi Arabia has asked the Manila government to bring home the remains of nearly 300 Filipino workers which have accumulated in the oil-rich kingdom in recent months because of coronavirus restrictions.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III says Saudi King Salman himself made the urgent request for the 282 bodies to be transported back to the Philippines in 72 hours. The workers died mostly of various illnesses, including COVID-19, in Saudi Arabia, where more than 800,000 Filipinos work.
The Philippines asked that the three-day deadline be extended and that the bodies of about 50 Filipinos who died of COVID-19 disease be buried in Saudi Arabia, Bello said. He told The Associated Press Monday that the requests would likely be granted.
A leading source of global labor, the Philippine government has been struggling to help bring home tens of thousands of Filipinos, who have lost their work worldwide due to coronavirus lockdowns and economic downturns while dealing with alarming numbers of infections in the country.
Philippine officials have reported more than 30,000 infections, including 1,169 deaths, among the highest in Southeast Asia.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported two new cases of the coronavirus as a trickle of infected people continue to arrive at the border.
The country of 5 million people now has nine active cases after having none at all earlier this month.
Health officials said Monday that all those cases involve people who have recently arrived and are in quarantine, and there’s no evidence of community transmission.
Still, many remain anxious community transmission could return, especially after health officials admitted making a mistake by allowing two women who had arrived from London to leave quarantine before they had been tested because a parent was dying. The women later tested positive and have since isolated themselves.
The latest two cases involve people returning from India and Pakistan.
BEIJING — China has reported 18 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including nine in Beijing and two in neighboring Hebei province.
It was the first time in more than a week that the number fell to single digits in an outbreak in the Chinese capital. Previously, the city had reported more than 20 cases every day for eight straight days. The total number of cases since the first one was confirmed on June 11 rose to 236.
The fall in numbers comes after China strengthened measures to eradicate the virus in Beijing, including cancelling school classes and public events. The other seven new cases in China were brought from outside the country.
The National Health Commission said Monday that 89 people remain in treatment with COVID-19 and 129 people are in isolation as suspected cases or for testing positive for the virus without showing symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 83,396 cases of the virus.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An inmate from Avenal State Prison in California has died from what appear to be complications from the coronavirus.
The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said late Saturday the inmate died at a hospital and the exact cause of death has yet to be determined. No additional information was provided.
Authorities said 19 inmates in state custody have died from illnesses related to the virus. It’s the first death at Avenal State Prison in Kings County, where 131 inmates have tested positive for the virus. The prison is 180 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
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