South Korea yesterday reported 386 new cases of COVID-19 in a resurgence that could force authorities to reimpose stronger social distancing restrictions after easing them last month to spur a faltering economy.
The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency have brought the national caseload to 30,403, including 503 deaths.
More than 270 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to track transmissions in schools, private tutoring academies and religious facilities.
Infections were also reported in other major cities including Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju and Asan.
South Korea has so far managed to weather its COVID-19 epidemic without major lockdowns, relying instead on an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign and mask-wearing.
Officials eased distancing measures to the lowest level last month, which allowed high-risk venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and fans to return to professional sports.
However, the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases on Friday said that the country could be reporting more than 1,000 new infections a day in a week or two if social distancing measures are not effectively enhanced.
“COVID-19 transmissions are occurring in large numbers simultaneously across the country, and in some regions, the pace of infections has already overwhelmed local capacities for contact tracing,” the doctors’ group said.
The number of confirmed cases in Japan reached a record for the third straight day at 2,418.
Japan, with fewer than 2,000 deaths related to COVID-19, has been relatively successful at containing the damage from the pandemic with social distancing and the widespread use of masks, but worries are growing about another surge over a three-day weekend. Tomorrow is Labor Thanksgiving holiday.
A government coronavirus panel was to meet yesterday to discuss possibly scaling back the “GoTo” tourism campaign, which offers discounts for domestic travel and eating out.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been aggressive on keeping the economy going while balancing health risks.
Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) was packed yesterday with vacationers.
Popular holiday travel spots, such as the northernmost main island of Hokkaido and urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka, have seen COVID-19 cases jump.
India has reported 46,232 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, with the situation particularly alarming in New Delhi.
Intensive care wards and the capital’s main crematorium are near capacity, and health officials this week found the prevalence of infections in markets much higher than expected.
New Delhi has added an average of 6,700 cases each day in the past few weeks.
The next two weeks in the post-festival season, which includes celebrations for the Diwali holiday, are going to be important in determining which way the virus will go.
The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare yesterday also registered 564 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 132,726.
While the pace of new cases in the country of 1.3 billion appears to be slowing, experts have cautioned that official figures might be offering false hope since many infections are undetected.
India hit a grim milestone on Friday, recording 9 million infections, the second-largest behind the US.
The two states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have announced night curfews in at least eight cities from yesterday. Northern Rajasthan state is also imposing restrictions on the assembly of more than four people during nighttime.
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