The Latest: Fears S Korea losing control over 2nd virus wave
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:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The head of the World Health Organization is warning that the coronavirus pandemic is still accelerating around the globe.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, noted Monday that the last 1 million cases of the virus were reported in just the last eight days alone.
Ghebreyesus also warned against the “politicization” of the pandemic, likely referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticism of WHO and China over their handling of the outbreak.
Ghebreyesus said: “The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership. We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world.”
Ghebreyesus made the comments during a videoconference organized by the Dubai-based World Government Summit.
JOHANNESBURG — Africa’s reported cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 300,000 as the spread of the disease quickens across the continent. The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday the continent now has 306,567 confirmed cases, including 8,115 deaths and 146,212 recoveries. It took more than 90 days for Africa’s 54 countries to reach 100,000 cases, 19 days to reach 200,000 and now 12 days to go above 300,000. The actual number of cases is believed to be much higher because testing across the continent is low.
South Africa, with 97,302 cases, accounts for nearly 1/3 of the continent’s total cases. The country had initially hoped it could control the disease through testing and tracing. But despite conducting more than 1.3 million tests, the highest number in Africa, it currently takes an average of 12 days to get results, which medical experts say is much too long to do any effective tracking and quarantining.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danes have “jointly won the first halftime in the fight against corona,” Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Monday, warning a second wave could be around the corner as she addressed lawmakers in the Danish Parliament who gathered for the first time since the lockdown.
“There might another halftime as well. Yes, maybe even more. The infection is still here,” Frederiksen told the 179-seat Folketing, where about two-thirds of lawmakers met for a last debate before the summer break. “We see that in the world. We are reminded of it at home.”
“For the first time in several months, we are meeting today in Parliament without restrictions. As is the case with other workplaces, things are different. We need to keep more distance.”
Only the assembly speaker who sits next to where Frederiksen and others spoke was boxed in a plexiglass cage.
Denmark has been among the first European countries to reopen after moving swiftly and ordering a lockdown March 11, in opposition to its neighbor, Sweden, which opted to not shut down and instead rely on citizens’ sense of civic duty.
PARIS — With many more pupils returning to school, cinemas and casinos reopening, and more group sports, France’s coronavirus lockdown measures are largely over.
Schoolyards were again filled with children’s voices as classes resumed Monday for all pupils except those in high schools who have either finished studies for the academic year or still face restrictions.
Schools closed in March as the coronavirus outbreak raged. Classes gradually resumed for some primary and middle school children in May. But for many others, Monday marked a reunion with teachers and pupils they had only seen via video link during remote learning in recent months.
While more group sports resumed on Monday, combat sports remain banned. The government has promised to revue that policy by September.
Masks are also still obligatory on public transport.
If the outbreak continues to abate in France, the government says nightclubs should be allowed to reopen in September along with trade fairs and international cruises.
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.