Christians wearing face masks pray during a service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2020. (AHN YOUNG-JOON / AP)
SEOUL / NEW DELHI / BAGHDAD / JERUSALEM / ANKARA / DUBAI / BANGKOK / TOKYO / WELLINGTON / MELBOURNE / MANILA / KABUL / JAKARTA KUALA LUMPUR - South Korea warned of a second wave of the new coronavirus on Sunday as infections rebounded to a one-month high, just as the authorities were starting to ease some pandemic restrictions.
Israel reported 18 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the lowest daily increase since March 12 when 12 new patients were added
“It’s not over until it’s over,” President Moon Jae-in told the nation, saying a new cluster shows the virus can spread widely at any time, and warning of a second wave late this year.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 34 new infections, the highest since April 9, after a small outbreak emerged around a slew of nightclubs, prompting the authorities to temporary close all nightly entertainment facilities around the capital.
The death toll remained at 256.
Battling the first major coronavirus outbreak outside China, South Korea brought infections of the virus, and the disease COVID-19 that it causes, down drastically through widespread testing, aggressive contact tracing and tracking apps. The response has helped Asia’s fourth-largest economy come to grips with the pandemic without extensive the lockdowns seen elsewhere.
The daily tally of new infections had hovered around 10 or less in recent weeks, with no or very few domestic cases over the past 10 days.
The fresh outbreak comes just as the government was easing some social distancing restrictions and moving to fully reopen schools and businesses, in a transition from intensive social distancing to “distancing in daily life.”
The resurgence is driven by an outbreak centred around a handful of Seoul nightclubs, which a man in his late 20s had visited before testing positive last week.
At least 24 out of the 26 new domestically transmitted infections were traced to that man, bringing the infections related to the case to 54, the KCDC said.
The KCDC said officials are tracking down about 1,900 people who have gone to the clubs, which could be increased to 7,000, asking anyone who was there last week to self-isolate for 14 days and be tested.
Afghanistan reported 361 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the biggest daily increase since the outbreak of the pandemic in February, the Ministry of Public Health confirmed.
The new infections have brought to 4,402 the total number of people infected to the virus, including 3,724 active cases as of Sunday morning throughout the country, the ministry said in a statement.
Five COVID patients died since early Saturday, bringing the death toll to 120.
The number of people who had showed improvement and discharged from hospitals stood at 558, according to the statement.
Earlier in the day, Afghan health authorities confirmed that 392 health personnel, including Public Health Minister Firuzuddin Firuz, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Australia’s biggest state, New South Wales (NSW), will allow cafes and restaurants, playgrounds and outdoor pools to reopen on Friday May 15 as extensive testing has shown the spread of the coronavirus has slowed sharply, New South Wales state’s premier said on Sunday.
The state has been worst hit by the coronavirus in Australia, with about 45 percent of the country’s confirmed cases and deaths. However it recorded just two new cases on Saturday out of nearly 10,000 people tested, clearing the way for a cautious loosening of lockdown measures.
NSW will allow cafes and restaurants to seat 10 patrons at a time, permit outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, and visits of up to five people to a household.
Places of worship in NSW will be permitted to open to up to 10 people from Friday. Weddings, which had been restricted to two guests, will be able to host up to 10 guests, and indoor funerals will be allowed to have 20 mourners.
NSW and Victoria, which has had the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country, have maintained their tight restrictions longer than other states in the country.
Victoria’s premier said he would announce plans for easing lockdown measures in the state on Monday.
Western Australia, which shut its borders to combat the spread of the virus and has had only 1 new COVID-19 case in the past 11 days, has moved faster than other states in easing restrictions.
ALSO READ: Australia's biggest states hold off relaxing COVID-19 lockdowns
India's federal health ministry Sunday morning said 128 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 3,277 positive cases were reported since Saturday in the country, taking the number of deaths to 2,109 and total cases to 62,939.
On Saturday morning, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country was 59,662, and the death toll was 1,981.
According to ministry officials, so far 19,358 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.
Sunday marks the 47th straight day of ongoing lockdown across the country announced by the central government to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The lockdown announced on March 25 was last week extended for the second time for two more weeks until May 17.
Migrant workers sit on a road as they wait for transportation to take them back to their home states, during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of new coronavirus, in Ahmedabad, India, May 9, 2020. (AJIT SOLANKI / AP)
Indonesia reported 387 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, taking the total number to 14,032, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.
The Southeast Asian country also reported 14 more people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, bringing total to 973, Yurianto said. Meanwhile, 2,698 people have recovered.
More than 113,452 people have been tested, he said, adding that many areas across the country are still showing fluctuating number of new infections.
The Iraqi Health Ministry on Saturday confirmed 76 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 2,679.
The new cases were recorded after 1,979 test kits were used across the country during the past 24 hours, the ministry said in a statement.
The new cases included 54 in the capital Baghdad, 17 in Basra, two in Anbar and one each in Maysan, Salahudin and Wasit, the statement said.
So far, up to 107 people have died from the disease in Iraq, while 1,702 have recovered, it added.
Meanwhile, lawmaker Jawad al-Musawi, a member of the parliamentary crisis committee to follow up the outbreak of coronavirus, said in a statement that the committee is demanding re-imposing the full curfew for 14 days to contain the disease.
"People did not abide by the health authorities and we must return to the complete curfew for 14 days during the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan and the days of Eid al-Fitr," al-Musawi said.
Israel reported 18 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the lowest daily increase since March 12 when 12 new patients were added.
The Israeli Ministry of Health said in a statement that the total cases of coronavirus infections in the country rose to 16,454, while death toll climbed from 245 to 247.
The number of patients in serious condition increased from 78 to 79, out of 241 patients currently hospitalized.
Also, the number of recoveries in Israel increased by 147 since Friday evening to 11,376.
Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Sunday the government is looking to lift the state of emergency in “many of 34 prefectures” that are not among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic before the nationwide deadline of May 31.
Nishimura, who is in charge of the government’s overall coronavirus response, said a declining trend in the weekly number of new infections and the number of new cases on a per capita basis will be among evaluation criteria for the lifting.
Out of Japan’s 47 prefectures, the government has designated 13 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka where the virus has spread rapidly as “the prefectures under specific cautions”.
Nishimura said some of the 13 prefectures could also be among the areas to be brought out of lockdown measures before the deadline.
About 15,777 coronavirus infections and 624 deaths have been confirmed in the country as of Sunday, excluding cases from a cruise ship previously quarantined in Yokohama, according to NHK.
Malaysia’s government extended the time frame for movement and business curbs by another four weeks to June 9, amid a gradual reopening of economic activity stunted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, businesses were allowed to resume business as usual, albeit under strict health guidelines, after having to close shop for two months as health authorities worked to contain the pandemic. Malaysia has so far reported 6,589 cases with 108 deaths.
New Zealand reported two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 overnight as the country is preparing for a possible downgrade of COVID-19 Alert Level, the Ministry of Health said on Sunday.
One case is a household contact of an earlier case linked to an Auckland aged care facility, where there was a cluster outbreak. The second case is a person who travelled back from overseas.
The combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 1,494, including 1,144 confirmed cases. Currently, there are 1,371 people being recovered from COVID-19, while only two people are in hospital, reported the Ministry of Health.
The Philippines reported 184 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 10,794.
In a statement, the Department of Health (DOH) said a total of 1,924 patients have recovered from the highly infectious disease after recording 82 new survivors.
It said 15 more patients have died from complications related to COVID-19, pushing the country's coronavirus death toll to 719.
The DOH said 77 cases, or 42 percent of the daily cases, were reported in Metro Manila, 75 cases, or 41 percent, in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines, while 32 cases, or 17 percent, were reported from other parts of the country.
Singapore registered 876 new coronavirus infections, its health ministry said on Sunday, taking the city-state’s total to 23,336 cases.
The vast majority of the newly infected people are migrant workers living in dormitories, the health ministry said in a statement. Three are permanent residents.
South Korea reported 34 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest daily number in a month, after a small outbreak emerged around a slew of nightclubs that a confirmed patient had visited.
Of the new cases, 26 were domestically transmitted infections and eight were imported cases, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
Sunday’s total was the highest since April 9. After battling the first major epidemic outside China, South Korea posted zero or very few domestic cases over the past 10 days, with the daily tally hovering around 10 or less in recent weeks.
The resurgence followed a small but growing coronavirus outbreak centred around a handful of Seoul nightclubs, which a man in his late 20s had visited before testing positive for the virus.
The outbreak prompted Seoul city to impose an immediate temporary shutdown of all nightly entertainment facilities on Saturday.
The outbreak came just as South Korea has eased some social distancing restrictions and is seeking to fully reopen schools and businesses in line with a transition from an intensive social distancing campaign to what it calls “distancing in daily life.”
Thailand reported five new coronavirus cases but no deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to 3,009 cases and 56 deaths since the outbreak started in the country in January.
However, there are four more infected people from the resort island of Phuket, who will be included in figures to be reported on Monday, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
Of the new cases reported on Sunday, two were linked to previous cases and three had travelled abroad, he said.
Slowing numbers of new cases have prompted Thailand to allow some businesses to reopen after weeks of semi-lockdown.
People wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus, walk just hours before the start of a two-day curfew declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, May 8, 2020. (BURHAN OZBILICI / AP)
Turkey on Saturday confirmed 1,546 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number in the country to 137,115.
Meanwhile, the deaths from the coronavirus reached 3,739 after 50 new fatalities were added in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted.
Turkey conducted a total of 35,605 tests in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests to 1,334,411, the minister noted.
In addition, 89,480 patients have recovered from the virus, while 1,168 are still being treated at the intensive care units, and 628 intubated, he said.
READ MORE: Australia, New Zealand work to open borders to each other
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday announced 624 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 17,417.
UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention said in a statement that the new cases, including many nationalities, were all in a stable condition and receiving medical treatment.
In addition, 458 more patients made full recovery from the virus, taking the tally of the UAE's recoveries to 4,295, the ministry said.
It also confirmed 11 more deaths, pushing the country's death toll to 185.
The UAE was the first among the Gulf countries to report COVID-19 cases.
HONG KONG NEWS