Covid-19 wrap: Virus resurges in South Korea and China, record infections in Russia spur Putin to act

Keeping you up to date on the latest novel coronavirus (Covid-19) news from around the world.

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New nightlife cluster causes spike in South Korea virus cases

Seoul – South Korea announced its highest number of new coronavirus cases in more than a month on Monday, driven by a cluster in a Seoul nightlife district that emerged just as the country loosens restrictions.

The nation has been held up as a global model in how to curb the virus, but over the weekend its capital – as well as neighbouring Gyeonggi province and the nearby city of Incheon – ordered the closure of all clubs and bars after a burst of new cases sparked fears of a second wave.

South Korean officials reported 35 new cases on Monday, taking its total to 10 909, after recording only single-digit increases for eight of the preceding 12 days – many of them overseas arrivals. But as of noon on Monday, a total of 86 cases had been linked to the new nightlife cluster, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Health officials are struggling to trace "thousands of people" who went to clubs and bars in Itaewon, said Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun.

 - AFP

China's ground zero reports virus infections

Beijing – China reported a new cluster of coronavirus cases in Wuhan on Monday after a month without fresh infections at the pandemic's global epicentre, as a northeastern city was placed under lockdown.

The cases added to fears China could be facing a new wave of infections, even as restrictions continued to ease in some other parts of the country.

Five new infections were confirmed in one residential district of Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus was initially detected late last year and which emerged from its own lockdown roughly four weeks ago, following dramatically dwindling numbers.

Authorities also issued stay-at-home orders and travel bans in Shulan, a city of around 670 000 people in northeastern China, after three new infections were confirmed there.

 - AFP

Putin to address Russians as country sets new daily virus record

Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin will address the nation about the coronavirus on Monday, as a new record of daily confirmed infections was set and number of deaths surpassed 2 000.

Putin will speak about the deadly pandemic and measures to support the Russian economy, the Kremlin said in a statement. He is expected to announce a decision on the current national lockdown, which is due to start easing on Tuesday.

According to the official coronavirus data website set up by the Russian government, 11 656 people tested positive in the last 24 hours, with the total now at 221 344.

Russian officials say the number of cases is down to rigorous testing, with 5.6 million tests completed to date and almost half of people with coronavirus showing no symptoms.

 - AFP

Analysis finds lower skill workers in England dying more from virus

London – Lower skilled workers in parts of Britain appear at greater risk of dying from coronavirus than white collar employees, according to an analysis of official figures published on Monday.

The finding by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday that construction and manufacturing workers could return to work, but recommended office staff still work from home.

The move is the first change to a seven-week-old nationwide lockdown introduced to curb the spread of the virus, which the government hopes to introduce in phases.

The ONS reviewed nearly 2 500 deaths in England and Wales linked to Covid-19 up to 20 April and discovered "men working in the lowest skilled occupations had the highest rate of death".

"This analysis does not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving Covid-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure," it said. "We adjusted for age, but not for other factors such as ethnic group and place of residence."

 - AFP

India cases jump

India saw its biggest single day jump in coronavirus cases, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to meet with state leaders to discuss how to gradually exit the lockdown.

The health ministry reported 4 213 new infections. Nationwide, there have been almost 70 000 cases, with more than 2 000 deaths confirmed.

Despite the increase, Modi is expected to discuss with state leaders later on Monday how to gradually exit the lockdown and boost the flagging economy. India was due to lift the shutdown on 17 May.

 - AFP

Singapore converts horse-racing grounds to house infected people

One of Singapore's horse-racing clubs will convert parts of its grounds to house mild cases of coronavirus-infected migrant workers.

Although such workers form the majority of the city-state's 23 000 cases, many do not require hospitalisation. Many are currently being housed in community care facilities, rather than their crowded dormitories.

The Singapore Turf Club, which operates and manages the racecourse, said parts of the facility will be converted so workers can be temporarily housed and relieve pressure on hospitals.

 - AFP

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