Coronavirus infections grow slower in China, spike in South Korea

China lung air disease

 China has reported a slowdown in new coronavirus infections over the past day, while new cases in South Korea jumped higher again to over 5,000, health authorities said on Tuesday.

China’s National Health Commission counted 125 new coronavirus cases in the past day the lowest number since January 20.

Meanwhile, there were 31 new deaths from the disease, bringing up the country’s death toll to 2,943 with 80,151 infections.

South Korea, on the other hand, saw another leap in cases of the virus, with 800 new infections bringing the total to 5,186, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The death toll rose to 31.

Most of the South Korean cases are concentrated in the south-eastern city of Daegu and the surrounding North Gyeongsang province.

The majority are linked to followers of a Christian sect. On Monday, the leader of the sect, Lee Man Hee, publicly apologised for the spread of the virus.

President Moon Jae In said on Tuesday that South Korea has begun a war against the virus, according to the country’s Yonhap news agency.

“The crisis in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province reached its peak, and the whole country has entered a war against the infectious disease,’’ Yonhap quoted Moon as saying.

He announced 25 billion dollars in funds for the virus response, according to the news agency.

Local authorities in Beijing and the southern province of Guangzhou announced that travellers from countries with high numbers of coronavirus infections would be required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

The Philippines said it was easing travel restrictions to South Korea, allowing Filipinos to visit there, except for the North Gyeongsang province, where the new coronavirus outbreak is concentrated.

“All Filipinos who intend to visit other parts of South Korea shall execute and sign a declaration, signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in their trip,’’ presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

He added that a ban on the entry of foreign nationals travelling from North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County, into Philippine territory remained effective.

There is so far no local transmission of the coronavirus in the Philippines, where three confirmed cases were all Chinese visitors. One of the patients died.

Indonesia announced it would build a hospital to treat patients infected with the new coronavirus on an island near Singapore.

In Malaysia, the Central Bank cut interest rates for the second time in a row, to 2.5 per cent.

The cut came less than a week after the government announced a 4.75 billion dollar stimulus plan aimed at countering the economic impact of the virus.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has arranged four chartered flights to repatriate citizens from around Wuhan, according to the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam.

She said 533 residents had been stranded for months in the afflicted area, while local authorities have wrestled to contain the outbreak.

In a sign of the coronavirus’ impact on the tourism industry, Scandinavian carrier SAS announced it was suspending flights to Hong Kong as of Thursday, citing lower demand for international travel.(dpa/NAN)


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