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China and South Korea report new spikes in coronavirus cases

The spikes have caused concerns about the implications of loosening restrictions.

A worker wearing protective gear cleans desks as South Korea prepares to reopen schools.
A worker wearing protective gear cleans desks as South Korea prepares to reopen schools.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

CHINA AND SOUTH Korea reported new spikes in coronavirus cases, setting off fresh concerns in countries where outbreaks had been in dramatic decline.

Worldwide, health officials are anxiously watching to see just how much infection rates rise in a second wave as nations and states emerge from varying degrees of lockdown.

China reported 14 new cases today, its first double-digit rise in 10 days.

Eleven of 12 domestic infections were in the northeastern province of Jilin, which prompted authorities to raise the threat level in one of its counties, Shulan, to high risk, just days after downgrading all regions to low risk.

Authorities said the Shulan outbreak originated with a 45-year-old woman who had no recent travel or exposure history but spread it to her husband, her three sisters and other family members.

Train services in the county were being suspended.

“Epidemic control and prevention is a serious and complicated matter, and local authorities should never be overly optimistic, war-weary or off-guard,” said the Jilin Communist Party secretary, Bayin Chaolu.

Jilin also shares a border with North Korea, which insists it has no virus cases, much to the disbelief of international health authorities.

South Korea reported 34 more cases as new infections linked to nightclub-goers threatens the country’s hard-won gains against the virus.

It was the first time that South Korea’s daily infections were above 30 in about a month.

President Moon Jae-in said citizens must neither panic nor let down their guard, but warned that “the damage to our economy is indeed colossal as well”.

virus-outbreak-south-korea South Korea has advised nightclubs and similar entertainment venues to close for a month after linking more than a dozen new coronavirus infections to clubgoers in the Seoul. Source: AP/PA Images

Germany

Across Europe, many states are easing lockdowns even as they prepare to clamp down on any new infections.

Germany, which managed to push daily new infections below 1,000 before deciding to loosen restrictions, has seen regional spikes in cases linked to slaughterhouses and nursing homes.

By Saturday, the country’s public health authority said new infections were above 1,000 again.

German officials have expressed concerns about the growing number of large demonstrations, including one in the southwestern city of Stuttgart that drew thousands of participants.

Police in Berlin stepped in yesterday after hundreds of people failed to respect social distancing measures at anti-lockdown rallies in the German capital.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states last week cleared the way for restaurants, hotels and remaining stores to reopen.

The country’s football league resumes next week, despite a number of professional players testing positive for Covid-19, and more students are returning to school beginning tomorrow.

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