Increasing cases of Covid in Asia are raising alarm and could prompt harsh new measures, months after many of the countries were hailed for tackling the pandemic.
South Korea, which has been heralded as the model for managing the crisis, reported 386 new daily cases on Saturday.
The resurgence could force authorities to re-impose tighter restrictions on social distance after loosening them in October to boost a faltering economy.
Fans wearing face masks pile into a baseball game in South Korea, despite fears of rising infection rates
A participant stands in a sterilizer as a precaution against the virus when he arrives for a defense expo in Goyang, South Korea
The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency increased the total number of confirmed cases to 30,403, including 503 deaths.
More than 270 of the new cases are from the Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers struggle to track transmissions in schools, private further schools and religious institutions.
Infections have also been reported in other major cities, including Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju and Asan.
South Korea has so far managed to weather the pandemic without major lockdowns, relying instead on an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign and wearing masks.
The country, often billed as the model for managing the crisis, reported 386 new daily cases on Saturday
Officials relaxed measures to distance themselves from the October lowest, allowing risky venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and fans returning to professional sports.
But the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases said the country could report more than 1,000 new infections per day within a week or two if social distance measures are not effectively reinforced.
“Covid-19 transmissions are happening simultaneously in large numbers across the country, and in some regions, the rate of infections has already overwhelmed local contact tracing capabilities,” said the physician group.
Meanwhile, in Japan, the government-backed GoTo campaign to encourage travel and dining out is being scaled back.
In Japan, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases hit a record high for the third day in a row on Saturday, at 2,418
Japan has never had a total lockdown and has had less than 2,000 deaths related to the coronavirus so far
It came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases hit a record high for the third day in a row on Saturday, at 2,418.
Russia announces record cases for the fourth time in a week
Russia reports a new daily high in the number of infections and deaths from the corona virus.
The National Coronavirus Task Force said 24,822 new cases were registered in the past day, the fourth time in a week that a new record has been set.
It said a record 467 people died of Covid-19.
The rise in infections is putting pressure on Russia’s massive but underfunded healthcare system, with many infected people reportedly forced to search for scarce hospital beds.
In total, Russia has recorded more than 2,064,000 cases and 35,778 deaths.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the decision to a government panel on measures for coronavirus pandemics.
He stressed the need for ‘extreme caution’ and said the campaign’s travel discounts no longer apply to hard-hit areas and that dining out discounts will be temporarily discontinued.
Japan has never had a total lockdown and has had fewer than 2,000 deaths related to the coronavirus so far.
But concerns have grown over a spike in infections over the three-day weekend of the National Day, Labor Thanksgiving, on Monday.
India, a constant hotspot for the virus, reported 46,232 new cases today, with the situation being particularly worrying in New Delhi.
Intensive care units and the capital’s main crematorium are nearly full, and health officials this week found that the prevalence of infections in markets is much higher than expected.
The city has added an average of 6,700 cases per day in recent weeks.
The Health Ministry also recorded 564 deaths in the past 24 hours on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 132,726.
India hit a stark milestone Friday, passing nine million infections, the second highest after the US.
Meanwhile, China has begun mass testing on 3 million people in part of the northern city of Tianjin, and has tested 4,015 others at a hospital in Shanghai after discovering a few cases there.
A health worker takes a nasal swab in New Delhi, while India has endured a total of 9 million infections
The National Health Commission registered seven new domestically transmitted cases on Saturday, including five in Tianjin and two in Shanghai.
Tianjin reported on Friday a community transmission involving four different individuals and another case. In response, local authorities closed off the residential community where the people lived, as well as a hospital and a day care center.
According to the local government’s social media page, authorities began testing all residents of Tianjin’s Binhai district on Saturday.
Authorities in Shanghai shut down a hospital after a man and woman tested positive for the virus Friday night. The total number of confirmed cases in China is now 86,414.
Air bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong postponed
Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble to boost tourism for both cities amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.
The bubble, which was originally scheduled to start on Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s Trade and Economic Development Minister Edward Yau said at a news conference.
The scheme aims to enable visitors to travel between the two cities without being quarantined, as long as they complete coronavirus testing before and after arriving at their destination and flying on designated flights.
Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 untraceable local infections.
Mr. Yau said: “For a plan to succeed, they must meet the condition of ensuring public health and also ensure that both parties feel comfortable and safe with the plan. Given the situation in Hong Kong, I think this is the responsible way to put this back for a while and then relaunch it at an appropriate time. ‘
Under the original agreement, the travel bubble would be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in Singapore or Hong Kong exceeds five on a seven-day moving average. The current average of unlinked cases in Hong Kong is nearly four.
While the average of five was not reached in Hong Kong, the bubble was shelved after Mr Yau and Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung held talks on Saturday.
Ahead of the postponement, Singapore said travelers arriving from Hong Kong through the bubble will need to undergo a coronavirus test upon arrival. Originally, only people landing in Hong Kong were to be tested.
Mr Ong said in a Facebook post that the postponement is a “sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us.” I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travelers who have planned their trips. But we think it’s better to procrastinate from a public health point of view, ‘wrote Mr Ong.