South Korea reports fewest new COVID-19 cases since Feb 29 peak

SEOUL: South Korea on Monday (Mar 23) reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since the peak so far on Feb 29 and the extended downward trend in daily infections has boosted hopes that Asia’s largest outbreak outside China may be abating.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said there were 64 new cases on Monday, taking the national tally to 8,961. The death toll rose by one to 110.

The new numbers extend a downward trend, marking the 12th day in a row the country has posted new infections of around 100 or fewer, compared with the peak of 909 cases recorded on Feb 29.

In contrast, 257 patients were released from hospitals where they had been isolated for treatment, the KCDC said. South Korea posted more recoveries than new infections on Mar 13 for the first time since its first case was confirmed on Jan 20.

Authorities have urged South Koreans to stay home and maintain social distancing, as imported cases and new outbreaks around small clusters continued to emerge while an overall tally in new infections has been declining.

Restrictions on high-risk events such as religious, sports and entertainment gatherings took effect on Sunday, requiring facilities to ensure space between the attendees and allowing local governments to conduct on-site checks and issue fines.

READ: South Korean churchgoers scuffle with police as COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings kick in

From Australia’s Bondi Beach to the streets of New Delhi, authorities across the Asia-Pacific region have ramped up efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 amid fears of a second wave of infections in places where outbreaks had appeared under control.

Tighter travel restrictions were imposed in several countries as the number of cases in the region soared past 95,000 – a third of the world’s infections, an AFP tally shows.

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