Handful of new cases in South Korea and China as containment efforts pay off

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China and South Korea, which had early outbreaks of coronavirus, have together reported only four new infections and are slowly resuming public events after months of containment efforts.

South Korea’s three new cases represented the lowest daily jump in nearly three months.

More than 10,000 people have been infected in the nation’s outbreak, and over 250 have died.

As cases slow, South Korea will start reopening schools in phases next week, and its professional baseball league began its new season on Tuesday.

A TV cameraman walks through the spectators’ seats which are covered with pictures of fans before the start of a regular season baseball game between Hanwha Eagles and SK Wyverns in Incheon, South Korea
A TV cameraman walks through the spectators’ seats covered with pictures of fans before a baseball game in Incheon, South Korea (Lee Jin-man/AP)

Pictures were placed in the stands depicting absent fans, and the stadium was quiet enough to hear cheers and shouts from the dugout.

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In China, it has been three weeks since any new deaths have been reported in the country where the pandemic began in December.

Just one new case of infection was confirmed, and fewer than 400 patients are still being treated for Covid-19, health officials said.

Strict travel restrictions, testing, quarantining and case tracing policies appear to have stemmed the virus as warm weather arrives in much of the country.

Other places in the Asia-Pacific region have also had success in suppressing outbreaks, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, which has had zero new cases for two days.

But some countries such as India have escalating outbreaks, and experts say the country with its 1.3 billion population has yet to see its peak.

Meanwhile, the US was taking halting steps to lift some restrictions even as thousands of new cases continue to be reported each day.

Mercedes Mejia, left, and Coralia Hernandez pose for a selfie in front of the still-closed courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles
Mercedes Mejia, left, and Coralia Hernandez pose for a selfie in front of the still-closed courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles (Chris Pizzello/AP)

California governor Gavin Newsom, one of the first governors to impose a statewide stay-home order, announced that some businesses can reopen as early as Friday, with restrictions.

The moves to open US states come even as daily new infections continue to exceed 20,000 and daily deaths 1,000, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Governments around the world have reported 3.5 million infections and more than 251,000 deaths, including more than 68,000 deaths in the United States.

Deliberately concealed outbreaks, low testing rates and the severe strain the disease has placed on healthcare systems mean the true scale of the pandemic is undoubtedly much greater.

With pressure growing in many countries for more measures to restart the economy, politicians were trying to boost funding for research into a vaccine for Covid-19.

There are hopes one could be available in months, but many scientists warn it could take much longer.

An alliance of world leaders on Monday pledged to give 7.4 billion euros (£6.4 billion) for the effort, but the US and Russia were notably absent.

Countries in lockdown due to coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

The money raised will be channelled mostly through recognised global health organisations.

French president Emmanuel Macron said he was convinced the US would at some point join the initiative.

Carnival Cruise Line, which saw outbreaks on several ships, plans to start cruises again in August, leaving from Florida and Texas.

The Caribbean trips will be the company’s first since the pandemic forced a near-total pause in the cruise industry.

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