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South Korea reports lowest number of new cases

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Image copyright EPA Image caption people in Seoul have been disinfecting their own neighbourhoods South Korea has reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases since infection rates peaked four weeks ago, fuelling hope Asia’s worst outbreak outside China may be abating.The country recorded 64 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, taking…

Local residents spray disinfectant in their neighbourhood as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak, in Seoul, South Korea, 23 March 2020Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

people in Seoul have been disinfecting their own neighbourhoods

South Korea has reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases since infection rates peaked four weeks ago, fuelling hope Asia’s worst outbreak outside China may be abating.

The country recorded 64 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 8,961 with 111 deaths.

But health officials warn against complacency, saying the country still faces a long war against the infection.

Southern Europe is currently at the centre of the pandemic.

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Italy reported 651 new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total there to 5,476, while Spain recorded 394 deaths for a total of 1,720.

In New York, the city mayor warned of a worsening outbreak, with damage accelerated by shortages of key medical supplies.

And the expectation that the battle against the virus will be a long one was reinforced by news from Japan that its prime minister has admitted for the first time that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games could be postponed.

Why is South Korea fearing a new wave?

The country has seen two waves of infections, Yonhap news agency reports, the first beginning on 20 January with the first confirmed case, and the second with mass infections among a religious group.

Now there are fears that imported cases could fuel a third wave.

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The government plans to install around 20 phone booth-style test facilities inside Incheon Airport to speed up the process of testing all arrivals from Europe.

The new entry procedures started on Sunday. So far 152 people have arrived in the country showing symptoms of the virus and they are awaiting their test results.

In other action, the government sent out emergency alerts at the weekend urging people to stay away from places which encourage mass gatherings such as churches, karaoke rooms, nightclubs and gyms.

It also asked religious leaders to check the temperature of followers and keep them at least two metres apart during any services they deemed necessary.

A number of churches are now facing legal action after violating the guidelines.

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