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South Korean casesSouth Korea’s epidemic is centered in its fourth-largest city, Daegu, whose streets have been largely deserted for days, apart from long queues at the few shops with masks for sale.Three women in the Daegu area died of the illness, taking the national toll to 16, authorities said Saturday.South Korea’s total is expected to rise further with screening of more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive entity often accused of being a cult that is linked to around half of the country’s cases.While China reported 47 more deaths on Saturday, it recorded fewer new cases than South Korea, with 427 infections.South Korean officials say they are not considering a citywide quarantine for Daegu similar to the lockdown imposed on the central Chinese city of Wuhan.In Iran, unnamed health system sources told the BBC that at least 210 people had died of the coronavirus — far beyond the official death toll of 34, but a health ministry spokesman angrily denied that figure. South Korea reported on Saturday its biggest surge in new coronavirus cases and concerns grew of a possible epidemic in the United States as the World Health Organization raised its risk alert to its highest level.The virus has rapidly spread across the world over the past week, causing stock markets to sink to their lowest levels since the 2008 global financial crisis over fears that the disease could wreak havoc on the world economy.More than 2,900 people have died and over 85,000 have been infected worldwide since it emerged apparently from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December. The vast majority of infections have been in China but more daily cases are now logged outside the country, with South Korea, Italy and Iran emerging as major focal points.South Korea has the most cases outside China, with nearly 3,000 infections as 594 more patients were reported on Saturday — the country’s biggest increase to date.In neighboring North Korea, the country’s leader Kim Jong Un warned top party officials of the “serious consequences” of failing to prevent an outbreak of the new coronavirus on their side of the border.The impoverished nation, with a weak and ill-equipped healthcare system, has closed its borders to prevent the spread of the disease into its territory. Topics : The virus has also spread to new zones — in the past 24 hours, it has affected nine new countries, from Azerbaijan to Mexico and New Zealand after reaching sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria reporting its first case.”We have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Friday.”We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities. As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this virus.”But California health officials confirmed a second suspected US case of the new coronavirus transmitted to a person who did not travel overseas or come in contact with anyone known to be ill, prompting fears of a possible outbreak in the United States.”This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear,” said Sara Cody, director of public health for Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley where tech giants like Apple and Google are based.”What we know now is that the virus is here, present at some level, but we still don’t know to what degree.” Economy, events hit US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the central bank stood at the ready to intervene if needed, given the “evolving” risks to the world’s largest economy posed by the outbreak.Official data released in China on Saturday showed the extent of the damage caused to the world’s second-largest economy, with manufacturing activity falling to its lowest level on record in February as key industries ground to a standstill under drastic containment measures.More global events were disrupted due to the epidemic, with the United States delaying a regional summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) due in Las Vegas next month.”This is not a time for panic. It is time to be prepared — fully prepared,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.Those efforts come as the number of deaths and new infections has been tapering off in China, following unprecedented quarantine efforts locking down tens of millions of people in the worst-hit cities.But they have kept rising abroad. read more
Topics : France’s new COVID-19 infections surged by almost 50% in August, which recorded the highest monthly tally since the beginning of the outbreak earlier this year, while hospitalizations for the disease seem to be creeping up again.The country’s health authorities reported 3,082 additional cases over the past 24 hours, sharply down from a caseload of above 5,000 each on the two previous days, but the Monday figure always tends to dip as there are less tests conducted on Sundays.The seven-day moving average of new infections, which smoothes out reporting irregularities, stood at 5,167, reaching a new record for a fourth day in a row, versus a low of 272 on May 27, two weeks after the country ended its two-month long lockdown. The number of people in hospital for the disease has declined by 14% in August versus July as the virus is now mainly circulating among young people, who typically do not develop serious symptoms.But that figure has risen for the second day running on Monday, at 4,582, after going down for almost two weeks. And the number of people in intensive care units was up for a fourth day in a row, at 409.Those figures are still very low compared to their respective peaks of 32,292 and 7,148 seen in April but health experts are following the trends closely.France reported 29 new deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, meaning the average daily fatalities fell to a new low of 12 in August, versus 14 in July and of peak of 695 in April. France’s cumulative total of COVID-19 infections has reached 281,025 versus 187,919 at the end of July. In August, new cases increased on average by a record 3,003 every day, a figure four times higher than July’s average increase of 746 per day.The surge of new cases has led authorities to re-impose some containment measures, such as making face masks mandatory in the streets, shops and public transportation of almost all the country’s main cities.And, as of Tuesday, masks will also be compulsory in workplaces.But, as the new school year starts this week, French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex have been saying they will do everything to avoid a new national lockdown. read more