South Korea has been struggling to contain a spike in virus transmissions since early May, when it eased social distancing rules. Most of the new cases have been reported in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live.
The new cases have been linked to nightlife establishments, church services, a big e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door salespeople.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— China’s capital has recorded a further drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases as tightened measures to contain the spread remain in place. Officials reported 22 new cases in Beijing on Saturday, along with five others elsewhere in the country. No new deaths were reported and 308 people remain hospitalized. One of the Beijing cases is a nurse at a hospital in the suburban Changping district. The Peking University International Hospital where she worked is now under tightened restrictions, along with residential communities in the surrounding area. A total of 205 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Beijing since the outbreak began last week, with at least two of them critically ill and 11 others in serious condition.
— Australia’s Victoria state is set to reimpose household restrictions on Monday after recording double-digit increases in COVID-19 cases for a fourth consecutive day. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews says household gatherings will be restricted to five guests and outdoor gatherings to 10 people until midnight July 12. Victoria recorded 25 new cases on Saturday, the biggest daily increase in two months. The planned easing of restrictions for cafes, restaurants and pubs, from a maximum of 20 guests to a maximum of 50, will be deferred for three weeks. Businesses that are set to open for the first time Monday, including gyms and cinemas, will be allowed to do so but with a maximum of 20 people.
— The coronavirus outbreak in China has seen as surge in online shopping, with nearly 4.7 billion packages delivered by postal and courier companies during a mid-year shopping spree, up more than 48% from last year, according to the post office. E-commerce companies such as Alibaba and JD.com have offered major promotions to turn June 1-18 into a shopping festival. China’s highly developed online retail and delivery services have been major beneficiaries during the pandemic while brick-and-mortar stores have been largely shut or forced to limit the number of customers.
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