SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 25 new cases of the coronavirus and three more virus-related deaths, bringing its totals to 10,537 infections and 217 fatalities.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said at least 929 cases were linked to passengers arriving from abroad, with most of them detected over the past three weeks.
South Korea’s caseload has slowed from early March, when it was reporting around 500 new cases a day, but officials have raised concerns over a broader “quiet spread,” pointing to transmissions at bars and other leisure facilities that supposedly indicate eased attitudes toward social distancing.
South Korean Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun during a meeting on anti-virus strategies on Monday said officials are discussing new public guidelines that would allow for people to engage in “certain levels of economic and social activity” while also maintaining distance to slow the spread of the virus.
China’s foreign ministry says it is working with authorities in the southern province of Guangdong to prevent discriminatory treatment toward people of African heritage amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The statement issued Sunday followed a letter of caution from the U.S. Embassy that police in the province have ordered bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appear to be of African origin and that some hotels and companies have refused to do business with them.
“Moreover, local officials launched a round of mandatory tests for COVID-19, followed by mandatory self-quarantine, for anyone with ‘African contacts,’ regardless of recent travel history or previous quarantine completion,” the notice from the Embassy said. It urged those with African backgrounds to especially avoid the provincial capital of Guangzhou, which has a large African population of migrant traders.
In its statement, the foreign ministry said all foreigners were treated equally during the outbreak and the government had “zero tolerance for discrimination.”
Authorities in Guangdong were “working promptly to improve their working method,” the ministry said.
“African friends can count on getting fair, just, cordial and friendly reception in China. The foreign ministry will stay in close communication with the Guangdong authorities and continue responding to the African side’s reasonable concerns and legitimate appeals,” the statement said.
One mask producer in Wuhan, China says it is rushing to fill orders from overseas while facing stricter quality inspections from Chinese regulators.
Wuhan Zonsen, which makes masks and disinfection wipes, says $50 million in orders from European countries and the United States will keep them at full production capacity until June.
“Now the major demand of masks comes from European countries and the US where the epidemic is severe … their demand now has increased to 10 times than before because of the epidemic,” said Cynthia Ye, global marketing manager of Zonsen.
Zonsen plans to add another five production lines to increase their daily production from 200,000 to 700,000 masks, Zonsen’s production managers told reporters during a media tour organized by Wuhan government.
Chinese customs have announced that ventilators, masks and other supplies being exported to fight the coronavirus will be subject to quality inspections following complaints that substandard goods were being sold abroad. Regulators in Australia, the Netherlands and other countries have complained that masks, virus test kits and other products were faulty or failed to meet quality standards.
Ye denied there are any quality issues with the masks they had shipped to Netherlands.
Wuhan on Wednesday ended its 76-day lockdown, allowing residents to again travel in and out of the city. Wuhan and China are expected to suffer severe economic costs and tens of millions of job losses from the city closure.
Ye said the government of Xinzhou district, where Zonsen is located, offered aid to meet the company’s demand for workers. Now more than 60 employees are back to work and live together in a designated hotel to avoid infection.
“We have to provide hotel rooms for the workers so we have more cost, which is about five to 10 times of our normal cost. The salary for workers is about three or five times of their normal one,” said Ye.
The overall death toll in France from the coronavirus has risen to nearly 14,400, but for the fourth day in a row, slightly fewer people were admitted into intensive care — 35 fewer — giving health officials a reason to grasp for good news.
Sunday’s statistics issued by the Health Ministry confirm the country is reaching a “very high plateau” and reflect initial signs that nearly four weeks of confinement and the “drastic reduction in contacts” are producing an effect, a statement said.
Strict confinement measures began March 17, were renewed once and are expected to be extended again, with a likely announcement to the nation Monday by President Emmanuel Macron.
Since March 1, hospitals and nursing homes have counted 14,393 deaths.
Of the 31,836 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, more than 1,600 were admitted in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.
Still, with more than 6,800 patients being treated in intensive care Sunday, that was 35 people fewer than a day earlier, a ray of hope for overworked health workers and authorities looking for small signs of change.
Since the start of the epidemic in France, more than 95,400 people have been infected.
Italy recorded the lowest number of new coronavirus deaths in three weeks, saying 431 people died in the past day to bring its total to 19,899.
It was the lowest day-to-day toll since March 19.
For the ninth day running, intensive care admissions were down and hospitalizations overall were down, relieving pressure on Italy’s over-stressed health care system.
More than 4,000 people tested positive as Italy began its fifth week under nationwide lockdown, continuing a general flattening in its infection curve.
But officials have noted that Italy has also increased its testing capacity in recent days, yielding more positive cases but allowing for more effective quarantine measures for people once they know they are infected.
Italy crossed the 1 million virus test mark on Sunday, doubling the number of tests since the end of March. Overall, 156,363 people have been confirmed as positive, though officials note that the true number of infected could be as much as 10 times that, particularly in hard-hit Lombardy.
Officials have also warned that the true number of dead from the virus pandemic is higher, given the hundreds of elderly who have died in nursing homes but were never tested.
Hospital officials say Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, a former chief rabbi of Israel, has died from COVID-19.
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center said Bakshi-Doron died late Sunday, several days after he was admitted to the hospital with the coronavirus. It said he had suffered from underlying health problems. Israeli media said Bakshi-Doron was 79.
Bakshi-Doron served as Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi, representing Jews of Middle Eastern ancestry, from 1993 to 2003. He held a number of other key roles, including the head of Israel’s rabbinic court system, and was active in interfaith causes.
In 2017, he was fined and sentenced to probation for his role in a scheme that allowed policemen to receive fraudulent educational credentials that enabled them to obtain pay raises. He remained a popular and respected figure with much of the public.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remembered Bakshi-Doron as a warm person and a gifted religious scholar. “His essence was wisdom, tolerance and love for the people and the country,” he said.
Israel has reported more than 11,000 cases of the coronavirus, and 104 deaths. Israel’s ultra-Orthodox religious community has been especially hard hit.