TOP OF THE HOUR: — Risks complicate reopenings as WHO warns 1st wave not over. — India reports biggest jump in virus cases for 7th straight day. — South Korean rights groups criticize smartphone anti-virus plans.
— Philippines trying to ease quarantine congestion.
For a seventh consecutive day, India has reported its biggest jump in coronavirus cases.
The country’s health ministry reported 145,380 new infections, an increase of 6,535 from the day before, and 4,167 deaths.
Most of the cases are concentrated in two neighboring states in central India, Maharashtra, home to financial hub Mumbai, and Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. An uptick in cases has also been reported in some of India’s poorest eastern states as migrant workers returning to native villages from India’s largest cities have begun arriving home on special trains.
India’s virus caseload has been climbing as lockdown restrictions have eased. Domestic flights resumed Monday after a two-month hiatus, though at a fraction of normal.
SEOUL, South Korea
South Korean rights groups have criticized government plans to require some businesses to register their customers with smartphone QR codes as part of new anti-virus measures.
They say the country’s technology-driven approach to COVID-19 has reached a point where an increase in state surveillance powers is a legitimate concern. South Korea’s Health Ministry has said beginning in June “high-risk” businesses such as bars, nightclubs, gyms, karaoke rooms and concert halls will be required to use QR codes to register their customers so they could be found more easily when transmissions occur.
In a joint statement Tuesday, groups including privacy watchdog Jinbo Net said such a move would be excessive.
Tensions are rising between federal and state leaders in Australia over differing approaches to lifting pandemic restrictions.
Australia recorded nine new coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period. The nation has reported 7,118 infections, and 102 deaths.
Nearby neighbor New Zealand has had similar success in slowing the virus spread. New Zealand has gone four days without detecting a new infection and has recorded a single new case in the past week.
New Zealand has treated 1,504 cases, including 21 deaths.
Australia’s population is five times larger than New Zealand’s 5 million people.
The Philippine president has ordered about 24,000 workers who have lost their jobs abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be transported by land, sea or air to their provincial homes and warned local officials not to refuse them entry.
The workers returned to the country in recent months but had to undergo two weeks of quarantine in hospitals, hotels and makeshift isolation centers in metropolitan Manila in a chaotic situation that delayed their trip home and sparked a myriad of complaints. Some had to wait weeks to be tested for the coronavirus and receive results.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in televised remarks Monday night that some provincial officials have refused entry to returning workers from abroad as a precaution and warned them of possible lawsuits. Authorities have been scrambling to unclog quarantine facilities in the capital with about 300,000 more displaced Filipino workers slated to come home soon.
“I’m ordering you to accept them, open the gates of your territories,” Duterte said. “Do not impede it. Do not obstruct the movement of people because you run the risk of getting sued criminally.”
Thousands of workers who have tested negative for the virus began boarding buses, ships and planes back to their provinces on Monday in homecomings that are expected to be completed in a week.
SEOUL, South Korea
South Korea has reported 19 new cases of the coronavirus, most from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where officials have been actively tracing transmissions linked to nightclubs and other entertainment venues.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday also reported two more deaths, bringing national totals to 11,225 cases and 269 fatalities. Officials linked three of the new cases to international arrivals.
South Korea has been reporting around 20 new cases per day over the past two weeks after health workers found hundreds of infections linked to club goers who went out in early May as the country eased social distancing measures.
The new infections in the greater capital area have caused concern as authorities proceed with a phased reopening of schools, which began with high school seniors last week.
Around 2.4 million high school juniors, middle school seniors, first and second graders and kindergarten students will be returning to school on Wednesday.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo urged school officials to double check their preventive measures. He called for authorities to strengthen monitoring on some 390,000 undocumented foreign nationals who may have poor access to medical services and tests, but related measures weren’t immediately announced.
China reported seven new coronavirus cases Tuesday, all brought into the country by Chinese citizens returning from abroad.
Just 81 patients remain hospitalized with COVID-19, and another 408 are in isolation and being monitored for either suspected cases or after testing positive for the virus without showing any symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from the disease among 82,992 cases.
With the decline in numbers, students have gradually returned to class and some international schools in the capital Beijing are preparing to re-open on June 1. China is proceeding this week with the annual session of its ceremonial parliament, which is being held under social distancing restrictions.
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