South Korea was reporting hundreds of new cases a day in late February and early March following a major surge surrounding the southeast city of Daegu, where the majority of infections were linked to a single church congregation with thousands of members.
But while health authorities had used aggressive testing and contact tracing to contain the outbreak in that region, they are having a much harder time tracking recent transmissions in the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live. With people increasingly venturing out in the public, new clusters are popping out from just about everywhere, including nightspots, churches, restaurants, warehouses and among door-to-door salespeople.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo during a briefing Sunday afternoon announced that the government is prepared to implement stronger social distancing measures if the epidemic continues to grow. He said the strongest measures -- including banning all gatherings of more than 10 people, shutting schools, halting professional sports, and restricting operations of non-essential businesses -- will be enforced if the daily increase in infections doubles more than two times during a span of a week.
China on Monday reported a further decline in new confirmed cases of COVID-19, with a total of just 12, including seven cases of domestic transmission in Beijing, where nearly 8.3 million people have now undergone testing in recent weeks. The number of new cases in the city was down by half from the day before, the National Health Commission reported.
No new deaths were reported Monday, leaving the total at 4,634 among 83,512 confirmed cases of COVID-19, . Currently 418 patients are in treatment, and another 112 are under observation for being suspected cases or for testing positive without showing any symptoms.
Beijing temporarily shut a huge wholesale food market where the virus spread widely earlier this month, re-closed schools and locked down some neighborhoods. Anyone leaving Beijing is required to have a negative virus test result procured within the previous seven days.
About 7.69 million results on people tested in Beijing have been returned, city official Zhang Qiang said Sunday. Beijing has more than 20 million people but authorities have focused so far on high risk groups such as people working in the food and salon industry and those living in areas where cases have been discovered.
SANTA FE, N.M.
Health officials in New Mexico reported 192 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday with one additional death. That raises the state’s totals to 11,809 confirmed cases with at least 492 known deaths. The bulk of the reported additional cases were in Bernalillo County (45) San Juan County (34), McKinley County (28) and Dona Ana County (27).
Health authorities are using what they describe as a world-first saliva test for coronavirus in Australia’s second-largest city where the disease is spreading at an alarming rate.
Officials say 49 people tested positive to COVID-19 in Melbourne on Sunday and only four cases were detected elsewhere in Australia.
Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday the saliva test was being rolled out in Victoria state, where Melbourne is the capital, and its effectiveness was still being tested.
Coatsworth said the less-comfortable nasal test remained the preferred option and may be more accurate, but the saliva test “will be great, particularly for kids.”
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said authorities were close to losing control of the spread while pandemic restrictions were easing elsewhere in Australia.
“l think it’s a genuine challenge now. I think we’re right at the edge in terms of being able to manage it,” Sutton said.
“We know that as three-quarters of the country goes back to normal way of living, it becomes even more challenging to tell people that it’s not the same here and that they’ve got to go on with a more constrained life,” Sutton added.
Melbourne and Sydney, Australia’s largest city, began with the largest numbers of cases because of the large numbers of international travellers they receive, Sutton said.
Melbourne’s colder weather during the current Southern Hemisphere winter might also play a part in the city’s great community transmission, he said.
More Florida beaches will be closing again to avoid further spread of the new coronavirus as officials try to tamp down on large gatherings amid a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Sunday in Pensacola that interactions among young people are driving the surge. Meanwhile in Broward County, home to Fort Lauderdale, authorities said they would be closing beaches during the busy Fourth of July weekend following the decision of Miami-Dade County to close theirs between July 3 and July 7.
The Florida Department of Health reported on Sunday more than 8,500 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 29 deaths in a day. New hospitalizations are also ticking upward, although not as dramatically as the new cases.
State officials on Friday announced a ban on alcohol consumption at bars, and DeSantis explained Sunday there was “widespread non-compliance.” Several restaurants were shut down over the weekend in Broward County for not following rules restricting capacity and mandating the use of masks.
“It has invariably been because they packed so many people in and created a type of environment that we are trying to avoid,” DeSantis said. “Caution was thrown to the wind and so we are where we are.”
ROME — Another tragic milestone was passed Sunday in the coronavirus pandemic: 500,000 deaths worldwide.
The reported tally comes from Johns Hopkins University researchers.
About 1 in 4 of those deaths – more than 125,000 – have been reported in the U.S. The country with the next highest death toll is Brazil, with more than 57,000, or about 1 in 9.
The true death toll from the virus, which first emerged in China late last year, is widely believed to be significantly higher. Experts say that especially early on, many victims died of COVID-19 without being tested for it.
To date, more than 10 million confirmed cases have been reported globally. About a quarter of them have been reported in the U.S.
ATLANTA — Georgia reported more than 2,200 additional COVID-19 cases Sunday, a new high of daily reported cases as confirmed infections continue to rise.
The number of reported cases Sunday eclipsed the previous highest daily total of 1,990 reported on Saturday and brings Georgia’s total confirmed cases to more than 77,000.
Since the pandemic began, the state has seen nearly 2,800 deaths from the virus. Coronavirus infections in Georgia have been rising throughout June.
The surge in infections comes about two months after Georgia began lifting restrictions April 24 on hair salons, gyms, bowling alleys and other businesses that had been forced to close to slow the virus. Restaurants, retail stores and bars have since reopened as well.
DALLAS — Both Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged Sunday that there has been a rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the state in recent weeks after Abbott begin allowing businesses to start reopening in early May.
“Covid 19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Abbott, who on Friday again shut down bars and limited restaurant dining, a day after Texas reported a record high confirmed positive tests of 5,996.
Abbott has also banned elective surgeries in the state’s largest counties.
Pence praised Abbott for his decisions both to reopen the state, then to roll back the reopening plans. He also encouraged the wearing of face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
“Wear a mask, where ever it’s indicated or where ever you’re not able to practice the kind of social distancing that would prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Pence, who along with Abbott wore face masks as they entered and left the room, taking them off while speaking to reporters.
GENEVA - The World Health Organization has announced another daily record in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the world - topping over 189,000 in a single 24-hour period.
The tally Sunday from the U.N. health agency eclipses the previous record a week earlier at over 183,000 cases, showing case counts continue to progress worldwide.
Brazil recorded the most new cases over the one-day span at more than 46,800, followed by the U.S. at over 44,400. India had nearly 20,000.
Overall the U.S. still has far and away the most total cases. At more than 2,450,000 - roughly twice that of Brazil. The number of actual cases worldwide is much higher.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Virus cases worldwide hit 10 million
— Businesses weigh reopening - or close again - as reported virus cases rise
— Experts look to set expectations on any virus vaccine
— Experts see no proof of child-abuse surge amid pandemic
— A divided Poland holds presidential vote delayed by pandemic, while France holds municipal elections.
— Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona
— The pandemic means that millions of women in Africa and other developing regions could lose years of success in contributing to household incomes, asserting their independence and expanding financial inclusion.
Follow all of AP's pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’ll encourage people to wear face masks in public but indicated that he doesn’t plan to enact a statewide requirement.
Hutchinson told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he’s “not going to pass a mandate that is unenforceable.”
He added that residents will be educated about the importance of face coverings to protect others.
His comments came as Arkansas has seen an uptick in the number of reported coronavirus cases. The state health department on Saturday reported at least 570 more cases of the virus and 10 more deaths, bringing the number of reported cases to 19,310 and the death toll to 259.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered bars that have opened in seven counties to immediately close.
Newsom is urging bars in eight other counties to do the same, saying the coronavirus is rapidly spreading in some parts of the state.
The counties under the mandatory bar closure order include Los Angeles, Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Kern, Imperial and Tulare counties.
State officials asked eight other counties to issue local health orders closing bars include Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus.
PRISTINA, Kosovo — The prime minister of Kosovo is warning that officials may have to reinstate lockdown measures if things don’t improve after a recent surge in reported coronavirus cases.
Avdullah Hoti said Sunday that he’s worried the hospital system will be overwhelmed.
Kosovo has seen a steep daily increase of the virus cases following containment measures from March to May. This past week, there were 517 new confirmed cases and 12 deaths.
Hoti urged residents to wear masks, follow social distancing protocols and wash their hands. He says those are simple measures “to protect ourselves, our children, parents and co-workers or co-travelers in the bus or taxi, or the next person at the restaurant.”
Kosovo has eased all restrictions except for those on mass gatherings, or fans at sport or cultural events.
As of Sunday, Kosovo has reported at least 2,590 confirmed cases and 48 deaths.