TOP OF THE HOUR: —South Korea health minister urges vigilance to keep gains against virus — 13 hospitalized, 1 dead from cruise ship with coronavirus victims in Miami — Washington will return over 400 ventilators to be given to harder-hit states
— UN Secretary-General says domestic violence reports on rise during pandemic — China reports 38 new coronavirus cases, all but one imported
SEOUL, South Korea
South Korea’s vice health minister has urged vigilance to maintain hard-won gains against the new coronavirus.
Kim Gang-lip expressed concerns over loosened attitudes toward social distancing that he says puts the country at potential risk of an infection “explosion” similar to Europe and the United States.
His warning on Monday came after the country reported 47 new cases of the coronavirus, the smallest daily jump since Feb. 20. Infections have continued to wane in the worst-hit city of Daegu, where 6,781 of the country’s 10,284 cases have been reported.
However, there’s alarm over a steady rise in infections linked to international arrivals as students and other South Korean nationals flock back from the West amid broadening outbreaks and suspended school years. This has inflated the caseload in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live, prompting Gyeonggi province governor Lee Jae-myung to warn last week that an “explosion in infections is almost certain.”
“There’s still danger that an explosion in local transmissions which we have been seeing in Europe and the United States can happen in our society at any time, which would collapse our hospital system and spike death rates,” Kim said.
Kim pleaded for people to stay at home, citing smartphone data that showed increased crowds in Seoul’s public parks and leisure districts over the past two weeks. While South Korea’s government has shut schools and issued social-distancing guidelines for the public, it has not enforced lockdowns or ordered unessential businesses to close.
Authorities say 14 people have been taken to hospitals from a cruise ship that docked in Florida with coronavirus victims aboard and one of them has died.
Two fatalities were reported earlier aboard the Coral Princess, which docked Saturday in Miami. The ship had more than 1,000 passengers and nearly 900 crew members.
Authorities did not immediately disclose whether the 14 people removed for immediate medical attention had a confirmed coronavirus link.
The Princess Cruises line ship began disembarking fit passengers cleared for charter flights Sunday. The cruise line said it was delayed by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policy preventing passengers from being placed on commercial flights.
Anyone with symptoms of the disease or recovering from it were being kept on ship until medically cleared.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state will return more than 400 ventilators of the 500 it has received from the federal government so they can go to New York and other states hit harder by the coronavirus.
The Democratic governor said Sunday that his statewide stay-at-home order and weeks of social distancing have led to slower rates of infections and deaths in Washington.
Washington state has 7,666 confirmed cases of the virus and 322 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally on Sunday afternoon. New York has more than 122,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,000 deaths.
Washington received 500 ventilators last month from the Strategic National Stockpile.
“I’ve said many times over the last few weeks: We are in this together,” Inslee said. “This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks.”
SEOUL, South Korea
South Korea has reported 47 new cases of the coronavirus and three more fatalities, bringing its totals to 10,284 infections and 186 deaths.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said at least 769 of the infections were linked to passengers arriving from overseas, with most of the cases detected in the past three weeks in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.
The country’s caseload has slowed from early March, when it was reporting around 500 new cases a day, but officials have raised concern over a steady rise in infections imported from overseas or occurring in hospitals, nursing homes and other live-in facilities.
During the weekend, officials extended a government guideline urging people to social distance to slow the spread of the virus by two weeks, guarding against increasing infections in the Seoul metropolitan area and broadening outbreaks in Europe and the United States.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says there has been “a horrifying global surge in domestic violence” in recent weeks as fear of the coronavirus pandemic has grown along with its social and economic consequences.
The U.N. chief, who appealed on March 23 for an immediate cease-fire in conflicts around the world to tackle COVID-19, said in a statement Sunday night it is now time to appeal for an end to all violence, “everywhere, now.”
Guterres said that “for many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest — in their own homes.”
“And, so, I make a new appeal today for peace at home — and in homes — around the world,” he said.
The secretary-general said in some countries, which he didn’t name, “the number of women calling support services has doubled.”
At the same time, he said, health care providers and police are overwhelmed and understaffed, local support groups are paralyzed or short of funds, and some domestic violence shelters are closed while others are full.
“I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19,” Guterres said.
China on Monday reported 39 new cases of coronavirus infection — 38 of them imported — one additional death, 10 suspected cases and 1,047 asymptomatic cases under observation.
There were no new confirmed or suspected cases in the epicenter city of Wuhan, where a 14-week lockdown is due to be lifted on Wednesday.
China has now recorded a total of 81,708 cases and 3,331 deaths since the COVID-19 illness was first detected there in late December.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to a hospital with the new coronavirus.
Johnson’s office says he is being admitted for tests because he still has symptoms, 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
Downing St. says the hospitalization is a “precautionary step” and he remains in charge of the government.
Johnson, 55, has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26.
Boeing said it will continue its shutdown of production indefinitely at its Seattle-area facilities because of the spread of the coronavirus.
The company in an email to Washington employees said it is extending the planned two-week shutdown rather than reopening Wednesday. The decision affects about 30,000 of Boeing’s 70,000 employees in the state.
The company said the decision is based on the health and safety of its employees, assessment of the coronavirus spread, supply chain concerns and recommendations from government health officials.
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