South Korea has recorded more than 500 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours for the first time in about eight months as health authorities struggle to contain a third surge of infections.
The Asian nation has been experiencing a spike in cases since it relaxed stringent social distancing rules last month. To deal with the latest surge, the country on Tuesday re-imposed tough distancing guidelines in Seoul and some other areas.
South Korea’s cases initially peaked last February and March, with officials reporting hundreds of fresh cases daily, mostly tied to a religious sect. Its second major outbreak came during the summer, and was mostly tied to the greater Seoul area.
Officials say the latest outbreak is worrisome because there are many cluster infections tied to a variety of sources.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— EXPLAINER: China’s claims of coronavirus on frozen foods
— Restaurant employees out of work again as coronavirus surges anew
— A migrant’s odyssey from boat to COVID-19 nursing job in Spain
— Christmas traditions axed as pandemic sweeps rural Kansas
— Germany set to extend partial shutdown well into December
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BEIJING — China is reporting nine new coronavirus cases in the vast Inner Mongolia region, where authorities have closed schools, suspended flights, shuttered public venues and banned banquets and other gatherings.
The cluster has been centered on Manzhouli, a city of more than 200,000 people on the border with Russia. Authorities ordered testing of all residents to detect new cases after the country’s latest local outbreak first emerged late last week. Ground transport to and from the city has been largely cut off and movement around the city restricted.
Elsewhere in China, local infections have also been reported lately in the financial hub of Shanghai and the northern port of Tianjin, although the government’s pandemic update Thursday listed no new cases in those cities.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s two largest metropolitan areas are cracking down on restaurants that violate rules designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Kansas City’s authorities found two dozen bars and restaurants in violation of the city’s new pandemic restrictions after a weekend sweep of 185 establishments. Previously, the city relied primarily on complaints to enforce the rules.
The new rules limit bars and restaurants to 50% capacity and require closing by 10 p.m..
Meanwhile, officials in St. Louis County have sent certified letters to three dozen bars and businesses ordering them to cease indoor service or face lawsuits or criminal charges.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Officials in Anchorage, Alaska, are imposing new pandemic restrictions for December that will prohibit bars and restaurants from offering indoor service, require employers to allow people to work from home if possible and limit many businesses to 25% capacity.
Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson said Wednesday that the rules are needed to deal with increasing coronavirus infections in Anchorage, which is Alaska’s biggest city. The rules take effect Tuesday and run through Jan. 1.
As of Wednesday, the city has recorded 15,100 coronavirus cases. Of those, 2,115 were reported in the last week. The city has had 66 deaths from COVID.19.
NEW YORK — A new government report says the U.S. is still missing nearly eight coronavirus infections for every one counted.
By the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 53 million Americans had been infected. That is just under eight times the confirmed cases reported at the time.
Previously, the CDC estimated that one of every 10 infections were being missed.
The latest CDC calculation is meant to give a more accurate picture of how many people actually have caught the virus since the pandemic began. Of the 53 million estimated infections, the CDC says about 45 million were sick at some point and about 2.4 million were hospitalized.
SALEM, Oregon — Oregon’s governor says bars and restaurants can reopen for limited outdoor service next week but many restrictions will remain in place until a vaccine against the coronavirus is widely available.
In making the announcement Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown urged Oregonians to stay safe during the Thanksgiving holiday and protect others by not ignoring safety protocols, like wearing masks and limiting personal contacts.
The revamped pandemic restrictions take effect when the current two-week “freeze” expires Dec. 3. Currently, only take-out restaurant service is allowed. The restaurant industry pushed hard against the restrictions as several eateries closed for good and others were at risk of doing so.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon says he has tested positive for the coronavirus, but has only minor symptoms.
Gordon said Wednesday that he plans to continue working remotely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people who test positive for the virus isolate themselves for 10 days.
Gordon said on Nov. 13 that Wyoming residents need to be more responsible about preventing the spread of the coronavirus. In his words, “We’ve relied on people to be responsible, and they’re being irresponsible,” Gordon joins nearly 26,700 Wyoming residents who have tested positive.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Wednesday that public schools will be allowed to offer in-school quarantines for students exposed to the virus.
Schools in Mustang became the first in the state to adopt the policy, the department said.
Effective from Nov. 30 through Dec. 23, the policy would allow students to quarantine in school.
Interim State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said students who tested positive for COVID-19 and students who had interactions with the infected student would have previously moved to distance learning for 14 days.
Under the new policy, students who are quarantined will be allowed to go to school to take part in virtual classes, but will be kept out of individual classrooms in buildings such as gyms or an auditorium where they would be socially distanced and must wear masks.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Officials in Santa Clara County said they will ramp up enforcement of state health orders during the holiday weekend to make sure businesses follow the permitted capacity, employees and customers wear masks at all times and social distance guidelines are being followed.
With Thanksgiving week kicking off the holiday shopping season, compliance officers will fan out throughout the Silicon Valley county starting Thursday and at least through Sunday with the help of firefighters who normally enforce capacity issues for fire codes. They will be able to issue fines on the spot starting at $250.
Until now, most California counties have taken an education approach, issuing warnings instead of fines.
But the county recorded its highest individual new case count for a day and has only 68 available ICU beds, testing officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib said Wednesday, surpassing any levels hit during the peak of the summer surge.
“We are really, really concerned,” Fenstersheib said. “All of the metrics that we have been following, that have done well in previous months, are now going up very steeply.”
SALT LAKE CITY — Physicians in Utah are warning that Thanksgiving could become a major super spreader event for COVID-19 transmission if people don’t follow public health guidelines.
An increased number of hospitalizations across the state has prompted doctors and public health officials to advise against attending Thanksgiving gatherings with people outside their immediate households.
On Wednesday, an infectious disease specialist said COVID-19 cases could further overwhelm a strained healthcare system if people do not follow this guidance. His pleas comes just days after Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said he would not extend his previous order requiring people to limit social gatherings to people in their home.
In Utah, 1 in 136 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week and the state is ranked tenth in the country for new cases per capita, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
There have been over 182,000 reported virus cases in Utah and more than 800 known deaths related to the virus, according to state data.
HELENA, Mont. — Montana schools will receive nearly $13 million in additional coronavirus relief funds before Dec. 30.
Gov. Steve Bullock announced Wednesday that more than 180 schools across the state were approved for additional funding after they submitted requests in October.
The new funding includes about $5.7 million in unspent funding from the $75 million allocated to K-12 schools in July.
Bullock called on Congress to pass additional relief for the coming calendar year. State health officials reported over 1,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday. That brings the total number of Montana confirmed cases since the pandemic began to more than 58,000.
ANKARA, Turkey — The number of daily COVID-19 infections in Turkey has jumped to above 28,000 after, in a surprise development, the government resumed publishing all positive cases and not just the number of patients being treated for symptoms of the coronavirus.
The government was accused of hiding the full extent of the virus spread in Turkey, after it was revealed that the number of asymptomatic cases were not being included in data published since July 29. The Health Ministry was under pressure to resume publishing the total number of cases.
In a news conference Wednesday following a weekly scientific advisory council meeting, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced 28,351 new infections in the past 24 hours, emphasizing that the data represented “all people whose PCR tests are positive whether they display symptoms or not.”
Koca on Wednesday, also announced 168 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours. Turkey had previously been reporting around 6,000 daily new patients
The total number of cases since the outbreak started now stands at 467,730, with 12,840 fatalities.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a Turkish-developed vaccine against COVID-19 could be ready for use by April.
The vaccine, ERUCOV-VAC, is being developed by Erciyes University, in the central Turkish province of Kayseri, and is currently undergoing phase 1 of testing.
NEWARK, N.J. — In New Jersey’s largest city, officials are urging residents to shelter in place for the next 10 days to quell a resurgence of the new coronavirus.
The test positivity rate has soared to around 40% in Newark’s Ironbound, the epicenter of the city’s nightlife and the heart of the Spanish and Portuguese community. That has prompted Mayor Ras Baraka to impose a curfew and use police checkpoints to restrict access to residents and those conducting essential business.
Citywide, where the positivity rate is around 20 percent, double the statewide rate, non-essential businesses are being asked to close at 8 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles has begun to require travelers arriving to by airplane or train to sign a form acknowledging California’s recommended two-week self-quarantine in response to surging coronavirus cases.
Anyone over the age of 16 coming from another state or country must submit the form online before or upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport, Van Nuys Airport or Union Station.
City officials said those who don’t submit the form may face a fine of up to $500.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the requirement on Monday as he warned the virus was “threatening to spiral out of control” in Los Angeles.
PORTLAND, Ore. – A federal judge has declined to bar or alter Gov. Kate Brown’s two-week freeze that prohibits indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and bars in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut on Tuesday denied a temporary restraining order sought by the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and Restaurant Law Center.
Immergut issued her ruling after hearing nearly an hour of argument. It marked the latest rejection by a judge in Oregon of a challenge to the governor’s coronavirus restrictions.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister has ruled out imposing another virus lockdown, despite a steady increase in fatalities from COVID-19. Imran Khan says his government doesn’t want people to die because of hunger while trying to save them from the pandemic.
Khan spoke to journalists Wednesday in the eastern city of Lahore hours after authorities reported one of the highest COVID-19 death tallies in a 24-hour period yet at 59, and over 3,000 new cases.
Pakistan is experiencing a second wave of the virus and hospitals are being flooded with patients.
Khan urged people to strictly adhere to social distancing rules and said wearing face masks is the easiest way to contain the spread of the virus.
Khan said he did not want to shut down factories, shops and shopping malls as it could affect country’s economy.
Pakistan has recorded 382,892 confirmed cases, including 7,803 deaths, since February when the country reported its first case.
Pakistan imposed a nationwide lockdown in March but eased restrictions in May.
ROME — Italy registered a slightly higher new daily caseload of coronavirus infections, but significantly more swab tests were conducted compared to the previous day. That’s according to Health Ministry figures released Wednesday.
With the addition of 25,853 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, Italy’s known total in the pandemic rose to 1.480,874. The number of persons hospitalized with symptoms in regular care beds declined by 264 since Tuesday, but the number of ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients rose by 32 on Monday.
In the same 24-hour period, 722 deaths were registered, bringing to 52,028 the number of known dead in the pandemic.
Later this week, the government must decide whether to extend nationwide restrictions, including an overnight curfew, as well as determine which regions should stay “red zones” due to worrisome factors like high rates of contagion and pressure on local hospital systems.
The “Red zone” designation means only essential shops, like food stores and pharmacies, can open, while restaurants and cafes can only do take-out or delivery service, and residents can’t leave their towns, except for reasons like work or medical care.
Businesses are pressing the government to lift or ease restrictions to salvage the upcoming holiday shopping and travel season.
HONOLULU — A Honolulu city councilman has called on the city’s police chief to reinstate its coronavirus enforcement unit. The unit was suspended after allegations that officers abused overtime hour submissions.
Councilman and Legal Affairs Committee chair Ron Menor proposed this week that Police Chief Susan Ballard should only ban officers currently under investigation for wrongdoing. He says that the rest of the officers should continue to enforce coronavirus restrictions around the city, especially with the upcoming holiday season fast approaching.
The job of ensuring that Honolulu’s residents and tourists are following coronavirus guidelines is now conducted by on-duty patrol officers. They take assignments based on their availability.
LIHUE, Hawaii — The first coronavirus death on the island of Kauai has been reported.
Mayor Derek Kawakami announced in a statement this week that an elderly resident of the island with no travel history had died from the coronavirus, which has killed 232 others in Hawaii.
The Garden Island reports that a Kauai resident died in Arizona earlier this year.
The island reported four newly confirmed virus cases Monday, including one adult resident and three adult visitors. Kauai currently has 117 confirmed virus cases since the pandemic began. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested.