South Korea records jump in virus cases

By AAP Newswire

South Korea has announced stronger social distancing restrictions for its greater capital area where a COVID-19 surge threatens to erase hard-won gains against the virus.

The two-week measures starting on Sunday will allow authorities in Seoul and towns in neighbouring Gyeonggi Province to shut down high-risk facilities such as nightclubs, karaoke rooms, movie theatres and buffet restaurants if they fail to properly enforce preventive measures.

They include distancing, temperatures checks, keeping customer lists and requiring masks.

Fans will once again be banned from professional baseball and football, just a few weeks after health authorities allowed teams to let in spectators for a portion of their seats in each game.

Gatherings of more than 50 people will be discouraged. Churches will be advised to shift their services online.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo revealed the measures hours after authorities reported 166 newly confirmed cases, the highest daily jump in five months.

Mr Park expressed concern that transmissions were getting out of control in Seoul metropolitan areas, where health officials have found it increasingly difficult to track infection routes.

"The current situation looks like an early stage of a massive round of transmissions," Mr Park said.

"If we fail to properly control the spread now, a broader and quicker spread of the virus would spike the number of patients and reach nationwide."

Officials have previously resisted calls to enforce stronger distancing measures, citing concerns for the fragile economy.

South Korea's caseload is now at 15,039, including 305 deaths.

Elsewhere, India's confirmed coronavirus cases have crossed 2.5 million with another biggest single-day spike of 65,002 in 24 hours.

India is behind only the United States and Brazil in the number of cases.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported another 996 deaths for a total of 49,036.

The average daily reported cases jumped from around 15,000 in the first week of July to more than 50,000 at the beginning of August.

The Australian state of Victoria continues to flatten the curve in its wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the hard-hit area.

It reported four more deaths and 303 new cases in the past 24 hours.

It is the second-lowest daily figure in Victoria this month after 278 cases on Thursday.

China's government reported 22 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday.

Eight were acquired locally, including seven in the north-western region of Xinjiang. The rest were found in travellers who arrived from abroad.

The raised the number of confirmed cases on China's mainland, where the pandemic began in December, to 84,808, with 4,634 deaths.