A number of countries in Asia are poised to tighten COVID-19 restrictions amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
In South Korea, health officials on Saturday reported 323 new cases — the 16th consecutive day of triple-digit jumps, bringing the national caseload to 19,400. Fatalities reached 321 after five more deaths overnight.
Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Health Institute, said the death toll could rise in the coming weeks as many of those who tested positive this month were 60 years or older, an age group that’s more likely to experience serious health complications caused by the virus.
For eight days starting Sunday, restaurants in the Seoul metropolitan area will provide only deliveries and takeouts after 9 p.m. Franchised coffee shops like Starbucks will sell only takeout drinks and food, while gyms and after-school academies will be shut to slow the viral spread in the region.
Authorities have already banned larger gatherings, shut down nightspots and churches, and shifted most schools back to remote learning nationwide. But they have so far resisted elevating restrictions to the highest level. Such a move would possibly include a ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people, shutting down a broader range of businesses and having private company employees work from home.
Malaysia has extended its pandemic movement restrictions, including banning foreign tourists until the end of the year. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address late Friday that global cases have been rising and the country has seen sporadic virus clusters even though the situation was under control.
Malaysia has recorded more than 9,000 cases with 125 deaths.
Muhyiddin said the extension of restrictions will not disrupt daily activities as most businesses, and schools have resumed. Only nightclubs and entertainment centres remain shut and international sporting events prohibited. Borders will stay closed, and those entering the country will be quarantined
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 127,669 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 113,496 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,150.
1/2 To date, labs across 🇨🇦 have tested 5,355,340 people for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>, w\ an average ~2.3% positive overall, for a rate of 142,470 people tested per million population in Canada. <a href=”https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo”>https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo</a>
Ontario reported an additional 148 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, making it the highest daily case count since July 24. The update brings the province’s total number of cases to 42,083 since the outbreak began in January.
In a series of tweets, Health Minister Christine Elliott said 27 of the province’s 34 public health units reported five or fewer cases. Of those, 18 have no new cases. Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa made up almost two-thirds of the new cases combined, recording 41, 32, and 20 positive COVID-19 infections, respectively. Windsor saw a significant increase in its cases with another 19 after recording only four cases on Friday.
On only the second day back in class for thousands of Quebec students, problems at several schools — including a temporary shutdown and more than a dozen teachers in quarantine — served to illustrate the challenges ahead for Canadians amid the pandemic.
WATCH | What back to school looks like in some Calgary schools:
At Polyvalente Deux-Montagnes in the Lower Laurentians, students in grades 9 and 10 were told to stay home on Friday after a teacher tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the second staff member to catch the disease.
The school also placed roughly 20 more teachers in preventive isolation. Students are likely to return to school Monday, if the school can get the replacement staff necessary.
Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, is cautioning residents to keep their list of personal contacts small as people return to school.
WATCH | Immunologist on difference between infection rates in Canada and the U.S.:
Shahab suggested people should keep their close contacts — anyone they’re within two metres of, not including in a classroom setting — to about 10 people.
“We should be able to count our close contacts on the fingers of our hands,” Shahab said during the government’s COVID-19 update on Friday.
Saskatchewan has the lowest active case rate in Western Canada, Shahab said. He also said there are less than five active cases with an unknown source of exposure.
“Schools reflect community transmission,” Shahab said. “So if your community transmission is high, that increases the likelihood of a case or a cluster in a school. So the fact that we have low community transmission is the most important thing we can do to minimize the chance of a case or cluster emerging in school.”
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 24.7 million. More than 837,000 people have died while 16.2 million have recovered. Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world:
In Europe, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin to protest against pandemic restrictions after a court overturned a ban issued by authorities in the German capital. Some among the crowd on Saturday waved American, Russian or German Reich flags, while others wore T-shirts promoting the “Q” conspiracy theory or denouncing Germany’s limited rules requiring the wearing of masks.
In eastern Paris, a few hundred people rallied to protest new mask rules and other restrictions prompted by rising coronavirus infections in France. Masks are now required everywhere in public in Paris.
In the Americas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has reported 233 more confirmed cases of coronavirus at one of its facilities in Arizona. The infections at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy now total 356 cases.
It’s unclear how many people are detained at La Palma, but an ICE spokesperson said the agency recently expanded virus testing at La Palma and tested 1,000 detainees.
WATCH | Family speaks out after Canadian man dies of COVID-19 in ICE custody:
In Africa, Namibia will lift lockdown restrictions, allowing international travel, schools to reopen and onsite alcohol consumption from September, President Hage Geingob announced Friday, but he extended an overnight curfew as cases continue to rise.
Gambia extended by 21 days a state of emergency in mainland Africa’s smallest nation as infections surged.