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South Korea, China report drop in infections

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SEOUL: South Korea yesterday reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in more than a week.

The country - which has the highest number of confirmed cases outside China with 7,313 - added 272 new cases, far below daily increases of around 500 recently.

Two more people died, bringing the death toll to 50, according to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

"Despite the smaller rise in Covid-19 cases, we are not at a point where we can say the situation has improved," said health minister Park Neung-hoo.

"Small cluster infections can emerge at any time in closed spaces like group facilities or religious events," KCDC director Jung Eun-kyeong told reporters.

But the mayor of the South Korean city hardest hit by that country's coronavirus outbreak expressed cautious hope yesterday that the numbers of new cases may be dropping, after the rate of increase slowed to its lowest in 10 days.

In the city of Daegu, which accounts for as much as 75 per cent of all of South Korea's confirmed cases, mayor Kwon Young-jin was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as saying: "The increase in the number of infection cases is showing signs of slowing down."

Daegu and two neighbouring areas have been declared "special care zones" by the government, which has sent extra medical supplies and staff and deployed military troops to disinfect the streets.

China, too, saw a drop in cases. It reported its lowest number of new coronavirus infections since January, with nearly all the 44 new cases in the outbreak epicentre Wuhan.

There were 27 new deaths from the virus, all in Wuhan and the lowest in more than a month, bringing the nationwide toll to 3,097, according to the National Health Commission.

Only three cases, all imported from abroad, were reported outside of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, in Beijing and the north-west province of Gansu.

New infections reported from Hubei have been on a downward trend for several weeks and multiple cities in the province have reported zero new cases in recent days. - AFP, REUTERS