Coronavirus update: South Korea case surge sparks fears of new lockdown

South Korea reported its highest single-day total in months, making lockdown-like restrictions look inevitable as transmissions slip out of control.

Meanwhile, high profile Manchester United player and France midfielder Paul Pogba has been left out of the French squad for next month’s Nations League matches after testing positive for COVID-19.

This story will be updated throughout Friday.

Friday’s key moments:

South Korea reports its highest single-day total in months

A group of young Korean women walking through a market in Seoul
Health workers have struggled to track infections linked to various sources including churches and restaurants.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

South Korea reported 441 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday (local time), its highest single-day total in months, making lockdown-like restrictions look inevitable as transmissions slip out of control.

The country has added nearly 4,000 infections while reporting triple-digit daily jumps on each of the past 14 days, prompting health experts to warn about hospitals possibly running out of capacity.

The 441 cases reported Thursday was the biggest daily increase since the 483 reported on March 7.

South Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said 315 of the new cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where health workers have struggled to track infections linked to various sources including churches, restaurants, schools and workers.

The National Assembly in Seoul was shut down and more than a dozen ruling party politicians were forced to isolate Thursday following a positive test of a journalist who covered a ruling party leaders’ meeting.

Health officials have described the outbreak over the past two weeks as the country’s biggest crisis since the emergence of COVID-19.

While the outbreak in the Daegu region was mostly tied to a single church congregation, health workers are having more difficulty tracking transmissions in the much more populated capital area.

Manchester United star Paul Pogba tests positive

Paul Pogba grimmaces after loss to Chelsea
Paul Pogba has been left out of the France squad for next month’s Nations League matches.(AP: Frank Augstein)

High profile Manchester United player and France midfielder Paul Pogba has been left out of the French squad for next month’s Nations League matches after testing positive for COVID-19, France manager Didier Deschamps said on Thursday.

Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga was called up as a late replacement for Pogba.

“I had to make a last-minute change to this list because Paul Pogba was planned to be in this list,” Deschamps told reporters.

“But unfortunately for him, he took a test [for COVID-19] yesterday which turned out to be positive today, so at the last minute he was replaced by Eduardo Camavinga.”

France are set to visit Sweden on September 5 and host Croatia three days later.

North Korea still yet to report a single case of COVID-19

A group of young men in white shirts, red ties and face masks holding their fists up
Outsiders have widely doubted North Korea’s virus-free claim.(Kyodo via Reuters)

North Korea has told the World Health Organization (WHO) it had tested 2,767 people for the coronavirus as of August 20 and that all have tested negative.

In an email to the Associated Press, WHO’s representative to North Korea Edwin Salvador said the country is currently monitoring 1,004 citizens placed under quarantine.

Mr Salvador said North Korea told the WHO that it has released 29,961 people from quarantine since December 31, including 382 foreigners.

North Korea has yet to confirm a single-case of COVID-19, but outsiders have widely doubted its virus-free claim.

In late July, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered a lockdown of Kaesong, a city near the border with South Korea after the North reported it found a person with COVID-19 symptoms.

Masks mandatory for Parisians

A woman wearing a protective face mask in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Scientific advisers warn a second wave could hit France in the Autumn.(Reuters: Gonzalo Fuentes)

France is to order the mandatory wearing of face masks across Paris to curb a surging rate of coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Jean Castex said, warning that the outbreak could spiral out of control if swift action is not taken.

“The spread of the epidemic could become exponential if we do not react quickly,” Mr Castex told a news conference.

France made it compulsory to wear a face mask in closed public spaces such as shops and banks on July 21, and in early August it became compulsory outdoors in crowded parts of the capital.

A Paris City Hall spokesman said the decision to extend the order city-wide was taken by the government and that it was not yet clear when it would take effect.

Mr Castex, who oversaw France’s emergence from lockdown before his appointment as premier in July, said scientific advisers warn of a second wave hitting in the autumn.

France reported 5,429 new daily infections on Wednesday (local time), a new post-lockdown high and a level not seen since the height of the epidemic in early April with infections were rocketing among young people.

Another single-day record of new cases in India

Health workers conduct COVID-19 antigen tests for a male patient in New Delhi, India
India’s previous highest daily count was 70,488 on August 22.(AP: Manish Swarup)

India has recorded another single-day record of new coronavirus cases, reporting 75,760 new confirmed infections in the past 24 hours.

The Health Ministry on Thursday (local time) also reported 1,023 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 60,472.

India’s previous highest daily count was 70,488 on August 22.

India has been recording more than 60,000 new infections per day for the last two weeks and now has reported 3.3 million cases since the pandemic began.

With an average of more than 800,000 tests every day, India has scaled up testing per million to more than 27,000, the Ministry said.

It also said India’s recovery rate is now around 76 per cent with a fatality rate of 1.84 per cent.

India has reported the third most cases in the world after the United States and Brazil, and its reported fatalities are the fourth-highest in the world.

China’s BeiGene to start enrolling Australians for human testing of antibody treatment

China-based drugmaker BeiGene Ltd said that an early-stage human study to test its COVID-19 antibody treatment will begin in September.

The trial will enrol 30 healthy people in Australia, while the enrolment for another larger trial in patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 is expected to start in early October, the company said.

BeiGene entered into a license agreement with Singlomics Biopharmaceuticals Co Ltd to develop, manufacture and sell the privately held company’s investigational anti-COVID-19 antibodies outside greater China.

Under the agreement, BeiGene aims to develop one or more of these antibodies globally outside of greater China, while Singlomics will keep the rights in greater China, the companies said.

Antibody therapies use antibodies generated by infected humans or animals to fight the disease in patients.

In general, the goal of a vaccine is to generate an immune response that can prevent someone from getting ill with a disease, whereas antibody-derived products are generally designed to treat disease.

‘Education emergency’ as third of world’s children lack remote learning

A young girl with her hair tied in spikes looks at the camera as she holds onto a door frame.
At least one in three students have had no way of continuing their education at home, UNICEF says.(AP: Brian Ingang)

One in three schoolchildren across the world have been unable to access remote learning during coronavirus school closures, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said, warning of a “global education emergency”.

Nearly 1.5 billion children were affected by school closures as countries locked down to prevent the disease from spreading, UNICEF said in a report.

Yet at least one in three students have had no way of continuing their education at home.

“For at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such a thing as remote learning,” UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

The report examined 100 countries, looking at children’s ability to access remote learning through television and radio broadcasts or online classes and the availability of the correct educational materials on these platforms.

It found students in Africa were the most impacted, with almost half unable to access remote education, compared to 38 per cent in South Asia and 34 per cent in eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Latin America and the Caribbean had the lowest number of children affected, with 9 per cent of students unable to access learning at home, said the report.

Most children lived in rural areas, in poor households with no access to the internet, to electricity or to the educational television and radio broadcasts that many nations ran.

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