The Latest: South Korea urges vigilance amid virus decline
The Latest on the world's coronavirus pandemic:
South Korea’s prime minister says the country’s war against the coronavirus is broadening despite a notable decline in new cases.
He is urging vigilance after the emergence of infection clusters in areas including Seoul and warning of the possibility that the virus re-enters the country from abroad amid widening outbreaks in the West.
Chung Se-kyun’s comments during a government meeting on Saturday came as infections continued to slow in the worst-hit city of Daegu, which has reported daily increases of 60 to 70 cases over the past three days after averaging around 500 new cases per day a week ago.
South Korea reported 117 new cases and five more fatalities, bringing its total numbers to 8,086 cases and 72 deaths. Officials said 204 people were released from hospitals, making Saturday the second consecutive day that recoveries outnumbered new infections.
But there’s concern over a steady rise in infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, where at least 115 infections have been connected to a call center.
Japan's Defense Ministry says one of its officials tested positive for the virus Friday after returning from Paris where he attended an international defense seminar.
The March 4-11 seminar was suspended on March 8 after a participant was found to have been infected.
The ministry said Saturday that the official was in his 40s and returned on a flight assigned by the French government, arriving at Tokyo's Haneda international airport.
Although he had no symptoms, the official was picked up by a Self-Defense Force vehicle driven by personnel in protective gear and transported to a hospital for a test as a precaution. The result was positive.
The ministry said the Japanese official had stayed at his hotel until his departure from Paris on Friday.
Turkey says flights from nine European countries will halt Saturday as the country reports its fifth case of coronavirus.
Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said air travel to and from Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands would be canceled until April 17.
Turkey has already suspended China, Italy, Iran, Iraq and South Korea flights.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Turkey had recorded three more cases, two days after the country’s first case, a male patient who tested positive Wednesday after returning from Europe. All were relatives of the initial patient, Koca added.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced what she says will be some of the toughest border restrictions in the world in an attempt to keep out the new coronavirus.
From Monday, all incoming passengers, including New Zealand citizens, will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days. The only countries exempt from the restrictions are a handful of Pacific islands that haven’t yet had any cases of COVID-19.
New Zealand has had only six confirmed cases of the illness. All of those have been connected with international travelers and there have been no signs yet of any local outbreaks.
The measures announced Saturday will have a big impact on New Zealand’s tourism industry, which provides the country’s largest single source of foreign income.
The Czech Republic has approved further dramatic measures to try to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
Announcing its decision in the middle of the night, the government ordered retail businesses including shopping malls to close as of Saturday morning.
The exceptions include essential services such as supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies, electronics stores and places selling newspapers, glasses and supplies for pets.
Bars and restaurants will be closed as well casinos.
The measures are set to be in place for a least 10 days.
“We’re imposing those tough restrictions to prevent a massive spreading of the virus,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.
The Czech Republic has 150 cases of COVID-19.
Colombia’s president has ordered his nation’s border with Venezuela closed as a coronavirus containment measure.
Iván Duque announced late Friday that all official border crossings with the neighboring Andean nation will be shuttered beginning at 5 a.m. Saturday.
The two nations share a porous 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border that is crossed by thousands of Venezuelans each day searching for food and medicine. Many also cross to permanently leave their nation’s economic crisis.
Venezuelan officials announced earlier Friday that they have confirmed their first two coronavirus cases.
More than 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled in recent years, many arriving in Colombia. Experts in Colombia are concerned that the migration crisis could exacerbate the spread of coronavirus throughout the region.
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