TOKYO (AP) – The daily tally of confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan reached a record for the fourth day in a row at 2,508, the health ministry said on Sunday.
Japan has so far seen less than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths, avoiding the toll of the hardest-hit countries. But fears are growing about another wave. A wave of criticism from opposition lawmakers and the public criticized the government for being too slow to stop its “GoTo” tourism campaign, which encouraged travel and dining with discounts.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga canceled the campaign on Saturday, but only after many people had already made travel reservations for a three-day Thanksgiving weekend in Japan.
Airports and restaurants are crowded. Some say the government should have offered to pay for the cancellations, or rather step up PCR testing, if the goal is to keep the economy in the midst of a pandemic. Tutorials are circulating online on the correct way to eat and drink in restaurants while wearing masks.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
– South Korea has said it will impose stricter social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area to fight a resurgence of the coronavirus, as the country recorded more than 300 new cases for the fifth day in a row. Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said on Sunday authorities had found 62 clusters of the virus in the past two weeks. He said the enhanced distancing guidelines in the Seoul area will be enforced for two weeks starting Tuesday. Under the rules, nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities are to close and late-night dining in restaurants will be banned. Customers are not allowed to eat or drink in cafes, internet cafes and fitness centers, while audiences at sporting events will be limited to 10% of the stadium capacity. Earlier on Sunday, South Korea added 330 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the national total to 30,733, including 505 deaths.
– India has registered 45,209 new cases amid a sharp increase in the festival season in the capital and in many other parts of the country. At least three states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – have imposed nighttime curfews in many cities. The health ministry also recorded 501 deaths on Sunday in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 133,227.
– The states of South Australia and Victoria eased COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday as Australia approaches summer in a better position to fight the virus. Victoria, who was the hardest hit, went 23 days without a new infection. In response, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced a number of changes to the restrictions. Wearing a mask outdoors, which was until now mandatory, is no longer mandatory where social distancing is possible. Masks should always be worn indoors and worn at all times. Home gatherings of up to 15 people will be permitted and up to 50 people may gather outside. Up to 150 people will be allowed at indoor weddings, funerals or religious services. Residents of South Australia emerged from a statewide lockdown at midnight on Saturday and are now able to visit bars and restaurants in groups of up to 10 people and hold rallies until ‘to 50 people with social distancing.
– Authorities are carrying out mass testing and closing schools after China reported three new cases transmitted to the country in the past 24 hours – two in the northern province of Inner Mongolia and one in Shanghai. The city of Manzhouli in Inner Mongolia will begin testing all of its residents on Sunday, a day after the two cases were discovered. The city has suspended classes and closed public places, telling residents not to gather for banquets. Local authorities in Shanghai found another case on Saturday after testing 15,416 people following recent locally transmitted cases. The city is testing all residents of Pudong New Area district. China is already conducting mass tests on up to 3 million residents in the country’s northern city of Tianjin, after five cases were discovered there last week. The total number of confirmed cases in China is 86,431.
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