TOKYO (AP) – The daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan hit a record for the fourth day in a row at 2,508, the health ministry said Sunday.
Japan has so far had fewer than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths and has avoided paying hard-hit nations. But fear is growing over yet another wave. A stream of criticism from opposition lawmakers and the public has slammed the government for being too slow in stopping its “GoTo” tourism campaign, which encouraged travel and eateries with discounts.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga scrapped the campaign on Saturday, but only after many people had already booked travel for a three-day Thanksgiving weekend in Japan.
Airports and restaurants are packed. Some say the government should have offered to pay for cancellations or intensified PCR testing instead if the goal is to keep the economy going with a pandemic. Tutorials circulate online about the right way to eat and drink in restaurants while wearing masks.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
South Korea says it will introduce stricter rules on social distance in the greater Seoul area to combat a resurgence of coronavirus, as it registered more than 300 new cases for the fifth day in a row. Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said Sunday that authorities have found 62 virus collections in the past two weeks. He said the stricter guidelines for distance in the Seoul area will be enforced for two weeks starting Tuesday. According to the rules, nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities must close, and dining in the late evenings at restaurants will be banned. Customers are not allowed to drink or eat in cafes, internet cafes and gyms, while the audience at sporting events will be limited to 1
– India registered 45,209 new cases in the midst of an increase during the festival season in the capital and many other parts of the country. At least three states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – have imposed night bans in many cities. The Ministry of Health on Sunday also registered 501 deaths during the last 24 hours, with the total number of deaths falling to 133,227.
– South Australia and Victoria states eased COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday as Australia enters the summer in a better position to fight the virus. Victoria, who was hardest hit, has gone 23 days without a new infection. In response, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced a number of changes to restrictions. Mask wearing outdoors, which until now has been mandatory, is no longer required where social distance is possible. Masks must still be worn indoors and worn at all times. Home gathering of up to 15 people is allowed, and up to 50 people can gather outdoors. Up to 150 people are allowed for weddings, funerals or indoor religious services. Residents of South Australia came out of a nationwide lockdown at midnight Saturday and are now able to visit bars and restaurants in groups of up to 10 and host gatherings of up to 50 people with social distance.
Authorities are conducting mass testing and school closures after China reported three new domestic cases in the last 24 hours – two in northern Inner Mongolia province and one in Shanghai. The city of Manzhouli in Inner Mongolia begins testing all its residents on Sunday, a day after the two cases were discovered. The city has suspended classes and closed public venues, asking residents not to gather for dinner 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 in Pudong New Area district. China is already conducting mass tests for up to 3 million people in the northern city of Tianjin after five cases were found there last week. The total number of confirmed cases in China is 86,431.
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