Asia Today: South Korea tightens restrictions to fight virus

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Tuesday that it will tighten social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area and some parts of eastern Gangwon province to try to suppress a coronavirus resurgence there.

The announcement came as South Korea’s daily virus tally stayed above 200 for a fourth straight day. The country has been experiencing a steady increase in virus infections since it relaxed its social distancing guidelines last month.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said it was necessary to adjust the distancing rules for two weeks to prevent a spread of the virus across the country.

Under the new rules to be effective in those areas starting Thursday, authorities are banning gatherings of more than 100 people during rallies, festivals, concerts and academic events. Customers at theaters, concerts and libraries are required to sit at least one seat apart from each other, while audiences at sporting events will be limited to 30% of the stadium’s capacity.

The new rules also ban dancing and moving to others’ seats at nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities, and drinking and eating at karaoke rooms and concert halls.

South Korea added 230 more virus cases on Tuesday, raising the country’s total to 28,998 since the pandemic began, including 494 deaths.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— India’s number of new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours dropped to 29,164 new infections, continuing a downturn. The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 449 new fatalities, raising the overall death toll to 130,519. With nearly 8.9 million reported cases since the pandemic began, India is the second worst-hit country behind the U.S., but it has been witnessing a steady fall in daily cases. In the last 10 days, there have been fewer than 50,000 new cases every day. In New Delhi, however, the there is still concern about the number of new infections. The city reported 3,797 new coronavirus cases and 99 fatalities in the past 24 hours, fewer than last week’s daily average of nearly 7,000 cases. But health experts say the numbers in the capital have come down because fewer tests were conducted over the weekend.

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