The worldwide death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic has surpassed 350,000.
The milestone comes as South Korea announced Wednesday its highest number of new cases in 49 days. Authorities are focusing on testing workers from e-commerce giant Coupang after dozens of cases were linked to a company site outside of Seoul.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all but four of its 40 new cases were in the Seoul area. The country was an early hotspot for the coronavirus outbreak, but now barely ranks in the top-50 in terms of confirmed infections, according to statistics compiled by the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.
“We will do our best to trace contacts and implement preventive measures, but there’s a limit to such efforts," KCDC head Jeong Eun-kyeong said. "There’s a need to maximize social distancing in areas where the virus is circulating, to force people to avoid public facilities and other crowded spaces.”
Brazil, India, Mexico are cause for concern
Brazil has emerged as a major source of concern, trailing only the United States in the number of infections. On Tuesday it reported the most single day deaths in the world, with 1,039, its fifth consecutive day atop the grim list.
India posted its record high of 6,000 new cases reported Wednesday, pushing its total above 150,000.
Mexico also reported troubling escalations in its coronavirus outbreak, with a new high of 501 deaths and 3,455 new confirmed cases.
Like many governments around the world, Mexico is weighing continuing stay-at-home and social distancing orders against the desire to resume economic activity.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters his advisers were discussing possible reopening steps and could announce as early as this week plans to send kids back to school. He also said he plans to tour different states and hold talks with local officials on easing restrictions.
US easing restrictions
In the neighboring United States, governors continue to pull back on their lockdown orders, including in Nevada, where Governor Steve Sisolak announced casinos in Las Vegas can reopen June 4 after the key industry was shut down for 10 weeks.
“We welcome the visitors from across the country to come here, to have a good time, no different than they did previously, but we're gonna be cautious," Sisolak said.
No COVID patients in New Zealand
New Zealand reported a new milestone in its coronavirus recovery, saying Wednesday there were no more COVID-19 patients in the country’s hospitals. Health officials said there were only 21 active cases in New Zealand, which put in place a strict five-week lockdown before slowly easing the measures in late April.
New Zealand and Australia are working on plans to amend their travel bans to allow people to move between the two countries, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a draft should be ready by early next month.
And in Spain, a 10-day mourning period began Wednesday to honor the more than 27,000 people in the country who have died from COVID-19.