Asia Today: South Korea counts daily high of 40 virus deaths

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea says 40 more coronavirus patients have died in the past 24 hours, the highest daily fatalities since the pandemic began, as the country is grappling with surging cases in recent weeks.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Tuesday that it’s logged 1,046 new cases, taking the total caseload to 58,725 with 859 deaths. The country’s daily tally had been below 1,000 in the past two days, apparently because fewer tests were taken over the weekend.

The agency says 17,163 people with active infections remain in quarantine and 330 of them are in serious or critical condition.

The 40 deaths are a record daily toll. Previous daily records were 24 deaths reported on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22. Some observers say surging fatalities reflect an increase of cases at nursing homes and long-term care centers.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

– China on Tuesday reported seven new cases of coronavirus infection in the capital Beijing, where authorities have ordered the testing of hundreds of thousands of residents. Cases have been clustered largely in villages on Beijing’s northeastern edge, but authorities are wary of any spread in the capital that could deal a setback to claims it has all-but-contained local spread of the virus. City authorities have already urged residents not to leave the city during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays. China has canceled big gatherings such as sports events and temple fairs. Cinemas, libraries and museums operate at 75% capacity. The government is also discouraging business trips. A total of 27 cases were reported on Tuesday, including eight in the northeastern province of Liaoning and 12 brought from outside the country. China has reported a total of 87,003 cases and 4,634 deaths since the virus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan late last year. Hong Kong on Monday reported cases in a security guard and cleaner at its international airport, bringing its total to 8,671 cases with 141 deaths.

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