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Asia Minute: New Waves of COVID Cases in Hong Kong, South Korea

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

As the coronavirus continues to spread in the United States and elsewhere, some locations are experiencing new waves of cases. And this week, that includes Hong Kong and South Korea.

Hong Kong’s younger school children will be staying home for the next couple of weeks starting today. That’s because the city’s top health official says “the situation is severe now” when it comes to the spread of coronavirus, and it could get worse.

Kindergarten classes have already been closed for more than a week following an outbreak of upper respiratory infections — apparently not connected to COVID.

As coronavirus cases have been rising in Hong Kong in the recent past, the government has already imposed some limited restrictions: restaurants are still open and even bars, but the number of people allowed inside has been reduced — and hours have been cut back.

As part of its effort to track the spread of the virus, the government has also ordered the testing of several specific groups — including nursing home staff members.

Following a cluster of cases, taxi drivers were recently ordered to undergo mandatory testing — a step that could not be forced in the United States.

Health officials continue to talk about “waves” of cases, Hong Kong’s Health Secretary said the city has “probably entered” its fourth wave of the pandemic.

In South Korea, they’re talking about a third wave, and colder weather has been one factor driving up new cases in the capital of Seoul.

The prime minister is urging people to avoid public gatherings for the rest of the year to prevent greater restrictions on public movements.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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