Outbreaks in Germany, S Korea show the risks in easing up
Rome: South Korea’s capital closed down more than 2,100 bars and other nightspots Saturday because of a new cluster of coronavirus infections, and Germany scrambled to contain fresh outbreaks at slaughterhouses, underscoring the dangers authorities face as they try to reopen their economies.
Elsewhere, Belarus, which has not locked down despite increasing case numbers, saw tens of thousands of people turn out to mark Victory Day, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945. That was in contrast to Russia, where a muted event took place over an empty Red Square.
Around the world, the US and other hard-hit countries are wrestling with how to ease curbs on business and public activity without touching off a deadly second wave of infection.
Germany and South Korea have both carried out extensive testing and contact tracing and have been hailed for avoiding the mass deaths that have overwhelmed other countries. But even there, authorities have struggled with finding the balance between saving lives and saving jobs.
In South Korea, where a decline in new cases had prompted the government to loosen up, Seoul shut down thousands of nightclubs, hostess bars and discos after dozens of infections were linked to clubgoers who went out last weekend as the country relaxed its social-distancing guidelines.
Many of the infections were linked to a 29-year-old man who visited three nightclubs before testing positive.
Health officials in Germany faced outbreaks at three slaughterhouses in what was seen as a test of the government’s strategy for dealing with any resurgence of the virus as restrictions are eased.
Meanwhile, governments came under fresh scrutiny over their handling of the crisis.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Europe must acknowledge that it “wasn’t well-prepared” for the outbreak. In the U.S., internal government emails obtained by The Associated Press show that a decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the epidemic came from the highest levels of the White House.
Worldwide, the virus is confirmed to have infected over 3.9 million people and killed more than 275,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University based on data reported by governments. (AP)