Asia Today: S. Korea counts 18 more cases after club visits

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea on Saturday reported 18 fresh cases of the new coronavirus, including 12 in Seoul, as health workers scrambled to trace contacts following a slew of transmissions linked to clubgoers.

The latest infections brought national totals to 10,840 cases and 256 deaths.

While South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t immediately release details, most of the new cases were likely linked to nightclubs in Seoul’s Itaewon leisure district, which was brought to a sudden standstill Friday night following reports of the transmissions.

At least 15 cases were linked to a 29-year-old man who visited three Itaewon clubs last Saturday and later tested positive for the virus. It raised concern about a broader spread of the virus in the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun in a meeting Saturday said the government will employ “all available resources” to find and isolate carriers. Officials have also issued a monthlong administrative order advising nightclubs, hostess bars and other similar facilities nationwide to close.

Fewer cases in previous weeks had allowed for social distancing guidelines to be relaxed and a phased reopening of schools, starting with high school seniors returning next Wednesday.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

– KIM WRITES PUTIN: North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II and wishing Russia success in fighting its coronavirus outbreak. Kim earlier sent a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping praising what he described as China’s success in getting its COVID-19 epidemic under control. Some experts say the North could intensify its diplomatic outreach to neighbors, particularly China, as it seeks economic help after closing its border for months to fend off the virus.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

A migrant worker from Chhattisgarh state carries her belongings and makes the journey to her village hundreds of miles away on foot during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of new coronavirus in Hyderabad, India, Friday, May 8, 2020. Locking down the country’s 1.3 billion people has slowed down the spread of the virus, but has come at the enormous cost of upending lives and millions of lost jobs. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)
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