SEOUL, Korea (AP) – Health officials in Korea have approved a new test designed to detect both COVID-19 and seasonal flu from the same sample, helping to prevent disruptions at hospital when the pandemic extends into the flu season.
The country has struggled to stop the coronavirus, which some experts say could spread more widely in cold weather as people spend more time indoors.
The South Korean Agency for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reported 118 new cases of COVID-19 infections, most of them in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area. The total amount of money nationwide is now 26,925 people, of which 474 people died.
People increasingly ventured out into public after the government loosened restrictions on social distance last month to support the weak economy.
“Despite efforts by health authorities to monitor contacts and prevent transmission, such efforts outpaced the rate of the virus,”; said the senior health ministry official. Mr. Yoon Taeho said during a press conference about the virus.
The new test, which targets genes specific to both COVID-19 and seasonal flu, is an evolutionary version of the PCR test used to detect COVID-19 from samples taken from the nose or throat. Laboratories use machines to amplify genetic material so that even small amounts of the virus can be detected.
Diseases are difficult to distinguish by symptoms, so diagnosing both diseases within three to six hours “will be convenient for the patient and also reduce the burden on the medical staff,” Yoon said.
Among other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
The Indian capital reported a record high of 6,725 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, affected by the worst wave of coronavirus infections since March. New Delhi has recorded an average of more than 5,200 cases per day over the past week, a spike that the Health Department attributed to the festive season. India has a total of 46,253 additional cases, bringing the total to 8.3 million cases before. The ministry on Wednesday also reported 514 other deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 123,611. The ministry has warned that the virus situation in New Delhi could be worsened by people concentrating on markets for festival shopping, along with the onset of winter and high levels of air pollution in the capital.
New Zealand’s unemployment rate rose to 5.3% in the 9th quarter, a better-than-expected result amid a recession caused by the coronavirus, government data showed. This rate has increased from 4% in the previous quarter. Back in May when the government budget was announced, the Ministry of Finance predicted the unemployment rate would rise to nearly 10% now. Since then, the government has borrowed and spent billions of dollars on wage subsidies to try to reduce job loss. Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the better-than-expected figures show the recovery and reconstruction plan is in the works. The data show that women’s employment has been disproportionately affected. New Zealand has largely succeeded in removing the virus from its coasts.
More than 200 Sri Lankan police were infected with the coronavirus and another 2,213 were quarantined as cases increased in the capital and its suburbs, police said Wednesday. Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said 221 police officers tested positive for the virus. Health authorities have linked the infections with a cluster that emerged from the country’s main fish market near Colombo. Sri Lanka experienced a new outbreak of disease last month when two clusters appeared – one focusing on a garment factory and the other on the fish market. Confirmed cases from the two clusters increased to 8,265. Sri Lanka’s total since March has risen to 11,744, including 23 fatalities. The government has imposed a curfew in the populated western province where the capital is located. Authorities also closed schools and main offices, banned public gatherings and restricted public transportation.