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Asia Today: South Korea confirms new cases outside Seoul

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Virus Outbreak China

A delivery worker wearing a protective face mask to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus sorts out parcels for his customer at a collection point outside an apartment in Beijing, Sunday, June 21, 2020. According to state media reports, nearly one hundred thousand delivery workers have to accept the nucleic acid testing, a countermeasure to prevent the spread of the virus in the capital city. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has reported 48 new cases of COVID-19 as health authorities struggle to contain a resurgence that’s erasing some of the country’s hard-won gains against the virus.

Health authorities said 24 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which have been the center of the country’s outbreak since late May.

Ten others were reported in the central city of Daejeon, indicating that the virus was beginning to spread more broadly, apparently as a result of increased public activity and complacency in social distancing.

Nearly 200 infections so far have been linked to employees at a door-to-door sales company in Seoul, which mostly hired people over 60. Seventy other cases were linked to a table tennis club in another part of Seoul, where members also passed the virus at a church.

Health authorities earlier found hundreds of cases linked to nightspots, e-commerce workers and church gatherings.

While some experts say the country should reimpose stronger social distancing guidelines after easing them in mid-April, officials have been reluctant to do so over concerns of hurting an already fragile economy.

South Korea has confirmed 12,421 cases overall, including 280 deaths.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Bangladesh’s state-run airline resumed international flights on Sunday after a suspension of more than two months due to the coronavirus. Tahera Khandaker, a spokesperson for Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said a flight carrying 187 passengers left Dhaka for London on Sunday afternoon. She said a scheduled flight will leave Dhaka every week on Sundays and another will depart London for Dhaka on Mondays. Bangladesh has confirmed 112,306 cases of the virus, including 1,464 deaths.

— Chinese authorities reported 25 new cases — 22 in Beijing and three in neighboring Hebei province. They say 2.3 million people have been tested in an effort to contain the outbreak in the capital that led to the closure of its biggest wholesale food market. China, where the outbreak began late last year, had eased controls on travel and business as new cases fell. But monitoring and some other restrictions have been reimposed following the recent jump in infections. The Beijing health commission gave no details of where the latest cases might have originated. The Chinese capital’s biggest wholesale food market was closed June 13 after dozens of people who worked there tested positive.

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