New virus cases raise 2nd wave risk

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Foreign Desk Report

BERLIN: A family in China, nightclubs in South Korea and a slaughterhouse in Germany: New clusters of coronavirus infections are igniting concerns about a second wave even as calls grow in some countries to relax restrictions even further.
In Germany, where thousands have protested remaining restrictions in recent days, health officials say the number of people each confirmed coronavirus patient infects rose above 1 again, reflecting a renewed increase in cases. The number must be below 1 for outbreaks to decline. Health officials worldwide are watching to see just how much infection rates rise in a second wave as nations and states emerge from varying degrees of lockdown.
Later Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to take a different tack, keeping most restrictions in place as he reveals a “road map” for the country that has the most official virus deaths in Europe at over 31,600. His Conservative government was criticized for being slow to react to the pandemic, but after falling ill with the virus himself, Johnson has taken a tougher line. China reported 14 new cases Sunday, its first double-digit rise in 10 days. Eleven of 12 domestic infections were in the northeastern province of Jilin, which prompted authorities to raise the threat level in one of its counties, Shulan, to high risk, just days after downgrading all regions to low risk.
Authorities said the Shulan outbreak originated with a 45-year-old woman who had no recent travel or exposure history but spread it to her husband, her three sisters and other family members. Train services in the county were being suspended.
“Epidemic control and prevention is a serious and complicated matter, and local authorities should never be overly optimistic, war-weary or off-guard,” said Jilin Communist Party secretary Bayin Chaolu.
Jilin also shares a border with North Korea, which insists it has no virus cases, much to the disbelief of international health authorities.
South Korea reported 34 more cases as new infections linked to nightclubs threaten the country’s hard-won gains against the virus. It was the first time that South Korea’s daily infections were above 30 in about a month. Across Europe, many nations were easing lockdowns even further even as they prepared to clamp down on any new infections. Turkey’s senior citizens got their first chance to venture outside in seven weeks Sunday. “It’s very nice to be out of the house after such a long time,” said Ethem Topaloglu, 68, who wore a mask as he strolled in a park in the capital, Ankara. “Although I’ve been able to sit on the balcony, it’s not the same as walking around outside.”
Germany, which managed to push daily new infections below 1,000 before deciding to loosen restrictions, has seen regional spikes in cases linked to slaughterhouses and nursing homes.
German officials have expressed concerns about the growing number of large demonstrations, including one in the southwestern city of Stuttgart that drew thousands of participants. Police in Berlin had to step in Saturday after hundreds of people failed to respect social distancing measures at anti-lockdown rallies.