Asia Today: 23 new cases in South Korea, none in China

BANGKOK — (AP) — South Korea reported 23 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, mostly from the densely populated Seoul area where authorities shut down thousands of nightclubs, bars and karaoke rooms to stem transmissions.

Meanwhile, China, where the pandemic began late last year, reported no new confirmed cases for the first time since it began announcing infections in January.

South Korea has now confirmed 11,165 cases, including 266 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Thirteen of the new cases came from Gyeonggi province surrounding Seoul, which on Saturday ordered the closure of an additional 2,629 bars and karaoke rooms, bringing the number of shut entertainment venues to 8,363.

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South Korea was reporting around 500 new cases a day in early March before using aggressive tracing and testing to stabilize its outbreak. But there’s growing concern over the steady rise of infections in the greater capital area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live. It came after health authorities relaxed social distancing guidelines and allowed a phased reopening of schools, starting with high school seniors on Wednesday.

More than 200 of the recent infections have been linked to club-goers in the Seoul metropolitan area.

At least 1,204 cases have been traced to international arrivals, although such infections have slowed after the country strengthened border controls in April, enforcing two-week quarantines on all overseas passengers.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— NO NEW CASES IN CHINA: China reported no new confirmed infections or deaths and only two suspected cases in last the 24 hours. That added to evidence that the country has largely overcome the epidemic that began in the central industrial city of Wuhan. The National Health Commission said 79 patients were still being treated as of Friday. Some 376 others are in isolation and being monitored as either suspected cases or for testing positive without showing symptoms. China has reported a total of 82,971 cases, including 4,634 deaths.

— INDIA CASES TOP 6,000 AGAIN: New cases of the coronavirus in India topped 6,000 for a second consecutive day, marking another record jump for the country in a 24-hour period. India reported 6,654 new cases on Saturday, bringing the nationwide total to 125,102, including 3,720 deaths. The rate of infection in the country of 1.3 billion has risen as a two-month lockdown that has crippled the economy has started to ease. States with relatively few cases have seen spikes in recent days with increased mobility and as residents, including migrant workers traveling on special trains, have returned home. Authorities in the northeastern border state of Assam introduced on Saturday criminal charges for quarantine violators after more than 100 people in state quarantine facilities tested positive for the virus.

— NEARLY 1,000 NEW CASES IN INDONESIA: Indonesia announced 949 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing its total to 21,745 cases, including 1,351 deaths. East Java province had the highest spike, with 466 new cases, raising its total to 3,595. East Java Gov. Khofifah Indar Parawansa said that the number of infected people in the province who show no symptoms has increased, and that the virus is spreading rapidly there. She urged people not to come to East Java to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan and which starts Sunday.

— SRI LANKA TO EASE CURFEW: Sri Lanka announced that it will ease curfew restrictions starting Tuesday. The curfew will be in effect throughout the island nation from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., according to a statement Saturday from the president’s office. The two hardest-hit areas — the capital, Colombo, and Gampaha district — have been under a 24-hour curfew since March, with residents allowed to leave home once a week. In the rest of the island nation, the curfew has been in force from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on working days and all day long on other days. Sri Lanka has reported 1,085 coronavirus cases, including nine deaths.

— JAPAN NIGHTCLUBS GET COVID INSTRUCTIONS: The Japanese association representing workers at nightclubs and hostess bars is instructing people to wear masks and disinfect doorknobs and tables every 30 minutes. The guidelines said karaoke microphones must be cleaned after each use, and workers should wash their hands and gargle every 30 minutes. A customer and worker can sit together, but one empty seat must be kept in between another customer. Visitors from abroad who didn’t undergo a 14-day quarantine will be refused at the door. More than a million women are estimated to work at cabarets, with more at the cheaper places. Their income has plunged amid the outbreak, as major companies instruct employees to work from home. The government’s stay-home request has been lifted in much of Japan but remains in Tokyo. Japan has more than 16,500 confirmed virus cases, including 796 deaths.

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

A baby with a face shield waits to board a plane at an airport in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province Saturday, May 23, 2020. China on Saturday reported no new confirmed cases or deaths from the new coronavirus. (Kyodo News via AP)
A baby with a face shield waits to board a plane at an airport in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province Saturday, May 23, 2020. China on Saturday reported no new confirmed cases or deaths from the new coronavirus. (Kyodo News via AP) (Naohiko Hatta)
A man wearing a mask to curb the spread of the new coronavirus and a child who temporarily removed his to enjoy a ride at a local park in Beijing on Saturday, May 23, 2020. New coronavirus cases dropped to zero in China for the first time Saturday but overwhelmed hospitals across Latin America – both in countries lax about lockdowns and those lauded for firm, early confinement. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man wearing a mask to curb the spread of the new coronavirus and a child who temporarily removed his to enjoy a ride at a local park in Beijing on Saturday, May 23, 2020. New coronavirus cases dropped to zero in China for the first time Saturday but overwhelmed hospitals across Latin America – both in countries lax about lockdowns and those lauded for firm, early confinement. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (Ng Han Guan)
A man and a child wearing masks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus visit a local park in Beijing on Saturday, May 23, 2020. New coronavirus cases dropped to zero in China for the first time Saturday but overwhelmed hospitals across Latin America – both in countries lax about lockdowns and those lauded for firm, early confinement. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A man and a child wearing masks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus visit a local park in Beijing on Saturday, May 23, 2020. New coronavirus cases dropped to zero in China for the first time Saturday but overwhelmed hospitals across Latin America – both in countries lax about lockdowns and those lauded for firm, early confinement. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (Ng Han Guan)
A lab technician holds a bottle containing results for COVID-19 vaccine testing at the National Primate Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi Province, north of Bangkok, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Thai health officials said that scientists in Thailand have had promising results in testing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate on mice, and have begun testing on monkeys. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A lab technician holds a bottle containing results for COVID-19 vaccine testing at the National Primate Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi Province, north of Bangkok, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Thai health officials said that scientists in Thailand have had promising results in testing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate on mice, and have begun testing on monkeys. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) (Sakchai Lalit)
A long-tailed macaque which is kept for use in the clinical research is seen inside cage at National Primate Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi Province, north of Bangkok, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Thai health officials said that scientists in Thailand have had promising results in testing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate on mice, and has begun testing on monkeys. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A long-tailed macaque which is kept for use in the clinical research is seen inside cage at National Primate Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi Province, north of Bangkok, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Thai health officials said that scientists in Thailand have had promising results in testing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate on mice, and has begun testing on monkeys. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) (Sakchai Lalit)
Members of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces attend the annual live fire exercise at the Higashi-Fuji firing range in Gotemba in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, Saturday, May 23, 2020.(Charly Triballeau/Pool Photo via AP)
Members of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces attend the annual live fire exercise at the Higashi-Fuji firing range in Gotemba in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, Saturday, May 23, 2020.(Charly Triballeau/Pool Photo via AP) (Charly Triballeau)
Members of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force attend during an annual live firing exercise at Higashi Fuji range in Gotemba, southwest of Tokyo Saturday, May 23, 2020. (Charly Triballeau/Pool Photo via AP)
Members of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force attend during an annual live firing exercise at Higashi Fuji range in Gotemba, southwest of Tokyo Saturday, May 23, 2020. (Charly Triballeau/Pool Photo via AP) (Charly Triballeau)
CORRECTS SLUG: Red tape blocks off some seats in an attempt to promote social distancing at a movie theater which reopened on May 22, in Kyoto, western Japan, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Japan has lifted the coronavirus state of emergency in Osaka and the two neighboring prefectures of Kyoto and Hyogo while keeping the measure in place in the Tokyo region and the northernmost island of Hokkaido. (Kyodo News via AP)
CORRECTS SLUG: Red tape blocks off some seats in an attempt to promote social distancing at a movie theater which reopened on May 22, in Kyoto, western Japan, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Japan has lifted the coronavirus state of emergency in Osaka and the two neighboring prefectures of Kyoto and Hyogo while keeping the measure in place in the Tokyo region and the northernmost island of Hokkaido. (Kyodo News via AP) (Uncredited)
A butcher serves customers during 'Meugang', a local tradition where people shop for meat one day prior to the Eid al Fitr to be cooked and served during the holiday that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, amid concerns of the new coronavirus outbreak, at Geudong market in North Aceh, Indonesia, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Indonesia has seen a surge in coronavirus infections ahead of Sunday's celebrations marking the end of Ramadan, raising questions about the commitment to the virus fight from both the government and the public. (AP Photo/Zik Maulana)
A butcher serves customers during 'Meugang', a local tradition where people shop for meat one day prior to the Eid al Fitr to be cooked and served during the holiday that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, amid concerns of the new coronavirus outbreak, at Geudong market in North Aceh, Indonesia, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Indonesia has seen a surge in coronavirus infections ahead of Sunday's celebrations marking the end of Ramadan, raising questions about the commitment to the virus fight from both the government and the public. (AP Photo/Zik Maulana) (Zik Maulana)
Visitors wearing mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus takes shelter from a sudden rainstorm in Beijing on Saturday, May 23, 2020. New coronavirus cases dropped to zero in China for the first time Saturday but overwhelmed hospitals across Latin America – both in countries lax about lockdowns and those lauded for firm, early confinement. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Visitors wearing mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus takes shelter from a sudden rainstorm in Beijing on Saturday, May 23, 2020. New coronavirus cases dropped to zero in China for the first time Saturday but overwhelmed hospitals across Latin America – both in countries lax about lockdowns and those lauded for firm, early confinement. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (Ng Han Guan)