SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea posted its highest number of new coronavirus cases in weeks on Wednesday, while India had another record increase with more than 6,000 cases in one day, as the pandemic increased its pressure on much of the planet.
Still, optimism about the reopening of economies after business closings to combat the virus caused a spike on Wall Street, despite the official death toll in the United States approaching 100,000.
Outbreaks continued to worsen in much of the Americas, while many countries in Asia and much of Europe were making progress to contain the deadliest pandemic in a century.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday that there were no COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. The country took aggressive and early measures to stop the infections and has only reported 21 deaths. It has 21 active cases, of the 1,504 between confirmed and probable.
In South Korea, the confirmation of 40 new cases – the highest daily increase in nearly 50 days – raised alarm when millions of children returned to schools.
All but four of the cases were in the populous region of Seoul, where authorities were trying to stop infections associated with nightclubs, karaoke rooms and an e-commerce warehouse. South Korea has recorded 269 deaths and 11,265 cases, after containing a serious outbreak months ago.
India had another record day with 6,387 new cases on Wednesday, as the government prepared guidelines for the next phase after two months of national quarantine, which is scheduled to end on Sunday.
In the Americas, from Mexico to Chile, authorities reported increases in cases and hospitals exceeded.
Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 5.6 million people and killed more than 350,000, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. Europe has recorded some 170,000 deaths, while the United States accounted for more than 98,900 in less than four months, more than Americans killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.
There is broad consensus that the actual death toll is significantly higher, as experts note that many victims died from the virus without being tested.
Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.