SEOUL – South Korea on Tuesday reported its lowest daily increase in coronavirus cases since Feb. 18, as the country restarts professional sports and prepares to reopen schools.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported three new infections and two more virus-related deaths, bringing the totals to 10,804 cases and 254 fatalities.
After reporting around 500 new cases daily in early March, infections have slowed over the past month amid tightened border controls and waning transmissions in the worst-hit city of Daegu, which reported zero new cases on Tuesday.
Health authorities remain concerned about a broader “quiet spread” and plan antibody tests to learn how widespread the virus is.
Officials have relaxed social distancing guidelines and decided to reopen schools in phased steps, starting with high school seniors on May 13.
The professional baseball league began its season Tuesday with pictures depicting fans filling vacant seats and cheers from the dugout easily heard in the quiet stadium. The pro soccer league will kick off under similar conditions on Friday.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— AUSTRALIA SUSPECTS MARKET ORIGIN: Australia’s prime minister still suspects the coronavirus originated in a Chinese wildlife market despite U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advocating a theory that it began in a laboratory. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he has written to Group of 20 government leaders calling for a “proper assessment” of the origin of and government responses to the pandemic. Pompeo has contended without offering proof that the virus began in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. China has dismissed calls for an independent inquiry.