Asia Today: India's virus cases, deaths surge again
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Asia Today: India's virus cases, deaths surge again

Last Updated Jun 30, 2020 at 5:10 am ADT

Residents wearing masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus line up for COVID-19 test outside the Worker's Stadium in Beijing on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Test sites have sprung up through the Chinese capital as test have become a daily normal after the latest outbreak of the coronavirus, (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

NEW DELHI — India on Tuesday reported more than 18,000 new virus cases and 400 deaths after an Indian company said it would start clinical trials of a potential vaccine.

Bharat Biotech said it had received government permission to go ahead with the first two phases of clinical trials after initial studies demonstrated safety. Multiple vaccine trials are in a preclinical stage in India, and several other candidates are being tested around the world.

The new infections confirmed in the past 24 hours raised India’s cases to 566,840, the fourth-highest in the world. The addition of 418 deaths raised its fatalities to more 16,000, according to India’s health ministry. Experts say the true toll of the disease around the world is much higher.

India’s outbreaks were initially concentrated in the country’s largest cities, like the capital, New Delhi, and financial hub Mumbai. But worrying increases are occurring in smaller cities with fragile health systems, like Jaipur in the northern state of Rajasthan or Patna in the eastern state of Bihar.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea’s professional baseball league will require fans to wear masks, sit at least a seat apart and prohibit them from eating food in the stands when spectators are allowed back into stadiums. The Korea Baseball Organization said teams will be initially allowed to sell 30% of seats. Fans must buy tickets with credit cards to help trace contacts of any virus carriers. South Korea’s moves to reallow fans in sporting events come despite a virus resurgence. South Korea reported 43 new cases Tuesday but has resisted stronger social distancing measures to avoid hurting the economy. Statistics Korea said the country’s industrial output declined for the 5th straight month in May.

— China confirmed 19 new cases as those infected in the capital Beijing’s June outbreak started being released from hospital. Of the new cases, seven were reported in Beijing and one in the eastern financial centre of Shanghai, while 11 others were brought by Chinese travellers from outside the country, according to the National Health Commission. The first patient from Beijing’s latest outbreak to be discharged, a 56-year-old man surnamed He, said he had stopped at the Xinfadi market’s beef and mutton section for about 20 minutes on June 3. The market had been the centre of the new outbreak that has infected more than 230 people. “When I went to the market, I occasionally pulled down my mask as it was hot that day. Maybe that is how I contracted the virus,” Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying.

The Associated Press

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