South Korea limits school numbers over coronavirus spike

South Korean schools have been re-opening in phases in a process that is continuing nationwide. A pupil holds his mother’s hand through the fence of Ochi Elementary School in Gwangju. (Yonhap via AP)
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Updated 29 May 2020

South Korea limits school numbers over coronavirus spike

  • Schools near locations linked to cases in Seoul will remain closed to all pupils

SEOUL: South Korea on Friday imposed limits on the number of pupils going to schools in and around Seoul as officials scramble to tackle fresh coronavirus cases that threaten the country’s success in containing the epidemic.
Only one in three pupils at kindergartens, elementary and middle schools in the Seoul metropolitan area — home to half the population — will be allowed to physically attend school each day, authorities said, with the others remote learning.
And a total of 502 schools near locations linked to cases in the capital area will remain closed to all pupils, a ministry official said.
Schools have been re-opening in phases in a process that is continuing nationwide.
South Korea endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease outside mainland China, but appears to have brought it under control thanks to an extensive “trace, test and treat” program while never imposing a compulsory lockdown.
Social distancing rules were relaxed and the country was returning largely to normal until this week, when it re-imposed some measures in the capital and the surrounding region following fresh clusters of cases.
The South on Thursday reported its biggest spike in new infections in nearly two months, but Friday’s increase fell to 58, taking its total to 11,402.
An outbreak at a warehouse of e-commerce firm Coupang in Bucheon, west of Seoul, has seen a total of 96 cases as of Friday, said the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.
“We have been advising Coupang employees and their family members” not to visit any schools, said vice education minister Park Baeg-beom.
Museums, parks and art galleries were closed again from Friday for two weeks, while companies were urged to re-introduce flexible working.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said officials are looking to import the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients.
The medicine — originally developed to treat Ebola — has already been authorized for emergency coronavirus use in the US and Japan.


AstraZeneca still waiting for FDA decision to resume US trial

Updated 24 September 2020

AstraZeneca still waiting for FDA decision to resume US trial

  • AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was initially developed by the University of Oxford

FRANKFURT: AstraZeneca is still waiting for the go-ahead from the US drug regulator to restart the clinical trial of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said on Thursday.
“We are the sponsor of the US study. We then provided all this information to the FDA (US Federal Drug Administration) and we are waiting to hear their decision,” Soriot told a virtual World Economic Forum discussion.
The US trial of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, initially developed by the University of Oxford, remains on hold while regulators investigate an illness in one of the participants, even after a British study and other programs outside of the United States have resumed.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Wednesday the continued suspension showed the FDA took vaccine safety seriously.
A document posted online by Oxford university last week stated the illness in a British participant that triggered the pause on Sept. 6 may not have been associated with the vaccine.