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.


Four in Daniel Pearl case to remain jailed in Pakistan for now

Updated 34 min 58 sec ago

Four in Daniel Pearl case to remain jailed in Pakistan for now

  • A Karachi court sparked outrage when it acquitted British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men who had been convicted of Pearl’s murder
  • The men were kept in custody following their acquittals, under a law allowing authorities to detain high-profile militants for three months

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities renewed the detention orders Thursday for four men whose convictions in the kidnapping and killing of US journalist Daniel Pearl had been overturned, meaning they will remain jailed at least three more months, an official said.
A Karachi court sparked outrage in April when it acquitted British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men convicted in Pearl’s 2002 kidnapping and beheading.
The men were kept in custody following their acquittals, under a law allowing authorities to detain high-profile militants for three months.
“We have received orders from the (provincial) government for them to be detained for a further three months,” a prisons official in Karachi’s Sindh province told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Pakistan’s supreme court is expected to hear an appeal of the acquittal cases in September.
Pearl, 38, was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story on extremists.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later.
Observers at the time said the killers were acting out of revenge for Pakistan’s support of the US-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.