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Asia Today: Sydney outbreak grows; Thailand sees big jump – The Associated Press

SYDNEY (AP) — The outbreak in Sydney’s northern beach suburbs has grown to 70 cases with an additional 30 in the last 24 hours, and authorities say they may never be able to trace the source.

While the numbers are rising, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Sunday there hasn’t been evidence of massive seeding outside the northern beaches community. A new list of cases, however, shows the virus had spread to greater Sydney and other parts of the state.

The government has imposed a lockdown in the area until Wednesday. Residents will only be permitted to leave their homes for five basic reasons, including medical care, exercise, grocery shop, work or for compassionate care reasons.

State Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said that contact tracers are yet to locate patient zero, but an extensive investigation is underway.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea has recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the fifth consecutive day, putting pressure on authorities to enforce the toughest distancing rules that would further hurt the economy. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency says it’s found 1,097 additional cases over the past 24-hour period, the highest daily tally since the pandemic began. That puts the national caseload at 49,665, including 674 deaths. About 70% of the new cases come from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the center of a viral resurgence. The pace of the spread has already met government conditions for raising social distancing rules to their highest level. But officials have been reluctant to move forward with the measure out of worries for the economy. The new step would ban a gathering of more than 10 people and shut hundreds of thousands of non-essential businesses.

— Thailand on Sunday reported two new local infections, a day after identifying more than 500 cases south of Bangkok in a country that had largely brought the pandemic under control. The 548 cases on Saturday, most of them linked to the country’s biggest wholesale seafood market, come after Thailand saw only a small number of infections over the past several months due to strict border and quarantine controls. On Sunday, a 78-year-old seafood vendor in Bangkok who had visited the shrimp market in Samut Sakhon province tested positive. The other case was a woman in central Thailand who worked at a beauty parlor in the north. Health officials say most of the cases at the seafood market are migrant workers from Myanmar. The governor imposed a night curfew and other travel restrictions in Samut Sakhon province until Jan. 3.

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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