Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Doctors’ strike ends in South Korea
South Korean doctors have agreed to end a two-week strike which has complicated efforts to curb a new wave of coronavirus infections, after overnight talks about the government’s medical reform plans.
About 16,000 intern and resident doctors have been on strike since Aug. 21, over the reform proposals, which include increasing the number of doctors, building public medical schools, allowing state insurance to cover more oriental medicine, and expanding telemedicine.
The doctors argue it would only deepen the concentration of physicians in cities without improving poor medical infrastructure and work conditions in rural provinces.
The government had agreed to halt the reforms and discuss them again with the industry and the parliament once the coronavirus outbreak had stabilised, according to ruling party officials who brokered the agreement.
COVID-19 spreads on U.S. campuses, ‘Batman’ movie set
Indiana University at Bloomington on Thursday urged students living in fraternity and sorority houses to move out, citing an “alarming” rate of positive COVID-19 tests that marked the latest outbreak in the U.S. Midwest and at a college campus.
The university said on Twitter that positive tests for coronavirus were exceeding 50% in some Greek houses, higher than in dorms, and told fraternity and sorority members to “re-evaluate their current living situation.”
British actor Robert Pattinson has tested positive for COVID-19, news media reported on Thursday, halting production of “The Batman” north of London, and highlighting the industry’s struggles to get back to business under complex safety procedures that include testing, quarantine and social distancing on sets that employ dozens of crew members, makeup artists, actors, extras and other production staff.
Australia deaths jump, NZ keeps restrictions
Australia’s Victoria state reported a record 59 deaths on Friday, the highest ever daily total for the country, including previously unrecorded fatalities in aged care homes over the past several weeks.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s federal government is pushing state and territory governments to reopen borders as Australia tackles its first recession in almost 30 years. The national cabinet meeting is expected to discuss the potential of an agreed definition across the country for virus “hotspots”.
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday current restrictions to beat the spread of the coronavirus would be in place until at least mid-September. Auckland, the country’s largest city and the centre of a fresh outbreak, will remain on alert level 2.5 that limits gatherings to no more than 10 people.
Jump in rural India’s cases
The quaint, sugarcane-growing village of Rajewadi in India’s west did not have a single confirmed coronavirus case until mid-August. Now one in every four people there is positive for the virus, with police blaming a local religious event for the spread.
Such spurts in cases in small towns and villages, where mask wearing and social distancing have nearly vanished and community gatherings are back, explain why India’s infections are now rising faster than anywhere else in the world and why the country is soon set to top 4 million cases.
“In April and May, people were following all the rules but now the mentality has changed. They have become casual and are taking coronavirus lightly,” said Subhash Chavan, civil surgeon in Satara district where Rajewadi village is located. This trend has played out across India’s countryside where 60% of its 1.35 billion people live.