South Korea records a spike in Covid infections with 386 new cases as Asia ...

Rising cases of Covid in Asia are causing alarm and could lead to harsh new measures, months after many of its countries were praised for their handling of the pandemic.

South Korea, which has been heralded as the model for controlling the crisis, reported 386 new daily cases on Saturday.

The resurgence could force authorities to reimpose stronger social distancing restrictions after easing them in October to spur a faltering economy.

Fans wearing face masks pile into a baseball game in South Korea despite fears over rising infection rates

Fans wearing face masks pile into a baseball game in South Korea despite fears over rising infection rates

An attendee stands in a sterilizer as a precaution against the virus as he arrives for a defense expo in Goyang, South Korea

An attendee stands in a sterilizer as a precaution against the virus as he arrives for a defense expo in Goyang, South Korea

The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency raised the country's total number of confirmed cases to 30,403, including 503 deaths.

More than 270 of the new cases have come from the Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to track transmissions in schools, private tutoring academies and religious facilities.

Infections were also reported in other major cities, including Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju and Asan.

South Korea has so far managed to weather the pandemic without major lockdowns, relying instead on an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign and mask wearing.

The country, which has often been heralded as the model for controlling the crisis, reported 386 new daily cases on Saturday

The country, which has often been heralded as the model for controlling the crisis, reported 386 new daily cases on Saturday

Officials eased distancing measures to the lowest level in October, which allowed high-risk venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and fans to return to professional sports.

But the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases said the country could be reporting more than 1,000 new infections a day in a week or two if social distancing measures are not effectively strengthened.

'Covid-19 transmissions are occurring in large numbers simultaneously across the country, and in some regions, the pace of infections has already overwhelmed local capacities for contact tracing,' the doctors' group said.

Meanwhile in Japan, the government-backed GoTo campaign to encourage travel and dining out is being scaled back.

In Japan, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached a record for the third day straight on Saturday, at 2,418

In Japan, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached a record for the third day straight on Saturday, at 2,418

Japan has never had a total lockdown and has had fewer than 2,000 deaths so far related to coronavirus

Japan has never had a total lockdown and has had fewer than 2,000 deaths so far related to coronavirus

It came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached a record for the third day straight on Saturday, at 2,418. 

Russia announces record cases for fourth time in a week

Russia has reported a new daily high in the number of coronavirus infections and deaths.

The national coronavirus taskforce said 24,822 new cases were recorded over the past day, the fourth time in a week that a new high has been tallied.

It said a record 467 people died of Covid-19.

The surge in infections is straining Russia's vast but underfunded healthcare system, with many infected people reportedly forced to search for sparse hospital beds.

Overall, Russia has recorded more than 2,064,000 cases and 35,778 deaths.

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the decision at a government panel on coronavirus pandemic measures.

Stressing the need for 'utmost caution', he said the campaign's travel discounts will no longer apply to hard-hit areas, and discounts on eating out will end

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