Asia Today: S. Korean students take exams amid viral spike


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including 35 confirmed COVID-19 patients, took the highly competitive university entrance exam Thursday despite a viral resurgence that forced authorities to toughen social distancing rules.

The Education Ministry said about 493,430 students were taking the one-day exam at about 1,380 sites across the nation. They include hospitals and other medical facilities with the 35 virus patients and hundreds of others placed under self-quarantine.

This year’s exams had been originally scheduled for November but were delayed due to the virus outbreak.

South Korea on Thursday reported 540 new cases. Last week it reimposed stringent distancing guidelines in the greater Seoul area and other places to try to suppress a spike in new infections.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

– India reported less than 40,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours for a fourth straight day as it awaits a vaccine rollout for its vast population. With 35,551 fresh infections, India’s confirmed tally crossed 9.5 million on Thursday. For more than three weeks, India’s single-day cases have remained below 50,000. The Health Ministry also reported 526 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 138,648. India doesn’t have any advance purchase agreement with any vaccine manufacturer. The Serum Institute of India, which has been testing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, says it will apply for an emergency approval by Indian authorities in two weeks. The institute is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. India’s Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories also is conducting tests on the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.


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