China and South Korea have reported new coronavirus cases in outbreaks that threaten to set back their recovery while US President Donald Trump said he told his government to reduce testing to avoid unflattering statistics showing rising infections.
Chinese authorities reported 25 new confirmed cases on Sunday – 22 in Beijing and three in neighbouring Hebei province.
It said 2.3 million people have been tested in an effort to contain the outbreak in the capital that led to the closure of its biggest wholesale food market.
In South Korea, authorities reported 48 new cases, with half in the capital Seoul. Ten were in the central city of Daejong, suggesting the virus was spreading more widely as anti-disease measures are relaxed.
The head of the World Health Organisation had warned on Friday the virus’s global spread was accelerating after a daily high of 150,000 new cases was reported the previous day.
At a campaign rally on Saturday, Mr Trump said he has told his administration to slow down virus testing. He said the United States has tested 25 million people but the “bad part” is that found more cases.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” Mr Trump said in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please’.”
The campaign of his likely Democratic rival in November’s presidential election, former vice president Joe Biden, accused Mr Trump of “putting politics ahead of the safety and economic well-being of the American people”.
Some governments including Spain and France are relaxing controls and reviving business activity. But case numbers are rising in South Africa, Brazil, the US and some other countries.
Brazil’s Health Ministry said on Saturday the total number of cases had risen by more than 50,000 from the previous day. President Jair Bolsonaro is downplaying the risks despite nearly 50,000 fatalities in three months.
South Africa reported a one-day high of 4,966 new cases on Saturday and 46 deaths. Despite the increase, President Cyril Ramaphosa this week announced a further loosening of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. Casinos, beauty salons and sit-down restaurant service will be allowed to reopen.
In the US, the state of Arizona reported 3,109 new infections, just short of Friday’s record, and 26 deaths. The state of Nevada also reported a new high of 445 cases.