South Korea has reported its biggest spike in coronavirus cases in nearly two months, as officials scramble to tackle fresh clusters that have raised concerns of a possible second wave of infections.

The country has been held up as a global model in how to curb the virus and has begun to ease restrictions, but is now rushing to contain new infections as life returns to normal.

Officials announced 79 new cases - taking its total to 11,344 - with most fresh infections from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

It was the largest increase since 81 cases were announced on 5 April.

An outbreak at a warehouse of an e-commerce firm in Bucheon near Seoul has seen 69 cases, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Around 4,100 workers and visitors to the building were under self-isolation, with more than 80% tested so far, a health minister told reporters.

"We are expecting the number of new cases linked to the warehouse to continue rising until today as we wrap up related tests," he added.

Social distancing rules have been relaxed in South Korea and facilities such as museums and churches have reopened.

Some professional sports - including baseball and soccer - started new seasons earlier this month, albeit behind closed doors.

Students have been returning to classes since last week, although some schools were forced to turn away their pupils over concerns of new virus cases in their neighbourhood.

The country endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease outside mainland China, and while it never imposed a compulsory lockdown, strict social distancing had been widely observed since March.

But it appears to have brought its outbreak under control thanks to an extensive "trace, test and treat" programme.

Deaths in Brazil are second highest in the world, behind the US

Brazil virus deaths reach over 25,000

Brazil's death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 25,000, as the country emerged as the latest epicenter in the global pandemic.

The health ministry said it had confirmed 1,086 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

It was the fifth time the number exceeded 1,000 since the crisis accelerated in Brazil a week ago.

That pushed the nationwide death toll to 25,598, the sixth-highest in the world.

The country of 210 million people now has 411,821 confirmed cases of the virus, second only to the United States.

Experts say under-testing means the real figures are probably much higher.

President Jair Bolsonaro is facing mounting criticism over his response to the health crisis.

The far-right leader has downplayed the seriousness of the virus and railed against stay-at-home measures, arguing the economic fallout risks causing more damage than the virus itself.

"The so-called second wave is coming: recession. It will affect everyone, without exception," he wrote on Facebook.

But most state governments have stuck to the World Health Organization's guidance and closed non-essential businesses.


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New York has been the worst hit city in the US

US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000

The United States has now recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported last night - the highest total in the world.

The country reported its first death about three months ago. Since then, nearly 1.7 million infections have been tallied nationwide, according to the Baltimore-based school.

The actual number of deaths and infections is believed to be higher, experts say.

In the last 24 hours, the death toll was on the rise once again, with 1,401 deaths added, after three straight days of tolls under 700. The full death toll stood at 100,396.

The state of New York has seen nearly a third of all coronavirus-related deaths in the US, where President Donald Trump ordered that flags fly at half-staff last weekend to honour the victims.

The first US virus death was reported on 26 February, though officials now say they believe that others may have died of Covid-19 before that.

The country passed the 50,000-death threshold barely more than a month ago.

The number of deaths per capita in the US is nevertheless lower than in several European countries, including Britain, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain.

Despite the grim toll, most US states are now moving towards ending the strict stay-at-home measures that were implemented to curb the spread of the virus.

FT study: Britain has highest death rate

Britain has suffered the highest death rate from the novel coronavirus among the most-affected countries with comparable tracking data, according to Financial Times research.

Official numbers from the Office for National Statistics released earlier this week show Britain has registered almost 60,000 more deaths than usual since the week ending 20 March. 

Subsequent analysis by the FT, which looked at data from 19 countries, indicate the virus has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million in the UK, the highest comparable figure.

According to this measure, the UK death rate exceeds those in other countries also badly affected by the pandemic, including the US, Italy, Spain and Belgium.

The Republic of Ireland was not included in the study but there has so far been 330 confirmed deaths per million from Covid-19 here.

Counting how many people died above a running average for the previous five years is considered by many experts to be the best way to give international comparisons, due to a lack of uniformity in the way countries collect data.

Britain has Europe's highest death toll from the pandemic, with more than 46,000 fatalities attributed to the virus by mid-May, according to ONS figures.

The UK government, whose separate tally of deaths confirmed by a positive test now stands at 37,460, has faced sustained criticism over its handling of the crisis.

According to the latest AFP tally the coronavirus death toll in Europe has now passed 175,000, making it the worst affected continent.

In addition, Italy - which does not count most deaths in care homes or the community - has officially suffered 33,072 deaths, France 28,596 and Spain 27,118.

The global number of deaths now stands at more than 355,000.