What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

11 May 2020 - 08:02 By Reuters
Soldiers stand guard at an entrance of the red zone under enhanced lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia May 11, 2020.
Soldiers stand guard at an entrance of the red zone under enhanced lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia May 11, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Here's what you need to know about the novel coronavirus right now:

Second wave alarm

South Korean officials are scrambling to track down thousands of people after a small cluster of coronavirus cases emerged around several Seoul nightclubs.

The new outbreak, which has sent infections rebounding to a one-month high, comes just as the government was transitioning from intensive social distancing to measures around "distancing in daily life".

New cases were also reported on Sunday in northeast China and the central city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, in what could be the beginning of a new wave of cases there.

The new Wuhan case, the first reported in the epicentre of China's outbreak since April 3, was previously asymptomatic, according to the Hubei provincial health commission, highlighting the potential for new clusters of infections due to carriers who do not look ill or have a fever.

Disneyland reopens

About thirty annual passholders in Mickey Mouse outfits waited in yellow squares drawn on the ground outside Shanghai Disneyland as it ended a roughly three-month closure on Monday.

Social distancing, masks, temperature screenings and visitor numbers "far below" 24,000 people, which is 30% of daily capacity, a level requested by the Chinese government, mark the milestone reopening, which has been closely watched to see how the company might recover from the pandemic that has forced it to shut parks in Asia, the United States and France, as well as operations at its retail stores and cruise ships.

Lengthy rebuttal

China's foreign ministry posted a 30-page, 11,000-word article on its website late on Saturday, rebutting what it said were 24 "preposterous allegations" by U.S. politicians over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Similar to an animated video posted online by China's official Xinhua news agency featuring Lego-like figures, the article provided a timeline of how China had provided information about the coronavirus to the international community in a "timely ... open and transparent" manner, to rebuke U.S. suggestions that it had been slow to sound the alarm.

Men more vulnerable

Men's blood has higher levels than women's of an enzyme used by the new coronavirus to infect cells, the results of a big European study showed on Monday.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a receptor on the surface of cells that binds to the new coronavirus and allows it to enter and infect cells, is found in the heart, kidneys, the tissues lining blood vessels, and in particularly high levels in the testes.

Its presence in the testes might partially explain higher ACE2 concentrations in men, and why men are more vulnerable to COVID-19, those carrying out the study said.

Gaming the system to play Animal Crossing

Chinese fans of Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Horizons are paying up to 50% more for unlocked Switch consoles sold abroad and using code words to buy the game online as it is not licensed for sale in China's tightly regulated gaming industry.

The game has become a global bestseller as its players can create virtual versions of themselves and their homes and interact with other gamers in what they describe as a form of escapism from the real world of coronavirus lockdowns.

It has also become a political flashpoint after Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong used it to protest against Beijing's rule of the territory, prompting a mainland crackdown on illicit sales.