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South Korea leads virus success in Asia as drug trial raises hope

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AFP


South Korea, once one of the hardest-hit countries in the coronavirus pandemic, reported no new cases on Thursday, boosting hopes of an eventual return to normality as US scientists hailed the results of a major drug trial.

The good medical news caused equities to rally, despite mounting deaths worldwide and abysmal economic figures caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Data showed the pandemic, which has killed more than 224,000 people, has plunged the United States into its worst economic slump in a decade, and has left Germany expecting its biggest recession since the aftermath of World War II.

But for the first time since the new disease was detected there in mid-February, South Korea reported zero new infections.

The East Asian nation had the world’s second-largest coronavirus outbreak for a period after the virus emerged in China late last year.

But with an aggressive test-and-trace strategy and widespread social distancing, it has managed to bring the spread of the pathogen under control.

“This is the strength of South Korea and its people,” said President Moon Jae-in as he announced the milestone.

Meanwhile in the first proof of successful treatment, a clinical trial of the drug remdesivir showed that patients recovered about 30 percent faster than those on a placebo.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” said Anthony Fauci, the top US epidemiologist.