Today’s coronavirus news: South Korea arrests leader of church with big cluster; India records highest daily jump of 57,000 cases; Mexico has third most COVID-19 deaths in the world

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

7:16 a.m.: China reported a more than 50% drop in new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday in a possible sign that its latest major outbreak in the northwestern region of Xinjiang may be waning.

The 45 new cases over the past 24 hours, 31 of them in Xinjiang, where the outbreak has been focused on the regional capital Urumqi, is down from 127 cases nationally on Friday, including 112 in Xinjiang.

The National Health Commission on Saturday also reported eight new cases in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where officials in the port city of Dalian have collected nucleic acid tests on more than 4 million people.

7:09 a.m.: Japan’s capital recorded 472 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the third straight day of record numbers.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike issued a warning in an online video, urging people to wash their hands, wear masks and visit those businesses that display the special city-backed stickers with the image of a rainbow, which indicates good social distancing.

Most people getting sick were in their 20s and 30s, highlighting how they may be putting their guard down and going out partying, according to officials. Nationwide, the daily count of coronavirus cases in Japan totalled a record 1,579 on Friday.

7:04 a.m.: The Australian state of Victoria has recorded three more deaths from the coronavirus and 397 additional cases, a significant drop from this week’s high.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said he understood the latest deaths were linked to aged care, where 1,008 cases are currently active. They take the national death toll to 201, including 116 in Victoria.

Authorities warned that many of those infected were failing to self-isolate at home. Andrews said he was looking at whether there needed to be changes in fines for people who have tested positive but were not at home when military personnel and public health officials came knocking.

6:50 a.m.: India recorded the steepest spike of 57,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking its coronavirus caseload close to 1.7 million, with July alone accounting for nearly 1.1 million infections.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 764 additional deaths for a total of 36,511. India’s Civil Aviation Ministry delayed resumption of international flights by another month until Aug. 31. But it will continue to allow several international carriers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East to operate special flights to evacuate stranded nationals.

4 a.m.: South Korean prosecutors arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect Saturday as part of an investigation into allegations that the church hampered the government’s anti-virus response after thousands of worshippers were infected in February and March.

Prosecutors in the central city of Suwaon have been questioning 88-year-old Lee Man-hee, chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, over charges that the church hid some members and under-reported gatherings to avoid broader quarantines.

The Suwon District Court early Saturday granted prosecutors’ request to arrest Lee over concerns that he could temper with evidence.

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Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they’re co-operating with health authorities. Its spokesperson, Kim Young-eun, said the church will do its best so that “the truth is clearly proved in court.”

More than 5,200 of the South Korea’s 14,336 COVID-19 cases have been linked to the church so far. Its branch in the southern city of Daegu emerged as the biggest cluster after infections spiked in late February.

1 a.m.: Mexico now has the third most COVID-19 deaths in the world, behind the United States and Brazil, while former success story Vietnam is struggling to control an outbreak spreading in its most famous beach resort.

Mexican health officials on Friday reported 688 new deaths, pushing the country’s total to 46,688. That put Mexico just ahead of the United Kingdom, which has 46,119, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University.

In Vietnam, a third person died of coronavirus complications, officials said Saturday, a day after it recorded its first-ever death as it struggles with a renewed outbreak after 99 days with no local cases.

All three died in a hospital in Da Nang, a hot spot with more than 100 cases in the past week. Thousands of visitors had been in the city for summer vacation and are now being tested in Hanoi and elsewhere.

Friday 5 p.m. Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 41,303 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,811 deaths, an increase of 114 new infections in 24 hours.

The province-wide case growth was dominated by increases in three health units Friday: There were 26 new reported infections in Ottawa, 21 in Windsor-Essex, and 20 in Toronto.

Still, July is ending with the province at its lowest rate of new infections since well before the pandemic first peaked in Ontario in the spring — at 116 cases per day over the last seven days.

Meanwhile, just two more fatal cases were reported, both in Toronto.

The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases. This means they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

The province cautions its separate data, published daily at 10:30 a.m., may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system. In the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

Click here to read more of Friday’s coverage.