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A migrant worker is tested by security at a factory in Singapore. Photo: Ore Huiying/Getty Images

Japan and Singapore were glimmers of hope throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but now both countries are struggling to control the breakout as new waves of infections hit the two countries.

Why it matters: The new wave of outbreaks highlights holes in their health systems and response strategies.

In Singapore: The country reported a high of 942 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to almost 6,000, AP reports.

  • Foreign workers live in crowded factory dormitories, with 12-20 people sharing a room, and make up about 60% of Singapore's cases.
  • Migrant labor rights groups have warned for years that these conditions would eventually cause widespread problems, The Washington Post writes.
  • Tens of thousands of workers are quarantined to their rooms with some moving to safer places due to crowding.

In Japan: The country's often-praised hospital system is near its breaking point as hospitals are being forced to turn away patients and struggle with staff and equipment shortages, AP writes.

  • Japan's initial plan to close spaces like clubs and gyms initially worked, but the virus still spread with many new cases being untraceable.
  • Some Japanese emergency rooms are even turning away patients suffering from strokes, heart attacks or external injuries.
  • Experts blame the government for not embracing social distancing, a shortage of medical gear and equipment for the worsening situation, per AP.
  • There are fears that Japan's outbreak could worsen.

Elsewhere:

  • South Korea has had success controlling the outbreak through mass testing and quickly flattened the curve of outbreaks. However, more than 160 patients tested positive for the virus after initially recovering from it — suggesting the virus lasts longer than initially anticipated, The Wall Street Journal notes.
  • In China, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian said China's numbers changes show that Beijing is likely responding to both domestic and international pressure regarding how it evaluates the number of dead in Wuhan.

Go deeper... Map: World coronavirus updates

Go deeper

FBI report likely to show record increase in murders in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If the FBI data released next week shows what's expected — that 2020 saw the highest single-year spike in U.S. murders in at least six decades — experts say the sudden job losses, fears and other jolts to society at the start of COVID-19 will likely have been the overwhelming drivers.

Why it matters: Many Democrats already feared that rising crime could hurt their party in the 2022 midterms.

9 mins ago - Health

Some experts see signs of hope as COVID cases fall

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New coronavirus cases are continuing to decline, and some experts are cautiously optimistic that the virus will continue to wane even into the fall and winter.

The big picture: The next few months are highly uncertain, and some localized outbreaks are all but guaranteed. But the U.S. is at least moving in the right direction again.

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.