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Asia virus latest: Japan cases surge, schools to reopen in Wuhan

woman (C), wearing a face mask amid Vietnam’s nationwide social isolation effort as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus holds her dog on the century-old Long Bien bridge in Hanoi on April 18, 2020. Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

AFP – Here are the latest developments from Asia related to the novel coronavirus pandemic

– Japan cases top 10,000 with hospitals stretched –

Japanese medics are warning more must be done to prevent the coronavirus from overwhelming the country’s healthcare system, as confirmed cases passed 10,000 despite a nationwide state of emergency.

Experts have been alarmed by a recent spike in coronavirus infections, with hundreds detected daily.

Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University who has repeatedly criticised Japan’s response to the pandemic, warned he is “pessimistic” the postponed Olympics can be held even in 2021.

– Tale of two cities: Singapore faces record surge, HK reports zero cases –

Asia’s rival financial hubs, Singapore and Hong Kong, are facing markedly different fortunes as they battle the virus.

Hong Kong said it detected no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours — its first daily tally of zero since March 5.

But the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore reported a record jump of 1,426 virus cases, taking its total to 8,014 including 11 deaths. More infections were detected in dormitories housing foreign workers.

– New Zealand to ease virus lockdown next week –





New Zealand will ease a nationwide lockdown next week after claiming success in stopping “an uncontrolled explosion” of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“We have done what very few countries have been able to do,” Ardern said. “We have stopped a wave of devastation.”

The country has been one of the most successful in containing the virus, with around 1,100 known cases among the five-million population, including 12 deaths and 974 recovered patients.

– India eases curbs for some sectors –

India eased a weeks-long virus lockdown for the agriculture and manufacturing sectors to support the economy, but many said they were struggling to restart their operations.

Rural workers have been particularly hard hit by the lockdown which started in late March, and is now set to go on until early May.

The government said it would also convert part of the country’s surplus rice harvest to ethanol for the production of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, in an effort to address shortages.

– Schools to re-open in China epicentre –

Final-year high school students in the province at the epicentre of China’s virus outbreak will return to classrooms from May 6, officials said — the latest easing of restrictions as the country’s domestic outbreak is brought under control.

Schools have been closed in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province since January, when lockdown measures were brought in to try and contain the spread of the virus.

– Japan’s ANA slashes profit forecast –

Japanese airline ANA Holdings slashed its annual net profit forecast by 71 percent over massive declines in demand and major cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

For the past fiscal year to March 2020, the firm said it now expects a net profit of 27 billion yen ($251 million), down from an earlier projection of 94 billion yen.

– Macau gambles on shift away from casinos –

Macau’s new leader used his first policy address to say the virus had reinforced the city’s determination to become less reliant on gambling.

Ho Iat-seng, a Beijing loyalist, said he wanted to diversify the economy away from the city’s lucrative entertainment sector, which has taken a hit due to virus-linked closures.

– Virus wipes away Afghan toilet-paper maker’s expansion plan –

Afghan toilet paper entrepreneur Zuhal Atmar overcame patriarchy and security threats to build a business that was set to go global due to a coronavirus-induced shortage.

But then, the supply of her key raw material — trash — dried up.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a lockdown in Kabul, forcing scavengers off the streets and slashing access to the waste paper and cardboard which Atmar recycles into pink-and-white toilet roll.

– Sri Lanka delays polls to June –

Sri Lanka rescheduled to June 20 parliamentary elections already delayed by the pandemic.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in early March called a snap election for April 25, but the Election Commission later that month put off the polls indefinitely, depending on how quickly the virus could be tackled.

Sri Lanka on Monday removed a 24-hour curfew in many districts, leaving it enforced only at night because of progress containing the viral spread, the president’s office said.

New coronavirus has infected 305 people and killed seven in Sri Lanka, the government says.

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