The latest developments in Asia related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:
– Singapore to close schools, workplaces –
Singapore will close schools and most workplaces while people are being told to stay home, as the city-state ramps up curbs to stem the spread of the virus.
The country has generally been successful in keeping the outbreak in check, and had previously resisted imposing the kind of tough restrictions seen elsewhere.
But Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it was time to apply a “circuit breaker” following a sharp rise in locally transmitted cases.
– Oil extends gains –
Crude prices bounced back in Asian trade from earlier losses, to extend the previous day’s record surge following reports that exporting cartel OPEC had called an emergency meeting for next week.
The news reinforced optimism in the embattled oil market after US President Donald Trump claimed Russia and Saudi Arabia were set to slash output.
– China to hold mourning for virus victims –
China will hold a national mourning event on Saturday to commemorate those who died in its fight against the virus, including 14 frontline workers.
Starting at 10 am, all people nationwide will observe a three-minute silence and cars, trains and ships will sound their horns, alongside the wails of air raid sirens, said the State Council.
– Australia tells virus-stricken cruise ships to go home –
Australia insisted it would not let the crew of multiple virus-stricken cruise ships into the country, slapping aside suggestions it was falling short on legal and moral obligations.
More than a dozen ships are believed to be off Australia’s coast, carrying around 15,000 crew and some experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.
– Thai curfew to begin –
Thailand will begin enforcing a six-hour curfew from Friday night in a bid to control the virus’s spread, and has warned that anyone who breaches the order faces a two-year jail term.
The curfew runs from 10 pm to 4 am and bars everyone in the country from leaving their home, except for workers in essential services.
– Indonesia releases prisoners –
Indonesia has freed 29,000 people from jail in a bid to prevent coronavirus from wreaking havoc on its notoriously overcrowded prison system.
The lightning-fast release, which only started this week, is equivalent to more than 10 percent of the Southeast Asian nation’s prison population of some 270,000, crammed into jails routinely criticised for deplorable conditions.
– Modi candle call –
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on Indians to hold candles and mobiles aloft for nine minutes on Sunday in order to dispel the “darkness and uncertainty” of the coronavirus crisis.
“Friends, amidst the darkness spread by the corona pandemic, we must continuously progress towards light and hope,” Modi said in an address to the nation of 1.3 billion people under a lockdown since March 25.
– Sumo tournaments postponed as Japan cases spread –
Two sumo tournaments scheduled for later this year have been postponed, the Japan Sumo Association said — the latest sporting events to fall victim to the coronavirus.
The next sumo “basho” or tournament, scheduled to open on May 10 in Tokyo — host city of the next Olympics, which have been postponed to 2021 — will be delayed by two weeks, the JSA said. The July basho suffered the same fate.
– Aussie plane delivers pizza to locked-down outback –
Pizza and beer are being delivered by plane to remote ranches in the Australian outback in an attempt to bring a slice of cheer to those in extreme isolation under the virus lockdown.
The Dunmarra Wayside Inn, a roadside diner in Australia’s Northern Territory, used a small fixed-wing aircraft for a trial run of what it hopes will become a weekly flying takeaway service to far-flung cattle stations.
© Agence France-Presse
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