Asia virus latest: Olympic delay ‘inevitable’, India grounds flights Overseas spectators were already banned from Games’ venues since March.
(Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)
Asian nations are ramping up efforts to fight the deadly novel coronavirus, which has upended societies and sparked economic turmoil as it spreads around the world.
Here are the latest developments in the region:
– India grounds domestic flights –
India will ground all domestic passenger flights from Wednesday to combat the spread of the virus, having already banned incoming international arrivals and sealed most of its land borders.
Domestic Indian carriers flew some 144 million passengers last year.
Neighbouring Nepal will enforce a week-long lockdown starting Tuesday, and “restrict outdoor movement of individuals except for buying medicine and emergency activities,” said government spokesman Yubaraj Khatiwada.
– Chances grow of Olympic delay –
After weeks insisting the Tokyo Olympics would begin in July, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said postponing the Games may become “inevitable”.
It came as Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic committees announced they would not send teams to the Games if they are held this summer, and Australia’s Olympic committee told athletes to prepare for them to take place in 2021.
– Pakistan approves military deployment –
Pakistan authorised the army to deploy across the country to help the government with logistics and provide supplies, if needed, as well as help enforce any eventual curfew as the crisis worsens.
The orders came as health authorities confirmed 805 cases of coronavirus so far, including six deaths.
– Australian jobless in long queues –
In scenes not witnessed in Australia for decades, jobless people queued around the block at unemployment offices, while the forced closure of pubs, casinos, churches and gyms began at midday Monday.
Prime minister Scott Morrison warned the pandemic would cause an economic crisis akin to the Great Depression.
In neighbouring New Zealand, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the government would impose a four-week lockdown.
– Hong Kong bans non-residents –
The financial hub will bar entry for all non-residents from midnight Tuesday into Wednesday, its leader said, as it tries to halt a recent spike in virus infections from people returning from abroad. It will also ban transit at the airport.
It came a day after rival financial centre Singapore also barred all short-term visitors, except for citizens, permanent residents and some work permit holders.
Hong Kong said bars and restaurants could no longer serve alcohol.
– Singapore Airlines warns of ‘greatest challenge’ –
Singapore’s flag carrier, one of Asia’s leading airlines, warned it was facing the “greatest challenge” in its existence as it grounded almost all its planes until the end of April.
The airline will also implement salary cuts as well as a voluntary unpaid leave scheme.
– Indonesia converts Games village to hospital –
Indonesia, which has the highest death toll from the pandemic in Southeast Asia at 48, has converted an athlete’s village built for the 2018 Asian Games into an emergency hospital for coronavirus patients.
The facility in the capital Jakarta, where a state of emergency has been declared, opens Monday with initial capacity for 3,000 patients in the 10-tower complex.
– Thailand labour exodus –
Tens of thousands of migrant labourers from Laos and Myanmar flooded bus stations and border crossings in Thailand, defying requests to stay put to prevent exporting infections.
Laos and Myanmar — two of Southeast Asia’s least developed countries — both claim they have no cases of COVID-19. Thailand has reported 721 infections.
And in Cambodia, 31 French nationals from a tour group tested positive for the coronavirus and were placed under quarantine in a hotel. Cambodia has reported 87 COVID-19 cases including the tourists.
– What crisis? Japanese admire cherry blossoms –
The snowballing pandemic could not put off Japanese from celebrating the country’s famed cherry blossoms, with people packing into traditional viewing hotspots over the weekend.
Tokyo’s governor said taking cherry blossom parties away from the Japanese was like “taking hugs away from Italians”.