From Bondi Beach in Australia to the streets of New Delhi, Asian authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the spread of the deadly new coronavirus amid fears of a second wave of infections in places where epidemics have come under control.
Tighter travel restrictions have been imposed in several countries as the number of cases in the region has soared to more than 95,000 – a third of infections worldwide, according to an AFP report.
Outside of China – where the virus was first detected in December and infected more than 80,000 people – South Korea is the hardest hit country in Asia with more than 8,500 cases.
While the number of infections in China has been decreasing for weeks, other countries are seeing the toll accelerate with the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Cases increased from about a third in Thailand overnight to almost 600, fueling skepticism about allegations of zero infection in neighboring Myanmar and Laos.
Three doctors caring for patients with the virus in Indonesia have died, bringing the country’s death toll to 48 with 514 confirmed infections.
Most of the cases are in Jakarta, where businesses have been closed for two weeks.
After closing its borders to foreigners and non-residents, Australia has asked citizens to also cancel domestic travel plans, with the number of cases exceeding 1,300.
Bondi Beach and several other popular swimming spots were closed after crowds of bathers challenged the ban on large outdoor gatherings.
Pubs, casinos, cinemas and places of worship will be closed for six months from Monday.
– Curfew in India –
Pakistan has suspended international flights to prevent the spread of the virus.
Officials in Sindh – the second most populous province in the country – ordered a lockup at midnight.
Pakistan has reported 5,650 suspected cases, 646 confirmed infections and three deaths from the virus.
In neighboring Bangladesh, however, only 27 cases have been reported, with two deaths.
Millions of people in India were locked out on Sunday as the government tested the country’s ability to fight the pandemic.
Officials said all private sector workers in New Delhi are scheduled to work from home this week, unless they provide an essential service. Most public transport will also be stopped.
Billionaire Anand Mahindra, whose vast business empire in the Mahindra group includes cars and real estate, said his manufacturing facilities would try to be reused to make fans.
Tests have increased in the country by 1.3 billion people, while the 360 reported cases, including seven deaths, greatly underestimate the real extent of the crisis.
People have taken their balconies in big cities after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Indians to thank medical workers and emergency workers by clapping or hitting pots and pans for five minutes at 5:00 p.m. Sunday.
The World Health Organization has called for “aggressive” action in Southeast Asia, fearing that a major epidemic will cripple the region’s often decrepit health systems.
– Second wave –
Authorities are now facing a second wave of infections in places where the outbreaks appear to have been brought under control as people return from abroad.
Singapore is banning all short-term visitors to the densely populated city state after an outbreak of imported cases brought its total to 445 – including its first two deaths on Saturday.
In Hong Kong, where the worst seemed to be over, the number of cases has almost doubled in the past week as more and more people return to the financial center.
Infections in Malaysia affected 1,306 people – more than half linked to an international Islamic gathering held last month, with participants later returning to Singapore and Indonesia with the virus.
In Sri Lanka, where 82 cases have been reported, guards shot detainees in a northern prison when they tried to escape, angry at the ban on family visits to prevent the spread of the virus.
Two convicts were killed and six others injured.
Authorities have also placed restrictions on the sale of two malaria treatments after fear of a drug rush after US President Donald Trump said they could be effective in preventing COVID infection -19 – although scientists agree that only more tests would determine if chloroquine really works and is safe.
Papua New Guinea, which has a confirmed infection, declared a 30-day state of emergency and interrupted domestic flights and public transport for two weeks.
Guam, who has 15 cases, confirmed that a 68-year-old woman died from COVID-19 – the first virus-related death in the Pacific.
burs-amj / ch / it