NEW DELHI (AP) – Confirmed coronavirus cases in India crossed half a million on Saturday with another record jump of 18,552 infections over 24 hours.
The Department of Health also reported 384 new deaths, bringing the total to 15,685.
The push prompted the state authorities in Assam, in the northeast of the country, to impose a two-week foreclosure in the state capital, Gauhati. About 700 new cases were reported there in just four days.
Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the rest of Assam would be subject to a night curfew and weekend closures.
He urged people to store essentials and reported a tighter foreclosure where even grocery stores would be closed.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
– China reported an increase in the number of new cases of coronavirus, one day after the country’s CDC said it expected an epidemic in Beijing to be brought under control soon. The National Health Commission said on Saturday that 21 cases had been confirmed across the country in the past 24 hours, including 17 in the national capital. The city authorities temporarily closed a huge wholesale food market where the virus has spread widely, closed schools and locked some areas. According to the Chinese CDC, the tests found only a few infected people unrelated to the market and the measures taken mean that the risk of spread is low, the official Xinhua news agency said. Anyone leaving Beijing must have a negative nucleic acid test within the previous seven days. Many Chinese travel for a four-day vacation weekend that ends on Sunday. China has reported 83,483 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths during the pandemic. People who test positive but show no symptoms are not included in the official number of cases.
– South Korea has reported 51 new confirmed cases of coronavirus as new clusters continue to emerge in the densely populated region of Seoul. They bring the national workforce to 12,653, including 282 deaths. Thirty-five of the new cases came from Seoul and neighboring towns and villages, which have been at the center of a COVID-19 resurgence since late May. Twelve others were linked to international arrivals. Health authorities are struggling to trace contacts and predict routes of infection with new clusters emerging from everywhere. Hundreds of infections have been linked to night clubs, church gatherings, restaurants, and low-income workers such as home sellers and warehouse workers. Authorities have so far resisted calls to reimpose tougher social distancing guidelines after relaxing them in mid-April, citing concerns about a fragile economy.
– Australian health authorities expect more cases of COVID-19 as hundreds of nationals return from abroad to start compulsory quarantine. About 300 people are expected to arrive in Adelaide this weekend from Mumbai, India, while hundreds are expected to come from South America and Indonesia. People quarantined at the hotel will be tested for coronavirus at the start and end of their 14-day isolation. South Australian State Minister of Health Stephen Wade said he was preparing 5-10% of returnees to be infected with the virus, as was the case when people returned from ‘Indonesia in other states. Melbourne recorded 30 new cases on Friday, continuing a series of double-digit increases that more than tripled active cases in Victoria to 183 in just over a week. To reduce the risk of new outbreaks during the two-week school vacation, nearly 5,000 infrared thermometers are shipped to popular state vacation spots. The thermometers will be used in test clinics on the Great Ocean Road tourist route and in the Victorian Alps ski area. Australia has recorded 104 deaths from COVID-19 and nearly 7,600 confirmed cases.
– Sri Lanka reopened its cinemas on Saturday as part of the island nation’s efforts to return to normal after more than two months of foreclosure to contain the coronavirus. Customers are required to follow health guidelines such as hand washing and wearing face masks. A seat must be left vacant between customers in order to maintain social distance, and cinemas are only allowed to reach half the capacity. Previously, Sri Lanka has reopened places of worship, animal parks and zoos. The country has confirmed 2,014 cases of coronavirus, including 11 deaths.
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