Asia Today: Beijing’s daily cases are falling, India is rising sharply

Asia Today: Beijing's daily cases are falling, India is rising sharply

BEIJING (AP) – Chinese capital Beijing reported a drop in recently confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday as the city continued to take stricter measures to contain a new outbreak.

Beijing reported 21 cases, down from 31 on Wednesday. The national total of 28 included four brought from outside the country by Chinese travelers and three in Tianjin City and Hebei Province, both of which are adjacent to Beijing.

No new deaths were reported, leaving the total number of fatalities at 4,634, amid 83,293 cases since the virus was first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Only 265 people remain in treatment, while another 118 are observed in quarantine because they are suspected of having the virus or after testing positive without showing any symptoms.

Beijing has moved this week to suspend classes and limit tourism and travel in and out of the city to curb further spread in the latest outbreak leading to the city’s largest wholesale market.

Flights to the city’s two major airports have also been cut by more than half, and the city’s top official says his government is determined not to allow the profits made from the eradication of the virus to slip away because of further local broadcasts.

Also, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged China to disclose everything about the coronavirus outbreak believed to have originated in the country. Pompeo with the top diplomat of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, Yang Jiechi, on Wednesday in Hawaii.

Pompeo “emphasized the need for full transparency and information sharing to fight the persistent COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future outbreaks,” the State Department said in a statement.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

– India recorded the highest one-day increase with 12,281 cases of coronavirus, bringing the total caseload to 366,946, but the government is excluding a reclassification across the country. India’s total mortality reached 12,237, up from 334 in the past 24 hours, according to a statement by the Ministry of Health on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejects a new shutdown, saying the country should consider further unlocking and minimizing all possibilities of harm to people. The closure that was imposed nationally on March 25 is now limited to risk areas. When it was imposed, unemployed workers stranded in the major cities of India had to walk long distances to their native villages, a migration that left them without food and risked further spreading the virus.

– South Korea reported 59 cases, as infections continue to increase steadily in the larger capital area. Figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday brought the national workload to 12,257, including 280 deaths. It said 39 of the new cases came from Seoul and the metropolitan area, where health authorities have struggled to stop the transmissions amid increased economic activity and a reduced attitude towards social distance. Eight of the new cases related to international arrivals. Health officials have expressed concern that the flare-up of the virus in China would also lead to an increase in imported cases. South Korea requires two-week quarantines for all passengers coming from abroad.

– New Zealand reported another case to a traveler who was quarantined after arriving in Pakistan. New Zealand appears to have eliminated the community’s transmission of the virus, but recently confirmed three. In addition, New Zealand’s economy contracted by 1.6% in the first three months of the year, although that decline is likely to be contained in the second quarter. Figures released by Statistics New Zealand include the first week of blocking the virus, which lasted more than two months. Nevertheless, the GDP decline was the biggest in 29 years and confirmed the country is in recession. The figures compare GDP in the first quarter to the previous quarter. Under another measure, which compares GDP in the first quarter to the same quarter in 2019, the economy contracted by 0.2%.

– Two universities in the Australian capital plan plan to fly in 350 foreign students as Australia’s lucrative international education reopens after the pandemic blockade. Australian National University and Canberra University expect the chartered aircraft to fly students from Singapore in late July. Students would enter hotel quarantine upon arrival and will likely be the first foreign students to return to Australian campuses. Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says it is “more likely” that Australia will not allow general international travel before next year. International education has been Australia’s most lucrative export after mining.

– Hong Kong Disneyland opened its doors to visitors for the first time in almost five months on Thursday, with reduced capacity and social distance measures. The theme park will be temporarily closed at the end of January due to the coronavirus outbreak and will be the second Disney-themed park to reopen worldwide after Shanghai Disneyland. Small groups of visitors lined up for the park’s opening hours, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters drove by in a large taxi and waved at the enthusiastic crowd waiting to enter.

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