Asia Virus Latest

Airport health officials check passengers for required documents such as COVID-19 coronavirus test certificates at the Soekarno-Hatta Jakarta International airport in Tangerang on 15 May, 2020. (AFP Photo)

Here are the latest developments from Asia related to the novel coronavirus pandemic: 

Japan Lifts Emergency For Most Regions

Japan's prime minister lifted a state of emergency imposed due to the coronavirus for the majority of the country but kept it in place for top cities Tokyo and Osaka. After fears the virus could explode in Japan, new infections have come down sharply, enabling the government to end the measure in 39 out of 47 prefectures before it was due to expire on 31 May. 

China Rejects US Claims Of Attempted Vaccine Theft

Beijing accused the United States (US) of smearing China after Washington alleged Chinese hackers were attempting to steal research on developing a vaccine against the coronavirus. The claims have added fuel to tensions between the global superpowers, who have traded barbs over the origin of the pandemic.

Crewcuts And Catch-Ups As New Zealand Lockdown Ends

New Zealanders mingled with friends and hit the shopping malls for the first time in seven weeks as a national lockdown ended and businesses faced a "new normal" minimising the constant threat of coronavirus. A long-awaited haircut was the top priority for many Kiwis after almost two months in isolation, with queues of tangle-headed customers forming at barbers before dawn.

Nearly 600,000 Australians Lose Jobs As Lockdown Bites

Almost 600,000 Australians lost their jobs as the virus shutdown took hold in April, the steepest monthly drop since records began more than 40 years ago. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said 100,000 people filed for unemployment benefits, while a further 500,000 left the workforce altogether.

Bangladesh Builds Mega Field Hospital As Outbreak Worsens

Bangladesh has prepared a huge field hospital in three weeks to treat coronavirus patients in an attempt to fight the intensifying outbreak in the country. The South Asian nation has reported nearly 18,000 infections and 269 deaths from COVID-19 despite a countrywide lockdown, but critics say the numbers are far lower than the true virus figures because of insufficient testing.

Thousands Cram Into Indonesian Airport Terminal

Thousands crammed into a terminal at Jakarta's main airport, breaking social distancing rules after the Indonesian government lifted a ban on air travel imposed to fight the spread of the virus. Images of the scene went viral online, prompting airport officials to intervene and separate baggage-laden travellers. The flight ban was relaxed last week, earlier than originally anticipated, even as the number of cases continues to rise sharply in Indonesia.  

Maldives Extends Lockdown As Cases Rise

The Maldives extended its lockdown for another two weeks as the former tourist hotspot reported its fourth coronavirus fatality and the pandemic spread rapidly in the congested capital Male.

Stocks Sink After Fed Chief Issues Warning

Asian equities sank following another sell-off in New York after the head of the Federal Reserve (Fed) warned of "lasting damage" to the economy from shutdowns caused by the coronavirus, compounding worries about a second wave of infections.

Pro Golf Resumes In South Korea

Birdsong and the rattle of the ball dropping into the cup – accompanied by camera shutters – were the only sounds to be heard as professional women's golf entered the post-coronavirus era on a closed South Korean course. Spectators were barred from the Lakewood Country Club as the KLPGA Championship got under way in Yangju, northeast of Seoul, with a host of social distancing measures in place to guard against infection. 

Aussie Soap Neighbours Promises Sparks Despite Virus

Sparks will continue to fly on Australian soap opera Neighbours even though the stars must keep their distance, the show's creators promised after production resumed following a virus hiatus. The long-running Melbourne-based drama – which launched the careers of several stars including Kylie Minogue – is one of the first shows to press ahead with filming under strict social distancing rules as the television industry adapts to new norms. - AFP