Hot Off The Press

These are the top stories making the front pages of major newspapers from across Southeast Asia today. 

Get up to speed with what’s happening in the fastest growing region in the world.  

China Covid-19 death toll nears 1,500; over 64,000 infections

The death toll from China’s Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic rose to 1,483 on Friday, but the number of new infections in hard-hit Hubei province fell after a change in case definitions caused a massive increase the previous day.

The central province’s health commission reported 116 more deaths and 4,823 new cases, the majority involving “clinically diagnosed” patients.

The province, the epicentre of the outbreak, had 242 more deaths and over 14,800 new cases on Thursday. – The New Straits Times

Ending VFA OK with Trump: ‘It will save a lot of money’

US President Donald Trump said he did not mind President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), but Sen. Panfilo Lacson and the top American military commander in Asia-Pacific warned on Thursday that the loss of the accord would undermine the counterterrorism efforts of the Philippines.

“I don’t really mind if they would like to do that, it will save a lot of money,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “My views are different from others.” – Philippine Daily Inquirer

President vows to keep country on democratic path

President U Win Myint vowed on Thursday not to let dictatorship return to Myanmar, and to intensify efforts to move the country to full democracy. 

“We aim for true democracy that can guarantee basic human rights,” he said at the unveiling of a statue of independence hero Bogyoke Aung San in Nay Pyi Taw. “We will try hard to prevent the return of an authoritarian government and a political system that oppresses and mistreats people.” – Myanmar Times

Doctors at China's coronavirus epicentre Wuhan overworked and unprotected

Tired and understaffed, medical workers have had to deal with thousands of new cases per week in Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the outbreak that first emerged late last year.

Many doctors have had to see patients without proper masks or protective body suits, resorting to reusing the same equipment when they should be changed regularly. – The Straits Times

Public anger grows in aftermath of mall shooting

The mass shooting spree in Nakhon Ratchasima has fuelled public disappointment and anger at the role of the army and the government in their handling of the situation. The negative public sentiment is likely to be a result of the unprecedented level of violence among other factors.

Prakasit Sangkra, a lawyer, said the backlash could be a result of the army's failure to perform its duty to protect people in an incident which killed 30 and injured 58. – Bangkok Post