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Tuesday, April 07, 2020, 23:18
Japan declares emergency, approves near US$1-t stimulus
By Agencies
Tuesday, April 07, 2020, 23:18 By Agencies

People watch tv screen showing that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at the prime minister official residence, in Osaka, Japan, April 6, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)

JAKARTA / TOKYO / DUBAI / TEHRAN - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday declared a state of emergency to fight new coronavirus infections in major population centres and unveiled a stimulus package he described as among the world’s biggest to soften the economic blow.

Abe announced the state of emergency targeting the capital Tokyo and six other prefectures - accounting for about 44% of Japan’s population - for a period of about one month.

The government approved an emergency economic stimulus package worth 108.2 trillion yen (US$993 billion), with fiscal spending of 39.5 trillion yen, aimed at battling the deepening fallout from the coronavirus, government officials said on Tuesday.

Abe said direct fiscal spending would amount to 39 trillion yen, or 7% of the economy, more than double the amount Japan spent following the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Coronavirus infections in Tokyo more than doubled to about 1,200 in the past week, with more than 80 new ones reported on Tuesday, accounting for the highest number in the country. Nationwide, cases have climbed past 4,000 with 93 deaths as of Monday.

Indonesia 

Indonesia confirmed on Tuesday 247 new coronavirus infections, taking the total to 2,738, said a health ministry official.

Achmad Yurianto, the official, reported 12 more deaths, taking the total to 221, while 204 people had recovered.

Meanwhile, 24 doctors had now died after contracting the virus. “The trend of (doctors dying) is heading for the sky,” said Halik Malik, a spokesman for the Indonesian Doctors Association which confirmed the doctors’ deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The Indonesian government is in talks with development banks for loans totalling US$7 billion to finance its COVID-19 relief efforts, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told a call with investors.

The Indonesian capital of Jakarta, the epicenter of the COVID-19 in the country, will impose a large-scale social restriction to contain the further spread of the virus.



Afghanistan

A total of 56 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of the patients carrying the virus to 423, Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said on Tuesday.


Australia

Australia’s lock-down measures have bought it time in its fight against the coronavirus and it must now decide its next course, its top medical officer said on Tuesday, as the prime minister warned against irreparable economic damage.

Australia has seen a sharp drop in its rate of new coronavirus cases in recent days after strict social-distancing measures were brought in whereas the economic damage has been significant with the central bank governor warning on Tuesday of a “very large economic contraction” expected in the June quarter.

Australia has nearly 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and its death toll rose to 46 on Tuesday after five more people died overnight, including two passengers from Carnival Corp’s Ruby Princess cruise liner, which is docked south of Sydney.

Vietnam

HANOI - Vietnam’s health ministry reported four more confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to 249, with no deaths.

More than 94,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out in Vietnam, it said, and 122 patients have been discharged.

Cambodia

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Tuesday declared the cancellation of traditional New Year celebrations, scheduled on April 13-16, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon announced the closing of all massage parlors and health spas across the kingdom on Tuesday.

Cambodia on Tuesday confirmed a Vietnamese female-tourist was tested positive for the COVID-19, raising the total number of the confirmed cases in the kingdom to 115.

According to a Ministry of Health statement, the new patient is a 27-year-old Vietnamese woman, who had visited Bavet City in southeast Cambodia's Svay Rieng province and left the city for Vietnam on March 2, and then returned to Cambodia on March 10.

Shop attendants wait for customers behind a sheet of plastic installed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a pharmacy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, April 6, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)

Fiji

Fiji confirmed on Tuesday one more new COVID-19 case, bringing the total number of such cases to 15.

In a televised speech on Tuesday, Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the 33-year-old man is the husband of a woman who earlier tested positive to the virus.

India 

India’s 21-day lockdown is set to end next week but several state leaders have called for an extension or only a partial lifting of restrictions, saying is the only way to avoid a coronavirus epidemic that will be difficult to tackle.

India has so far escaped a big surge in cases after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked its 1.3 billion people to stay indoors in the world’s biggest lockdown last month that authorities have enforced tightly.

India's federal health ministry Tuesday morning said the death toll due to COVID-19 in India rose to 114 and the total number of confirmed cases in the country reached 4,421.

Iran 

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved a government request for tapping into the sovereign wealth fund to finance the nationwide fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Press TV reported.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a letter to the Plan and Budget Organization of Iran that the 1-billion-euro (US$1.08 billion) fund should be used to supply drugs and vital medical equipment needed by the Iranian health ministry, adding domestic suppliers should be given priority.

Rouhani on Monday called for friendly countries to pressure the United States to lift its "cruel and one-sided" sanctions against Iran as the country struggles to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Rouhani made the remarks in a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, state TV reported.

Iran’s coronavirus death toll rose to 3,872 with 133 deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV on Tuesday.

The total number of cases climbed to 62,589, with 2,089 new infections, while 3,987 infected people were in a critical condition, he said.

READ MORE: Official: Iran will never ask US for coronavirus help

Iraq

Iraqi Health Ministry on Monday said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has climbed to 1,031, and the death toll reached 64 in the country.

Out of the 70 cases confirmed during the past 24 hours, four are in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, 41 in Erbil, nine in Basra, seven in Dhi Qar, four in Najaf, three in Sulaimaniyah, two in Karbala, the ministry said in a statement.

Israel

The Israeli government issued orders on Tuesday making the wearing of masks in public compulsory to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

It also approved a timeline for tightened travel restrictions for the Passover holiday, which begins on Wednesday when Jewish families gather for the festive “seder” meal commemorating the Biblical exodus from slavery in Egypt.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that this year, the dinner should be a small affair, limited to household members, in a bid to keep infection rates in check.

Children under the age of six, the mentally disabled or those alone in vehicles or workplaces are exempted. The government said masks could be homemade.

From Tuesday evening until Friday morning, a ban on unnecessary out-of-town travel will be in place, effectively preventing large gatherings of family and friends for the seder meals.

Israel has more than 9,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Sixty people have died.

ALSO READ: S. Korea reports fewer than 50 new cases, earning WHO praise

Jordan

Jordan on Monday confirmed the 6th fatality of the novel coronavirus, and the total confirmed cases reached 394 with the announcement of four new cases.

Also on Monday, 16 patients were recovered, increasing the overall recoveries to 126, according to a governmental statement.

Jordan's Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh said there is a possibility for imposing a full curfew in the next few days. 

He added that around 1,036 people violated the curfew on Monday. 

Volunteer women wearing face masks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus prepare face masks, in a mosque in southern Tehran, Iran, April 5, 2020. Iran is battling the worst new coronavirus outbreak in the Mideast. (PHOTO / AP)

Kuwait 

Kuwait reported on Tuesday 78 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number in the country to 743, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

 Among the new cases, 69 have a history of contact with infected patients, nine cases are under investigation.

The government on Monday announced a full lockdown on two densely-populated districts and extended a public holiday by two weeks until April 26 as precautionary measures against the coronavirus.

It also extended its partial curfew by two hours in the morning to run from 5 pm (1400 GMT) until 6 am effective Monday until further notice. The interior minister urged people to stay indoors even during non-curfew hours.

Nepal

Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday said that the coming two weeks will be more challenging for Nepal, as it is starting the rapid detection tests for the first time in order to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 infection.

In the televised live address from his official residence Baluwatar in Kathmandu, Oli said that though Nepal has recorded only nine positive cases till date, the coming days will be crucial to decide the scale of infection across the country.

New Zealand 

Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare announced Tuesday that the State of National Emergency to support the COVID-19 response will be extended a second time for a further seven days.

The initial declaration was made on March 25, and the seven-day declaration can be extended as many times as necessary. It does not change the length of the Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday she had rejected her health minister’s offer to resign for breaching nationwide lockdown rules as doing so would jeopardise plans to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Health Minister David Clark drove his family to the beach in the early stages of the lockdown, flouting social distancing rules, the prime minister said.

New Zealand reported 32 new confirmed and 22 new probable cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable infections to 1,160 in the country.

One person has died from COVID-19 so far, and 241 people had recovered, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield from the Ministry of Health said at a press conference.

New Zealand entered the national lockdown on March 26, which will last for at least four weeks.

Pakistan

Pakistan's total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 3,864 including 54 deaths, according to the data updated by the country's health ministry on Tuesday morning.

The statistics revealed that 577 new cases were reported during the last 24 hours, which is the highest figure recorded in a day since the country recorded its first two cases on Feb 26.

Palestine

The Hamas-ruled Health Ministry in Gaza Strip announced on Monday that one new COVID-19 case was recorded in the Palestinian coastal enclave, raising the total number of infections to 13. 

PNG

Papua New Guinea (PNG) registered a second positive case of COVID-19 on Monday, which triggered a lockdown of the entire East New Britain (ENB) province where the patient was registered.

The person of interest was a local female resident of Kokopo in ENB, PNG Prime Minister James Marape told reporters from the nation's capital Port Moresby on Monday afternoon.

Qatar

A total of 279 new infections of COVID-19 were reported Monday in Qatar, bringing the total confirmed cases to 1,604, the ministry of public health said.

Some of the new cases are Qatari nationals returned from foreign countries, while some are foreign workers, the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) quoted a ministry release as saying.

An 88-year-old Qatari citizen already suffering from chronic diseases died of the virus, while 14 others were recovered on Monday.

Commuters ride a train on April 7, 2020, in Tokyo. (PHOTO / AP)

Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia placed its capital Riyadh and other big cities under a 24-hour curfew on Monday, locking down much of the population as the largest Gulf Arab country expanded efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

The new curfew applies to the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Damam, Dharan, Hofuf, and the provinces of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif and Khobar, a statement from the interior ministry said.

Entry to or exit from those areas will not be allowed, except for vital workers. Residents are allowed to leave their homes for medical or food needs inside their residential area and between 6 am and 3 pm only.

Saudi Arabia reported four more deaths from the virus on Monday, bringing the total death toll there to 38.

Singapore 

Singapore is considering new laws that would ban both public and private gatherings of any size as the city-state ramps up social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus, said health minister Gan Kim Yong.

Laws debated during parliament on Tuesday would criminalize gatherings among friends or family members who are not living together -- and apply to private quarters or public spaces such as parks, according to a copy of his speech received by email.

The Singapore government tabled a bill in parliament on Tuesday that sought to ensure that a general election could be held safely if called during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city-state, which entered the first day of a month-long partial lockdown on Tuesday to try and curb sharply rising coronavirus cases, has said it is not ruling out holding the ballot before its deadline in early 2021.

Singapore’s health ministry on Monday confirmed 66 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases in the city-state to 1,375.

Only one was an imported case while the others were locally transmitted.

READ MORE: Singapore adds US$3.5b to stimulus to combat coronavirus

South Korea

South Korea reported 47 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of midnight Tuesday local time, raising the total number of infections to 10,331.

The newly confirmed cases stayed below 50 for the second consecutive day. Of the total, 17 were imported cases. 

Six more deaths were confirmed, lifting the death toll to 192. The total fatality rate came in at 1.86 percent.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's health ministry on Monday reported two more confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's total number of confirmed cases up to 178.

Meanwhile, the government announced that the ongoing island-wide curfew would be lifted in 19 districts from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm on Thursday.

Curfew in the districts of Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Puttalam, Kandy and Jaffna districts will continue indefinitely. 

The Philippine 

The Philippines' main island of Luzon will continue to be locked down until April 30 as the government continues to fight COVID-19 in the country, a Philippine official said on Tuesday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a virtual media briefing that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the extension of the enhanced community quarantine.

The entire main Luzon island in the Philippines has been under "enhanced community quarantine" until April 12 in a drastic bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The Philippines’ health ministry on Tuesday reported 14 new coronavirus deaths and 104 additional infections. Deaths have reached 177 and total cases 3,764, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference.

The United Arab Emirates 

The United Arab Emirates reported 277 new coronavirus cases, its biggest daily jump, and one new death. Dubai has also sealed off a densely populated neighbourhood where many blue-collar workers live.

In total, the UAE has recorded 2,076 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths. A ministry of health spokeswoman said the rise in case numbers in recent days was due to increased numbers of tests being carried out.

Thailand

Thailand's cabinet approved on Tuesday a package of economic measures worth 1.9 trillion baht (US$58 billion) to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, the finance minister said.

Thailand has confirmed 2,258 cases and 27 deaths since the outbreak began in January.

Turkey

Turkey’s parliament discussed a prisoner release law on Tuesday which aims to ease overcrowding in jails and protect detainees from the coronavirus, but which critics slam for excluding people jailed on terrorism charges in a post-coup crackdown.

The bill, proposed by President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, would temporarily free around 45,000 prisoners to address the immediate threat of coronavirus spreading in jails. A similar number would be released permanently under plans prepared last year to reduce chronic prison overcrowding.

Turkey will build two hospitals in the country's biggest city Istanbul for COVID-19 patients, the president said on Monday.

The president pointed out that Turkey's health system surpassed an important threshold by implementing 20,000 COVID-19 tests per day.

Health Ministry announced that a total of 21,400 tests were conducted in a single day across the country on Monday, and 3,148 people were tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 30,217.

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