A man jogs on the promenade along Marina Bay in Singapore on April 2, 2020, as the government slowly tightens restrictions to combat the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)
SYDNEY / SEOUL / SINGAPORE / DUBAI / NEW DELHI - Singapore will close schools and most workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, for a month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday, as part of stricter measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have decided that instead of tightening incrementally over the next few weeks, we should make a decisive move now, to pre-empt escalating infections,” Lee said in a speech.
Food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services will remain open. The city-state will also move to full home-based learning in its schools and universities.
Singapore reported 65 more coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the city-state's total cases of the disease to 1,114.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) also reported a death from complications due to COVID-19 infection on Friday morning in a 86-year-old woman, who was the fifth fatality of coronavirus-19 in the country.
As many as 10 million people globally may have been infected by the new coronavirus, Australia’s chief medical officer said on Friday, with the under-reporting due to a lack of testing in some countries for the highly contagious respiratory disease.
Several states in Australia are placing checkpoints at their borders to prevent all but essential travel from neighbouring territories over the concern that more coronavirus cases were emerging without a known source.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country's healthcare system should be able to cope with the coronavirus pandemic based on its current trajectory as he described the recent slowdown in the spread of the virus as "promising" and "encouraging."
There had been 5,224 confirmed cases of the virus in Australia as of Friday morning - an increase of about 5 percent from Thursday morning. 27 deaths were recorded.
In NSW, residents are subject to a public order that allows for fines of up to A$11,000 (US$6,667) and prison time for those who breach strict social distancing rules. The order is due to run for 90 days.
Australia also has to decide what to do with more than a dozen cruise ships it has banned from docking at its ports.
A total of 19 more confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of the patients carrying the disease to 273, Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said Friday.
Cambodia on Friday confirmed three more French tourists and one Malaysian man were tested positive for the COVID-19, raising the total number of the confirmed cases to 114.
India's federal health ministry on Friday morning said the death toll due to the COVID-19 in India rose to 56 and the total number of confirmed cases in the country reached 2,301.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to show a joint resolve in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by switching off their lights at homes on Sunday at 9:00 pm and light up candles, torch or mobile flashlights for nine minutes.
Iran Air has suspended all its flights to Germany amid the surge in novel coronavirus cases, Iran's state TV reported on Friday.
A total of 2,715 COVID-19 cases were confirmed over the past 24 hours in Iran, bringing the total to 53,183, said a spokesman of the health ministry on Friday.
The novel coronavirus death toll rose to 3,294 after 134 more fatalities were reported across the country, Kianush Jahanpur, head of Public Relations and Information Center of Ministry of Health and Medical Education, announced on Friday during his daily updates on the state TV.
Two people wait for clients at the entrance of a cafe with a banner that reads "we are open for takeaway" amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Ankara, Turkey, March 31, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)
the Operator of airports in Indonesia, PT Angkasa Pura II, has started trimming the operational hours of airports in the country in a bid to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus which has killed 181 people in the country, an official said on Friday.
President Director of PT Angkasa Pura II Muhammad Awaluddin said that the reduction of the operational period was expected to maximize the health surveillance and security checks at the airports.
Indonesia confirmed on Friday 196 new coronavirus infections, marking the biggest daily rise since the first cases were announced a month ago, said a health ministry official.
Achmad Yurianto, the official, said that the total number of infections in the Southeast Asian country was 1,986. Eleven new deaths were reported, taking the total to 181, while 134 patients had recovered.
Iraq has thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases, many times more than the 772 it is has publicly reported, according to three doctors closely involved in the testing process, a health ministry official and a senior political official.
Iraq’s health ministry, the only official outlet for information on the coronavirus, dismissed the sources’ reading of the spread of the disease.
The ministry said in its latest daily statement on Thursday that the total recorded confirmed cases for Iraq were 772, with 54 deaths.
Israeli police threw up metal barricades and roadblocks on Friday to enforce a lockdown of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town badly affected by coronavirus.
Emergency regulations approved by the cabinet late Thursday declared Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, a “restricted zone” due to its high rate of infections. The new designation allows authorities to tighten curbs on public movement.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 7,030, the Israeli Ministry of Health said Friday.
Earlier on Friday, Sheba Medical Center in central Israel announced the death of a 71-year-old coronavirus patient. The hospital noted that he also suffered from other serious diseases. The death toll of the COVID-19 has reached 37 in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tested negative for coronavirus on Thursday after his health minister was diagnosed with it, officials said, the 70-year-old leader’s second infection scare this week.
As a precaution, Netanyahu returned to self-isolation for six more days, they said.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Friday that Japan declaring a national state of coronavirus emergency would send a "strong message" that could help dodge an explosive outbreak, her most explicit nudge so far for the government to make the call.
The Japanese government said it has told regions that have suffered the most serious outbreaks of coronavirus to save hospitals beds for severely ill patients, while keeping others with milder or no symptoms at home or in hotels.
Japanese ruling party executive Fumio Kishida said on Friday he has agreed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to offer 300,000 yen (US$2,800) in cash payments per household that suffers a certain degree of income declines from the coronavirus pandemic as the government will also urge commercial banks to respond flexibly to requests by borrowers to defer payments.
Abe said a stimulus package to combat the coronavirus pandemic will be rolled out next week, and target small firms and households hardest hit by social distancing policies.
Jordan on Thursday confirmed 21 cases of novel coronavirus, increasing the overall number to 299.
Jordan's Health Minister Saad Jaber said nine patients have recovered and left hospitals.
"We thought the number is decreasing but it is now affecting entire families....please take it seriously and stay home. This is a lethal virus," said the minister.
Jordan's Minister of State Amjad Adaileh said the number registered Thursday is five times more than the one registered Wednesday.
Five death cases have been confirmed in Jordan so far.
Kuwait reported on Friday 75 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number in the country to 417, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
A 60-year-old patient has died from COVID-19 in Kyrgyzstan, becoming the first death case in the country, authorities said Friday,
The victim arrived in the central Asian country from abroad and received treatment in a hospital in Kyrgyzstan's southern region of Osh, said the Republican Headquarters on coronavirus prevention and control in a report, adding that he also suffered from other serious diseases.
A man wearing a face mask to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus walks on the underpass in Seoul, South Korea, April 2, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)
Lebanon's number of COVID-19 infections increased on Friday by 14 cases to a total of 508, while the death toll went up by one additional case to reach 17, the National News Agency reported.
Lebanon is expected to repatriate Lebanese nationals stranded in some epidemic-hit countries starting on April 5 by sending four planes to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, and Cote D'Ivoire.
The Maldives Police Force has issued warnings to 95 individuals who violated a curfew imposed by the Heath Protection Authority (HPA) as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic, local media reported here Friday.
Maldives announced a partial curfew applicable to Greater Male between local time 5 pm and 8 pm that came into effect on Thursday. Maldives Police said that 83 citizens and 13 foreigners were apprehended for violating curfew on the first day.
New Zealand reported 49 new confirmed and 20 new probable cases of the COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable infections to 868 in the country.
There were no additional deaths reported and 103 people had recovered, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield from the Ministry of Health said at a press conference.
New Zealand said on Friday that it would introduce new legislation to help companies facing insolvency due to the coronavirus pandemic to remain viable and keep people employed.
The new legislation gives directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems a “safe harbour” from insolvency under the Companies Act, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a news conference.
Twenty-one novel coronavirus infections were registered in Oman, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 231 with only one death, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.
All COVID-19 cases were Omani citizens, the ministry said in a statement.
Minister of Health Ahmed Mohammed Al-Saidi announced in a briefing via video-conferencing later on Thursday that the total number of recoveries rose to 57.
Stranded foreign tourists chat at a hostel in New Delhi, India, April 2, 2020. Dozens of tourists from Britain, Canada and Australia are finding themselves stranded in the Indian capital with their vacations abruptly ended by India’s three-week lockdown and stopping of international flights amid new coronavirus. (PHOTO / AP)
Police in Pakistan will enforce a strict lockdown to prevent people from going to mosques to offer Friday prayers and fuel a rise in coronavirus infection, officials said, after failing to prevent large congregations last week.
Pakistan has reported 2,386 people infected with coronavirus, the highest in south Asia, fuelled by a jump in cases related to members of Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni Muslim group, which had planned a congregation in the city of Lahore last month.
Palestine on Friday announced extending the state of emergency for another month in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree of expanding the state of emergency in Palestine for another month as a precautionary measure.
The president called on the authorities to continue their precautionary and protective measures to prevent the spread of the virus in Palestine.
The presidential decree came after the Ministry of Health on Friday morning declared 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number in Palestine to 171, including 12 cases in Gaza Strip.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered on Friday the government to cover 60 percent of salaries of Saudi employees in the private sectors for a period of three months.
The king granted a budget of 9 billion Saudi Riyals (US$2.4 billion) for the program to mitigate the effects of coronavirus in the private sectors as some workers may lose jobs because of this crisis, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The employers have the right, instead of terminating the contract of a Saudi worker, to apply for compensation to the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) for the workers, at 60 percent of the registered wage in (GOSI) for a duration of three months, at a maximum of 9,000 Saudi Riyals monthly per employee.
Saudi Arabia has advanced to 3 pm (1200 GMT) its curfew in three areas, starting from Friday until further notice, state news agency SPA said, citing a senior official of the interior ministry.
The measure in the city of Dammam, and the governorates of Taif and al-Qatif, aims to rein in the virus, as the kingdom has recorded 1,885 infections and 21 deaths, the most among any of the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
South Korea's reported cases of the COVID-19 topped 10,000 as of midnight Friday local time as 86 more cases were confirmed for the past 24 hours.
The total number of infections here reached 10,062, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
Thailand's new package of economic measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak will be worth about 10 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Friday.
Thailand on Friday reported 103 new coronavirus cases and four more deaths, bringing its total number cases to 1,978, a health official said.
There were four new deaths, bringing total fatalities to 19, said a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, Taweesin Wisanuyothin.
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) on Friday temporarily suspended its 31 long-distance trains and shortened service hours of all Bangkok electric trains.
The Philippines’ health ministry on Friday reported 29 new coronavirus deaths, marking the single largest daily increase in casualties.
The latest figures brought total deaths in the country to 136, while 385 new cases were reported, increasing the tally to 3,018, the health ministry said in a bulletin.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Thursday reported 2,456 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and 79 new deaths in Turkey.
The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Turkey has climbed to 18,135, while the death toll has reached 356, Koca tweeted.
Turkey conducted a total of 18,757 tests in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out to 125,556, the minister said.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday announced 210 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 1,024.
UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) said in a statement the new cases include many nationalities and all are in a stable condition and are receiving medical treatment.
Vietnam’s health ministry reported 10 more coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the tally to 237.
More than 73,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out in Vietnam, it said, and 72,942 people have been placed under quarantine. The health ministry has not reported any coronavirus deaths in the country.
HONG KONG NEWS