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Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 21:57
S'pore govt says three quarters of economy to resume work June 2
By Agencies
Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 21:57 By Agencies

People wearing face masks take picture of the smooth-coated otters resting on the grass patch in Singapore on May 19, 2020. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)

NEW DELHI / DUBAI / ADEN / SYDNEY / SINGAPORE / JERUSALEM / JAKARTA / BHUBANESWAR - Singapore will see three-quarters of its economy resume normal operations when curbs to fight the coronavirus are eased from June 2, although the relaxing of measures will likely see a rise in daily cases, its government said on Tuesday.

A third of the workforce will resume on-site operations in sectors that include manufacturing, production, finance, insurance and wholesale trade, and the remainder will work from home, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told a news conference.

Some schools in the city-state will reopen as part of a phased resumption of most activities, but there will likely be a daily rise in coronavirus cases overall, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at the same briefing. Singapore reported 451 new cases on Tuesday, taking the total to nearly 28,800.

Singapore has apologised to 357 COVID-19 patients who received an erroneous text message saying they had again tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Singapore authorities ordered several restaurants in a neighborhood popular with expatriates to immediately stop selling takeaway alcohol, after several foreigners didn’t adhere to social distancing measures outside of the premises.

Australia

Children in Australia’s most populated state will return to school full-time next week, a major step towards normalising public life since the coronavirus pandemic, as Qantas Airways detailed new safety measures for the resumption of flights.

The directive from New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian lifts childcare responsibilities for the parents and carers of around 800,000 children in public schools as Australia seeks to stem a surge in unemployment and restart the economy.

Qantas Airways Ltd, meanwhile, said it could restart 40-50% of its domestic capacity in July if states relax border controls, and expects to offer low and flexible fares without social distancing measures to stimulate travel demand.

Australia's official COVID-19 death toll reached 100 on Tuesday, after a 93-year-old woman passed away at a Sydney aged care home, while 7,059 cases of COVID-19 cases had been recorded as of Tuesday and of which   6,389 were said to have recovered.

Early morning traffic is seen on the Harbour Bridge in Sydney on May 15, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

Bangladesh

Bangladesh reported 1,251 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking its total to over 25,000.

 Nasima Sultana, a senior Health Ministry official, said at an online media briefing in the capital city Dhaka that "1,251 new COVID-19 positive cases and 21 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh." "The total number of positive cases is now 25,121 and death toll stands at 370," she added.

Cambodia

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Cambodia provided 1,670 dignity kits along with communication materials to assist the Interior Ministry's National Committee for Counter Tracking in fighting against COVID-19 pandemic, said its news statement released late on Monday.

The dignity kits will be distributed to vulnerable migrant returnees, particularly pregnant women and women at high risk of gender-based violence and violence against women through the national and sub-national levels, the statement said.

Cambodia's Ministry of Health said on Saturday that all of the 122 COVID-19 patients in the kingdom have recovered, as the country has detected no new cases of the virus for more than a month.

READ MORE: New Zealand to roll out 'digital diary' app to track movements

India

India will run more special trains and buses to allow millions of distressed migrant workers to leave big cities, the federal government said on Tuesday, as concerns grew in some states over rising infections from those returning home.

Workers are walking long distances to their homes in the countryside ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a vast lockdown in March to control the spread of coronavirus, shutting down all public transport.

After initially trying to keep them in their cities of employment, authorities are now helping them get home.

The federal home ministry said it was working with states to run special trains and buses, and set up rest stops for those on foot.

Coronavirus cases in India reached 100,000 on Tuesday, matching the number of intensive care unit beds in the country, while the rate of growth of new infections showed little sign of slowing.

India reported 4,970 new cases over the past 24 hours, taking the total from the outbreak to 101,139. Deaths rose by 134 to 3,163. Mumbai, meanwhile, has become the first Indian city to cross the 20,000 mark.

India’s capital New Delhi and some other state governments ordered the re-opening of public transport on Monday in a further easing of a nearly two-month coronavirus shutdown.

India officially extended that lockdown on Sunday to May 31, although several states indicated they would allow businesses to reopen.

Indoneisa

Jakarta on Tuesday extended its large-scale social curbs until June 4, maintaining curbs that limited public transportation and gatherings in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Indonesia has allowed regional health authorities to impose their own measures if the health ministry finds sufficient evidence of a rise in coronavirus cases.

“The more people stay at home, the less transmission there is,” Jakarta governor, Anies Baswedan, said in a video conference. “These could be the final (restrictions), if we’re disciplined.”

He cited people leaving their houses at dusk and night during the holy month of Ramadan as the reason behind the extension. Jakarta has also shut its schools and most shops and malls have chosen to close.

The city of about 10 million people has recorded 6,155 coronavirus infections and 470 deaths. Indonesia has reported 18,496 infections and 1,221 fatalities so far, the highest death toll in Southeast Asia.

Ankara Mounted Police Unit officers on horses patrol the streets in the Ulus district on May 18, 2020 in Ankara, Turkey. (ADEM ALTAN / AFP)

Iraq

The Iraqi Health Ministry on Monday recorded 150 new cases of COVID-19, registering the highest daily increase so far.

Among the 150 new cases, 120 were registered in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the ministry said in a statement.

The new cases were recorded after 3,520 test kits were used across the country during the past 24 hours, according to the statement.

So far, 127 people have died from the disease in Iraq, while 2,310 have recovered, it added.

Israel

Israel's Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday the temporary removal of the obligation to wear face masks in public as a heavy heat wave is hitting the country.

Israel has been suffering from the unusual heat wave since May 16, which is expected to continue until Friday. Temperatures reached more than 40 degrees Celsius in many areas of the country.

Accordingly, Israel's new Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced to temporarily halt the mask wearing requirement in public places and schools except in cases of gatherings.

So far, a fine of 200 new shekels (about USUS$57) has been imposed for not wearing a mask in public in Israel.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus patients in Israel has reached 16,650, with seven new cases registered since Monday evening, the ministry said.

The number of victims rose from 276 to 277, while the number of patients in serious condition dropped from 52 to 51, out of 157 patients currently hospitalized.

The number of recoveries increased to 13,299, with 46 new recoveries, while the number of active cases decreased to 3,074.

Japan

The Japanese government is planning to offer financial aid to students here who are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Cabinet on Tuesday approving the program.

The Cabinet agreed to offer students who are suffering financially up to 200,000 yen (US$1,900) in cash as a means of support, as many students have lost part-time jobs or seen their hours cut back amid business closures across the country resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Overseas students here hurt by the pandemic are also eligible for the cash handout, under the government's plan, which will be funded by an extra budget that was enacted late last month.

Japan may lift its state of emergency in more regions this week as new coronavirus infections drop, the Asahi newspaper said on Tuesday, moving to resume sorely needed activity in the world’s third-largest economy, battered by containment measures.

This week, the government could drop the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo from the list of eight remaining ones, while maintaining curbs on Hokkaido, Tokyo, and those around them, the paper said, citing an anonymous government source.

First-quarter data on Monday showed Japan slipped into recession for the first time in 4-1/2 years, as the virus ravages businesses and consumers.

Jordan

Jordan on Monday confirmed 16 new cases of COVID-19, increasing the overall number in the country to 629.

In a statement, Jordanian Health Minister Saad Jaber said seven of the new cases were contacts with a lorry driver who tested positive for the coronavirus in early May.

Laos

The Lao government has announced all students nationwide can go back to schools on June 2, while final-year classes in primary, lower and upper secondary schools began on Monday. 

A total of 2,648 people have been quarantined over COVID-19 concerns in Laos, The National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control said on Tuesday. 

Lao Health Ministry announced its first two confirmed COVID-19 cases at its daily press conference on March 24, and so far the country has detected 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Lebanon

Lebanon's number of COVID-19 infections increased on Monday by 20 cases to 931 while the death toll remained unchanged at 26, the National News Agency reported. 

Businesses in Lebanon were reopened on Monday after four days of shutdown while the health ministry urged people to take precautionary measures to avoid further spread of the virus.

Malaysia

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Malaysia outpaced the recoveries for a second day in a row after another 37 new cases were reported, pushing the national total to 6,978 cases, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

One new death has been reported, with the patient having suffered from health problems before being infected, pushing the total deaths to 114. 

Meanwhile, the authority of Malaysia's largest Port Klang said on Monday that the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan due to a previous COVID-19 outbreak among its passengers and crew, is on its way to Malaysia to replenish its stores and refuel, and is expected to arrive by May 26 or 27 after leaving Japan.

Maldives 

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Maldives has risen to 1,106 as the spread of the coronavirus appears to slow down, state media reported on Tuesday.

Myanmar

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Myanmar has risen to 191, with three more confirmed cases reported on Tuesday, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

The ministry also reported one confirmed case of COVID-19 late Monday.

Of the newly confirmed cases, the two patients are from Rakhine state while one each from Magway and Ayeyarwady regions, accoridng to the release.

New Zealand

New Zealand recorded no new coronavirus cases for the second straight day on Tuesday, but authorities said it was premature to discuss moving the country to “level one” in its scale of alert.

“We are only just into alert level two; we still need to settle into the full alert level two parameters,” Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a news conference in Wellington.

New Zealand has so far escaped a high number of casualties. The country has had just over 1,500 infections and 21 deaths, aided by a nationwide lockdown that lasted for more than a month.

A man (front) rides a bicycle after the government eased a nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in New Delhi on May 18, 2020. (SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP)

Oman

The Omani health ministy announced on Monday 193 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the country to 5,379.

All new cases, including 72 Omanis, are related to community contact, according to a statement issued by the ministry. 

Pakistan

The train services in Pakistan will be partially restored from Wednesday under standard operating procedures (SOPs) to enable people to celebrate upcoming Eid al-Fitr holidays, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said on Monday.

The decision to resume the train operations has been announced by the minister after getting the go-ahead from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Palestine

Palestine authorities on Monday decided to relax part of the anti-coronavirus precautions that have been adopted since March 5.

The decision came as seven new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the Palestinian territories on Monday night, according to Health Minister Mai al-Kaila.

Al-Kaila said in a press statement that the number of the COVID-19 cases has reached 567, while 108 are still under medical treatment.

Qatar

Qatar tightened restrictions on commercial activities on Monday, ordering all shops to close until the end of the month as part of measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The country of some 2.8 million on Monday reported 1,364 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total to 33,969, the second highest infection count after larger neighbour Saudi Arabia among six Gulf Arab states. Its death toll from the virus stands at 15.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia registered 2,593 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the total infections in the kingdom to 57,345 including 320 deaths.

Saudi Agricultural Development Fund approved on Monday loans worth more than 333 million Saudi riyals (US$88.8 million) that aim to support the agricultural activities of the private sector affected by the coronavirus outbreaks, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

South Korea

South Korea reported 13 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Tuesday local time, raising the total number of infections to 11,078.

The daily caseload hovered below 20 for four straight days. Of the new cases, four were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,181.

Syria

Syria’s health minister told the World Health Organization on Monday that “coercive and unfair” Western sanctions were hitting medical services trying to cope with coronavirus in his war-torn country and called for their removal.

“The economic sanctions which are coercive and unfair have been impeding the capacities of many essential services, in particular healthcare services,” Health Minister Nizar Yazigi told a virtual WHO annual assembly, referring to European Union and US sanctions.

Commuters are seen in a traffic jam after the government eased a nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Karachi on May 18, 2020. (ASIF HASSAN / AFP)

Thailand

Thailand on Tuesday confirmed two new coronavirus cases and no additional deaths, bringing its total to 3,033 infections, a senior official said.

There have been 56 deaths since the outbreak began in January and 2,857 patients have recovered.

The Philippines

The Philippine health department on Tuesday reported that 224 more people have contracted the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 12,942.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 114 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,843. It added that six more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 837.

Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday announced a four-day lockdown on May 23-26 in the entire country to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The curfew will comprehend all the 81 provinces, Erdogan said, after attending a cabinet meeting via videoconference from Istanbul.

The lockdown would cover the Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim feast marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The death toll from the coronavirus in Turkey climbed to 4,171, and the confirmed cases totaled 150,593, according to the latest figures announced by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Monday.

ALSO READ: India's virus infections surpass China, but contagion slowing

UAE

The United Arab Emirates will extend a nightly curfew by two hours from this week after reporting an increase in daily cases of the coronavirus, an official said on Monday.

Separately, the country, which had suspended entry of non-Emirati residents on March 19, said it would next month start receiving those with valid residencies stranded abroad whose families are in the UAE, state media reported.

The country on Monday announced 832 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 24,190.

Vietnam

Foreigners entering Vietnam under visa waiver programs, e-visas or tourist visas after March 1 will be automatically given stay permit extension until June 30 free of charge, Vietnam News Agency cited the country's Immigration department as reporting on Tuesday.

Yemen

Yemen reported on Monday two new coronavirus infections in the southeastern province of Shabwa, raising the total number in the war-town country to 130.

Meanwhile, the health authorities recorded 20 deaths in different areas of the government-controlled provinces, including the southern port city of Aden and the southeastern province of Hadramout, according to a brief statement released by the country's supreme national emergency.

So far, the pro-government health authorities have recorded only one recovery from COVID-19 since the outbreak on April 10.

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