Asia virus latest: India extends lockdown, Macau casino revenue plunges

Friday 1st May 2020

1 / 6Autorickshaws and cars at a parking area in New Delhi during a government-imposed nationwide anti-virus lockdown, which has now been extendedAutorickshaws and cars at a parking area in New Delhi during a government-imposed nationwide anti-virus lockdown, which has now been extended (AFP Photo/Prakash SINGH)

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

- India extends lockdown -

The world's biggest virus lockdown is taking place in India, and it will be extended for two weeks beyond May 4, the government said Friday.

The measures have spelled misery for millions of workers in India's informal economy.

The home ministry said there would be "considerable relaxations" of the measures in areas with few or no cases.

For those living in so-called "green" zones, that means shops selling alcohol and chewing tobacco can reopen.

But in so-called "red" zones, which for now includes the capital New Delhi, tight restrictions will remain.

Sri Lanka also extended its lockdown for a second time, through May 11.

- Macau casinos earnings plummet -

Macau's gaming revenue was virtually wiped out in April as casinos suffered their worst month on record owing to measures put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the tourist-dependent city.

Gross gaming revenue was $95 million last month, official data showed -- a drop of 97 percent from the $3 billion raked in during April 2019.

The former Portuguese colony shuttered casinos for two weeks in February as the virus burst out of central China.

While they have since reopened, anti-virus measures still mean mainland visitors cannot enter the city, leaving casino tables largely empty.

- Fears of Afghanistan 'disaster' -

A US government watchdog said Afghanistan risks a coronavirus disaster, even though the numbers of cases and deaths remain relatively low for the moment.

"Afghanistan's numerous and, in some cases, unique vulnerabilities -- a weak health care system, widespread malnutrition, porous borders, massive internal displacement, contiguity with Iran, and ongoing conflict -- make it likely the country will confront a health disaster in the coming months," the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in its quarterly report.

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Afghanistan officials have so far confirmed 2,171 cases of COVID-19, including 64 deaths, but access to testing remains difficult and experts fear the true numbers could be much higher.

- Singapore moves migrant workers to empty cruise ships -

Singapore said it has begun moving migrant workers who have recovered from the coronavirus onto two unused cruise ships.

The vast majority of the city-state's new infections are in sprawling dormitory complexes housing foreign workers, many of whom are labourers from South Asia.

To reduce the risk of infection in crowded dorms, many migrant workers have been moved to other sites including military barracks and vacant apartment blocks.

- Australia curbs may lift soon -

Australia will consider early easing of coronavirus restrictions next week, as the number of local cases dwindled and the economic impact of the crisis fell into painful relief.

Authorities have detected almost 7,000 COVID-19 infections, but new daily cases are now close to single figures and some parts of the country have not seen a case in more than a week.

- Hong Kong police on alert for democracy rallies -

Riot police fanned out across Hong Kong after democracy activists threatened to defy a ban on gatherings because of the pandemic -- but the streets remained largely calm.

The semi-autonomous financial hub was upended by seven months of violent protests last year, hammering its reputation for stability and leaving the city deeply divided.

While the threat of protests largely failed to materialise, hundreds gathered in small groups at a shopping mall in the town of Shatin, chanting slogans and holding protest flags.

Riot police soon rushed into the mall and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

- Japan aquarium asks public to phone eels -

A Tokyo aquarium closed during the coronavirus outbreak is asking people to make video calls to their eels so the sensitive creatures remember humans exist and don't pose a threat.

The Sumida Aquarium has been closed since the start of March and its animals have become used to a largely human-free environment during the two-month calm.

But the aquarium said the "unprecedented situation" was having some unexpected downsides.

"Creatures in the aquarium don't see humans except keepers and they have started forgetting about humans," it said on Twitter.

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