Asia Today: India to allow reopenings in some areas

NEW DELHI (AP) — India is extending its lockdown in containment zones until June 30 but will allow economic activities to restart outside these areas even though coronavirus cases continue to rise in major cities.

The home ministry said Saturday that places of worship, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, and shopping malls will be allowed to reopen outside all containment zones on June 8. Subways, schools and colleges will remain shuttered nationwide.

India reported another record single-day jump of 7,964 coronavirus cases and 265 deaths on Saturday.

India, which started easing lockdown restrictions earlier this month, has confirmed 173,763 cases of the coronavirus, including 4,971 deaths.

More than 70% of the cases are concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an open letter marking the first year of his government’s second term, said India was on the path to victory in its battle against the virus. He said India will set “an example in economic revival” and asked the nation to show a “firm resolve.”

Modi also acknowledged the “tremendous suffering” of millions of migrant workers who had lost their jobs during the lockdown and have been forced to make grueling and dangerous trips back to their hometowns.

The federal government is expected to issue a new set of guidelines this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in worst-hit areas.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— DOZENS OF NEW CASES IN SOUTH KOREA: South Korea on Saturday reported 39 new cases of the coronavirus, most of them in the densely populated Seoul area where officials have linked scores of infections to warehouse workers. Figures from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought national totals to 11,441 confirmed cases and 269 deaths. KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said Friday that at least 102 infections had been linked to workers at a massive warehouse operated by Coupang, a local e-commerce giant that has seen orders spike during the epidemic. The company has been criticized for failing to implement proper preventive measures and enforce distance between employees, with the virus discovered on safety helmets, laptops, keyboards and other equipment they share. The resurgence in infections has alarmed officials as millions of children have been returning to school nationwide.

— FOUR NEW CASES IN CHINA: China on Saturday reported four new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, all brought from outside the country and no new deaths. Just 63 people remained in treatment and another 401 were under isolation and monitoring for showing signs of having the virus or of testing positive for it without showing any symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 82,999 cases since the virus was first detected in the central industrial city of Wuhan. With virtually everyone wearing masks in public, most offices, shops and restaurants have reopened. But the economic fallout from months of lockdown in most of the country has left millions unemployed and, combined with a worsening trade dispute with the U.S. and drop in global demand, it remains unclear how many jobs will return. The central province of Hubei announced more than two dozen measures on Friday to revive the local economy, including a June shopping festival, accelerating the issuance of housing loans, funding support for travel agencies, and subsidies for vehicle purchases.

— GERMANS RETURN TO CHINA: Around 400 German managers, workers and family members have begun returning to China aboard charter flights as multinational companies in the world’s second-largest economy seek to get their operations running again. A pair of flights from Frankfurt to the Chinese business hubs of Tianjin and Shanghai were organized by the German Chamber of Commerce in China in cooperation with Germany’s diplomatic missions and airline Lufthansa. They’re the first repatriation flights from Europe to China for foreign nationals. China has largely banned all foreigners from entering because of the coronavirus outbreak. More than 5,200 German companies operate in China, employing more than 1 million people.


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