Roundup: Asia-Pacific countries adopt comprehensive policies to curb COVID-19 pandemic

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HONG KONG, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Countries in the Asia-Pacific region have rolled out policies from border control to financial aid package in the week to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on regional economies.


More than one week after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the cases in Asia-Pacific countries apart from China kept increasing due to international travels or mass gatherings.

South Korea reported 98 more cases of the COVID-19 on Sunday, raising the total number of infections to 8,897. The speed of increasing COVID-19 cases in South Korea slowed down after posing double-digit growth for four consecutive days since March 15.

Japan's health ministry and local governments said the number of COVID-19 infections nationwide had risen to 1,078 cases as of 6:30 p.m. local time Sunday.

New Zealand reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 66, with 11 of the new patients having been traveled abroad.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia stood at 1,098 as of Sunday morning -- an increase of more than 200 from 874 on Saturday morning.

Ten fresh cases have been reported in Afghanistan on the same day and all of them were imported, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 34.

Thailand reported the highest daily jump, with 188 COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday, making a total of 599 patients across the country.

The 188 newly reported patients included 65 people who had been physically close to those earlier reported cases at Lumpini boxing stadium and certain bars in Thong Lor and Ramkhamhaeng areas of Bangkok.

Singapore's Ministry of Health on Saturday recorded 432 cases of coronavirus patients in the city state, with almost 80 percent of its new COVID-19 cases over the past three days being imported.

The total cases of the COVID-19 in Malaysia stood at 1,183 on Saturday. A large number of the cases can be traced to a large-scale religious event held near the capital of Kuala Lumpur from late February to early March.

The COVID-19 outbreak has claimed 48 lives in Indonesia as 64 new cases were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the country's caseload to 514.

The Philippine health authorities reported 73 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the number of people sick with the highly contagious disease in the country to 380.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in India rose to 315 on Sunday, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

According to the Pakistani government's statistics, the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan reached 534 on Saturday.


In the wake of increasing imported cases, governments across the region have introduced restrictive measures, including imposing curfew, closing borders and suspending visa insurance.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced a 14-hour Sunday curfew, and the nationwide curfew imposed in Sri Lanka was extended to beyond Monday.

Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia and Myanmar shut down their borders on Thursday.

Singapore, as its newest of a slew of border control measures, will deny the entry of short-term visitors regardless of their nationalities and limit the entry of work-pass holders from 11:59 p.m. March 23.

The Solomon Islands government also banned all non-citizens from entering the country from Sunday.

Vietnam will temporarily ban all foreigners, except for entrants on diplomatic or official purposes or other special cases permitted, from entering the country, effective from Sunday, the government said.

The state of emergency was issued in some Asia-Pacific counties, which would empower the government to take drastic measures during the outbreak.

Samoa and Tonga declared a 14-day state of emergency, effective from midnight Friday, as part of the efforts to curb the COVID-19.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared an unprecedented human biosecurity emergency on Wednesday, warning Australians to stay at home and not to travel abroad. The prime minister said there is no "two-week answer," short-term and quick fix to what the country is facing.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a 6-month state of national calamity on Tuesday.

The president also placed the entire main Luzon island under "enhanced community quarantine" on Monday.


In the virus-hit countries, international flights were cut, train services were suspended, and tourist attractions were closed in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Fiji Airways, the island nation's national carrier, decided to suspend 95 percent of its international flights on Friday until the end of May.

Pakistan suspended international flight operations for two weeks starting from 8:00 p.m. local time on Saturday.

The Indian government banned the entry of all international commercial passenger flights from Sunday for one week.

The state-run broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) said train services across the country will remain suspended from Saturday midnight to 10:00 p.m. local time on Sunday.

Meanwhile, India's iconic monument of love -- Taj Mahal was closed down Tuesday amid COVID-19 scare.

Sri Lanka said on Sunday that all passenger flight arrivals into the Bandaranaike International Airport in the capital of Colombo will be suspended indefinitely.

The Philippines has shut down all airports in the main Luzon Island starting from Friday.


With gloom and doom in the financial markets, several countries hustled to lend money to businesses being hit hard by the economic fallout.

South Korean stocks and currency hit the lowest close in over 10 years on Thursday as fears mounted over the COVID-19 outbreak across the world. Its stocks triggered trading halt after plunging over 8 percent in the morning.

As a response, the country decided to offer 50 trillion won (39 billion U.S. dollars) worth of emergency financial aid package for small businesses.

President Moon Jae-in chaired an "emergency economic council" meeting, saying the emergency financial aid package would be the first step to be taken in order to prevent small- and medium-sized companies, micro-business owners and the self-employed from going bankrupt and help ease their finance-related anxieties

Australian Prime Minister Morrison on Sunday afternoon unveiled a 66-billion-Australian-dollar (38.2-billion-U.S. dollar) package, building on measures included in the 17.6-billion-Australian-dollar (10.2 billion U.S. dollars) package he announced on March 13.

Australia's central bank has cut the country's official interest rate to a record low of 0.25 percent on Thursday.

New Zealand unveiled a 7.36-billion-U.S.-dollar package and the Philippines became the first country to shut down its financial markets on Tuesday to "ensure the safety of employees and traders in light of the escalating coronavirus disease," according to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) President Ramon Monzon.

India's central bank governor on Monday unveiled measures to provide adequate liquidity in foreign exchange. Enditem

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