Australia’s largest city, Sydney, yesterday lifted quarantine restrictions on travelers from New Zealand, while the second-largest city, Melbourne, marked the 100th day of one of the world’s longest pandemic lockdowns.
More than 350 passengers yesterday were to take three flights from Auckland and would not have to undergo hotel quarantine on arrival in Sydney.
“This is great news for tourism. It’s also great news for family reunification and grateful businesses,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
New Zealand continues to insist that travelers from Australia quarantine in hotels for 14 days on arrival.
The Victoria government has resisted pressure from businesses and the federal government to relax a second lockdown that began when stay-at-home orders took effect in Melbourne on July 9.
Victoria recorded only two new COVID-19 cases in the latest 24-hour period. The state last recorded such a low number on June 8, with daily tallies peaking at 725 on Aug. 5.
Victoria Premier Dan Andrews said that he would tomorrow announce conservative plans to relax Melbourne’s lockdown.
“The decisions on Sunday will be conservative, because this is a wildly infectious virus,” Andrews told reporters. “These are some of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made in 20 years in public life.”
New South Wales yesterday reported five new cases in Sydney, including four who were infected overseas and detected in hotel quarantine.
In other developments in the region, India has confirmed that COVID-19 fatalities jumped to 895 in the past 24 hours, a day after recording the lowest daily deaths of 680 in nearly three months.
The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also reported 63,371 new cases, raising India’s total to more than 7.3 million, second in the world behind the US.
Some experts say India’s tally of infections might not be reliable because of poor reporting, inadequate health infrastructure and heavy reliance on antigen tests, which are faster, but less accurate than traditional real-time polymerase chain reaction tests.
Health officials have also warned about the potential for the virus to spread during the religious festival season beginning later this month.
South Korea’s daily COVID-19 tally has dropped below 50 for the first time in more than two weeks, despite reports of small-scale local infections.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency yesterday said that the 47 cases added in the past 24 hours took the country’s total to 25,035 with 441 deaths.
It is a decline from the 110 reported a day earlier, about half of them tied to a hospital for the elderly in the southeastern city of Busan.
Earlier this week, South Korea relaxed its social distancing rules, allowing high-risk venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and spectators to return to sport stadiums.
Chinese authorities have completed tests on more than 10 million people in the northern Chinese port city of Qingdao after a hospital outbreak there blamed on “inappropriate disinfection.”
Testing is to continue to cover 11 million people, including more than 9 million citizens, as well as those lacking formal residency.
A total of 13 cases have been discovered in the city, but none since the mass testing program was launched earlier this week.
The cluster of infections, the first locally transmitted cases in China in about two months, appears to be linked to “inappropriate disinfection” in the computed tomography room at the Qingdao Chest Hospital, Shandong Health Commission deputy director Ma Lixin (馬立新) told reporters.
The possibility of community transmission outside the hospital had been ruled out, Ma said.
China has reported a total of 5,634 deaths from 85,646 cases recorded since the virus was first detected in Wuhan late last year.
Sri Lankan authorities have ordered the closure of all cinemas in a bid to contain an outbreak that has so far infected 1,791 people in the capital’s suburbs.
The cluster in a garment factory in the densely populated Western Province was discovered last week, and is the first in more than two months.
Authorities have also tightened a curfew in parts of the country, as more than 2,000 others were asked to quarantine at home.
The majority of the infected are coworkers of the first patient. Schools and key public offices are also closed, public gatherings banned and restrictions imposed on public transport.
Sri Lanka has reported 5,170 confirmed cases with 13 deaths.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since