Asia Today: Sri Lanka reimposes curfew; 12 cases in China

BANGKOK (AP) — Sri Lanka has reimposed a countrywide 24-hour curfew after a surge in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, most of them navy sailors who were hunting those evading quarantine.

The 46 new infections on Friday were the highest in a day. They brought to 420 the number of COVID-19 patients in the Indian Ocean island, including seven deaths.

Sri Lanka partially lifted a monthlong curfew on Monday during daytime hours in more than two thirds of the country.

The new curfew remains in effect until Monday. Police have arrested more than 30,000 violators.

Among the newly infected were 30 navy sailors from a camp on the outskirts of the capital, Colombo. A total 60 sailors so far have been infected and the camp isolated.

The virus is believed to have entered the camp through sailors who were deployed to search for a group of drug addicts who had contact with a COVID-19 patient and were evading quarantine.

— NO NEW DEATHS IN CHINA: For the 10th straight day, China reported no new deaths from the coronavirus. Twelve new cases were reported on Saturday, 11 of them brought from overseas and one local transmission in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang bordering on Russia, according to the National Health Commission. Just 838 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19 while another 1,000 people are undergoing isolation and monitoring for being either suspected cases or having tested positive for the virus while showing no symptoms. China, widely believed to be the source of the global pandemic, has reported a total of 4,632 deaths among 82,816 cases.

— DOWNWARD TREND IN SOUTH KOREA HOLDS: South Korea has reported 10 fresh cases of the new coronavirus, the eighth day in a row its daily jump came below 20. No new deaths were reported Saturday for the second straight day. The figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought national totals to 10,718 cases and 240 deaths. While a slowing caseload has allowed South Korea to relax its social distancing guidelines over the past week, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun raised concern over possible transmissions by “quiet spreaders” and instructed officials to conduct antibody tests in worst-hit Daegu and nearby towns to learn how widespread the coronavirus is. Chung also called for stronger financial tools to ease the epidemic’s economic shock, which has caused severe cashflow problems for airlines while also hurting major exporters such as carmakers and shipbuilders. The government is looking to create a 40 trillion won ($32 billion) fund through bonds issued by state-run banks to protect jobs in key industries, but the plan needs parliamentary approval. South Korea’s economy shrank 1.4% during the first three months of the year, the worst contraction since late-2008, as the pandemic hit both domestic consumption and exports.

— AUSTRALIA MARKS ANZAC DAY WITH HOME VIGILS: Traditional crowds at dawn services for the Anzac Day memorial holiday in Australia were replaced with candlelit vigils in driveways and neighbors gathering to listen to buglers play “The Last Post.” Restrictions on crowds and social distancing due to the coronavirus meant that the usual packed dawn services in cities and towns across the country were not held. The holiday, also celebrated in New Zealand, marks the anniversary of New Zealand and Australian soldiers, known as Anzacs, landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. In New Zealand, where even tighter crowd restrictions are in place, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood at dawn on the driveway of Premier House, the leader’s official residence, for a ceremony.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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