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Asia Today: Cruise ship in Philippine waters to return crew

BANGKOK (AP) — A cruise ship being investigated in Australia for sparking coronavirus infections has sailed into Philippine waters to bring Filipino crewmen home.

The Philippine coast guard said Thursday the Ruby Princess will drop anchor in Manila Bay, where at least 16 other cruise ships have converged since last month while waiting for more than 5,000 Filipino crewmembers to be tested for the coronavirus before disembarking.

Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said 214 Filipino crewmen on board the Ruby Princess will be tested.

The Ruby Princess has been linked to 19 deaths in Australia and two in the United States. An Australian government inquiry is underway into why 2,700 passengers and crew were allowed to disembark in Sydney on March 19 before the test results of sick passengers were known.

Many passengers flew from Sydney overseas. Two died at home in the United States, including Los Angeles resident Chung Chen, whose family is suing Princess Cruises for more than $1 million in a lawsuit alleging it failed to alert passengers to the risk.

— BACK IN THE AIR: South Korea’s largest airline will resume some flights next month to expand cargo transport and prepare for a possible increase in travelers as countries ease their coronavirus restrictions. Despite the increased flights, Korean Air said it will still be operating only 32 of its 110 international routes in June. Korean Air has said the coronavirus pandemic has pushed South Korean airlines into an existential crisis and called for stronger government support. The company is currently rotating 70% of its 20,000 workers on six months paid leave.

— SINGAPORE CASES SURGE: The number of people infected in Singapore surged past 20,000 as more foreign workers living in crowded dormitories were diagnosed. The city-state reported 788 new cases to take its total to 20,198. Foreign workers living in dorms accounted for nearly 90% of the cases. Officials expected the upsurge as they test residents in the locked-down dormitories. Singapore will let selected businesses operate from May 12 in a gradual easing of a two-month lockdown that is due to end June 1.

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