Asia Today: Indian cases spike, Shanghai Disney park reopens
BANGKOK (AP) — India reported its biggest daily increase in cases Monday as it prepares to gradually resume train service while easing its virus lockdown.
India’s train network was stopped in late March as a national lockdown was imposed on the country of 1.3 billion people.
When service restarts Tuesday, passengers must wear masks and pass health screenings before being allowed to board the trains, the railway ministry has said. The trains will make fewer stops than usual as service is gradually restarted.
The announcement comes after the government arranged for trains to transport thousands of migrant workers stranded in Indian cities back to their homes.
The railway system is often described as India’s lifeline, transporting 23 million people across the vast subcontinent each day, some 8.4 billion passengers each year.
On Monday, India's government reported 4,213 new cases of coronavirus infection over the past 24 hours. It has now more than 67,000 cases which include 2,206 deaths.
The rise in the number of infections come on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to meet various state heads to discuss the country’s lockdown exit strategy.
India’s 54-day coronavirus lockdown is expected to end on May 17.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND REOPENS: Visitors wearing face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as China’s most prominent theme park reopened in a new step toward rolling back anti-coronavirus controls. The park, which closed Jan. 25, will limit visitor numbers and is keeping some attractions closed in line with social distancing guidelines. Disney guests, many wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and children dressed as movie characters were checked for fevers at the gate, and decals were used to designate a safe distance between visitors.
—EXAM PREP IN BEIJING: More than 82,000 third-year middle school students went back to classes in China’s capital Beijing to prepare for their high school entrance exams. Students must show valid health codes and tracking records of their travels over the past 14 days on the mobile phones to gain entry to their schools. The National Health Commission reported 17 new cases. seven of them imported, five in the original epicenter of Wuhan and five spread across three northeastern provinces.
— NEW ZEALAND REOPENING: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a plan to reopen the economy and schools over the next 10 days. Social distancing rules will apply, and social gatherings will be limited to 10 people at events like weddings and funerals. The nation’s borders will also remain closed. Retail stores, malls, restaurants, hair salons and gyms can reopen Thursday, and people can take domestic flights. Schools will then reopen from next Monday. Bars will be the last businesses allowed to reopen, from May 21. Ardern said bars posed a high risk: “We don’t want to be South Korea -- to open our bars only to close them again,” she said. New Zealand has been successful in reducing new cases of the virus to a trickle, but Ardern said New Zealanders needed to remain cautious.
— MORE SOUTH KOREAN CASES: South Korea reported 35 new cases, adding more than 30 for the second day in a row. Authorities in the Seoul metropolitan area have ordered the temporary closing of clubs and other nightlife establishments and are combing through credit-card and mobile-phone records and security camera footage to track thousands of people who visited a popular Seoul entertainment district. Seoul's mayor said 85 infections are linked to an outbreak in nightclubs and health workers are attempting to contact another 5,500 people.
— SRI LANKA EASES LOCKDOWN: Sri Lanka's government asked state and private sector workers to resume work Monday after a nearly two-month coronavirus lockdown. A 24-hour curfew was lifted on the island, except for two main districts that include the capital Colombo. Restaurants, liquor stores, clothing stores and gyms also remain closed. Buses and trains will only transport those going to work.