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Asia Today: China marks month without any confirmed deaths

BEIJING (AP) — China has gone a month without announcing any new deaths from the coronavirus and has fewer than 100 patients in treatment for COVID-19.

The National Health Commission reported four new cases of the virus Friday, all local cross-infections in the northeastern province of Jilin where a cluster of uncertain origin has been detected in recent days. The last day the commission reported a death was on April 14.

Just 91 people remain in treatment for COVID-19 and 623 others are in isolation for being suspected cases or for having tested positive without showing symptoms, including 11 newly detected.

In total, China has reported 4,633 deaths among 82,933 cases since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.

Some residential compounds are testing inhabitants for the virus as Wuhan attempts to test all its 11 million people in 10 days. The city ordered local communities to test everyone after six new cases surfaced last weekend, the first infections there in more than a month.

China has maintained social distancing and bans on foreigners entering the country, but has increasingly opened up the world’s second-largest economy to allow both large factories and small businesses to resume production and dealings with customers.

The government plans to hold the ceremonial parliament’s annual session later this month, but with highly limited access for journalists and others. The meeting of the National People’s Congress is expected to be shorter than normal but will still aim to set economic and social targets for the coming year, including announcing budget figures for leading institutions such as the People’s Liberation Army.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— VIRUS FOUND IN ROHINGYA CAMP: Authorities have reported the first coronavirus case in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million refugees are sheltered. Officials said the person from the Rohingya community and a local person who lives in the Cox’s Bazar district who also tested positive have been isolated. Aid workers have been warning of the potential for a serious outbreak if the virus reached the camps. With about 40,000 people per square kilometer (103,600 per square mile) living in plastic shacks side by side the refugees would be dangerously exposed to the virus.

— MORE SEOUL INFECTIONS: South Korea has reported 27 fresh cases, including 22 in the Seoul area, where health authorities have been scrambling to test and isolate potential virus carriers after discovering dozens of infections linked to clubgoers. Figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday brought national totals to 11,018 cases and 260 virus-related deaths. The transmissions forced a delay in reopening schools, now scheduled to start May 20. Health Minister Park Neung-hoo expressed hope the country could keep the outbreak under control, the number of active cases was now below 1,000.

— SYDNEY RESTAURANTS REOPEN: Many cafes and restaurants in Sydney opened again Friday as some coronavirus restrictions were lifted, although rainy weather and ongoing fears over contagion appeared to keep patronage relatively low. Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales began allowing cafes, restaurants and places of worship to reopen with up to 10 people on the condition they adhere to social distancing rules. Pubs and clubs were also permitted to trade but only for dining. State Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned people to take personal responsibility, saying that easing restrictions in some other countries had backfired.

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