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Asia Today: China's university exam begins after virus delay

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Almost 11 million students began taking China's university entrance exam Tuesday after a delay as the country worked to bring down coronavirus infections.

The grueling two-day university entrance exam can be a key determinant of a student’s future and was pushed back weeks from its scheduled date. The exam is believed to be the first mass gathering event since the virus outbreak and administrators are enforcing strict rules to prevent infections, including proof of wellness, social distancing and the wearing of masks.

China on Tuesday reported eight new virus cases, all of them brought from outside the country, the National Health Council reported. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 83,565 cases of COVID-19 since the virus that causes the disease was first detected in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Air New Zealand has put a temporary hold on new bookings for flights into the country while the government tries to find enough quarantined hotel rooms for people returning home. The carrier says the hold will last for three weeks. New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of the coronavirus but is still getting cases at the border. Housing Minister Megan Woods says the government is housing nearly 6,000 people in quarantine facilities with more arriving as the pandemic worsens globally.

— South Korea confirmed 44 new cases of the coronavirus, a continuation of an uptick in new infections beyond the greater Seoul area. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday the additional cases took the national tally to 13,181 with 285 deaths. It says 20 of the newly reported cases were locally infected patients, 12 of them in the Seoul metropolitan area and the rest eight from two central cities. The agency says 24 cases came from overseas.

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