Asia virus latest: Virgin Australia collapses; Singapore extends curbs

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SINGAPORE, April 21, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Here are the latest
developments in Asia related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

– Virgin Australia collapses –

Cash-strapped Virgin Australia collapsed Tuesday, making it the
largest carrier to buckle under the strain of the coronavirus
pandemic, which has ravaged the global airline industry.

In an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Virgin said it
planned to keep operating flights despite handing over the keys to
administrators.

– Singapore extends curbs –

Singapore extended restrictions to fight the coronavirus until early
June, the city-state’s leader said, as cases surged past 9,000 due to
a growing number of infections among migrant workers.

The city-state managed to keep its outbreak in check in the early
stages due to widespread testing and contact-tracing, but is facing a
fast-moving second wave of infections.

– Hong Kong extends restrictions –

Hong Kong has reduced growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases to single
digits in recent days, but city authorities say they are not taking
any risks.

Chief executive Carrie Lam said social distancing measures and some
business restrictions would continue for another two weeks until at
least May 7.

“This is not the time to be complacent. If we relax, the good work
we have done will be in vain,” she told reporters.

– China and South Korea agree ‘fast track’ travel – China has
reached an agreement with South Korea to set up a “fast track” for
businesspeople to travel between the countries as Beijing looks to
ease an entry ban on foreigners imposed to curb the spread of the
coronavirus. With the deadly disease spreading globally, China last
month blocked almost all foreigners from entering as authorities
fretted over cases being imported from abroad. – Indonesia bans
post-Ramadan exodus- A possible explosion in coronavirus cases when
millions travel to hometowns and ancestral villages after Ramadan has
forced Indonesia’s president to issue a ban on the annual exodus.

Like Christmas or the Chinese Lunar New Year, the movement kicks off
an extended holiday when many Indonesians celebrate Eid al-Fitr with
their families to mark the end of Ramadan.

The government has called on residents of major cities, including
the capital Jakarta, to stay put, and President Joko Widodo said he
would ban any mass migration. – Australia to ease some restrictions –
Australia said it would lift some healthcare and school restrictions
on May 11, as the country gradually tries to ease out of the crisis
and get the economy up and running again amid sustained low rates of
new infections.

“We are already on the road back and I think we have already reached
a turning point on these issues, provided we can keep the controls in
place that keep the virus under management,” said Prime Minister Scott
Morrison.

– South Korea K-league allows practice matches –

South Korean football clubs will be allowed to hold practice matches
behind closed doors from Tuesday, the K-League said, with the season
delayed by two months so far over the coronavirus epidemic.

South Korea endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease
outside China, but appears to have brought it under control thanks to
its extensive “trace, test and treat” programme.

– Jack Ma donates masks –

China’s richest man, Jack Ma, has donated 100 million face masks to
the World Health Organization in its fight against the coronavirus
pandemic, plus one million high-quality N95 masks and a million test
kits.

The equipment — sent by charitable arms the Jack Ma Foundation and
the Alibaba Foundation — will arrive in the next few days and will be
distributed to needy countries and regions, according to a statement.