Asia Today: New restrictions coming for Australian hot spot

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s hot spot Victoria state on Tuesday reported 374 new cases of COVID-19, its second-highest daily tally.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews also announced three more deaths, bringing the national death toll 126.

Andrews said a lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne, which began two weeks ago, was having an impact.

“You’d like to see numbers coming down. At the end of the day though, we’re not seeing the doubling and doubling again” of cases, Andrews said. “So what that says to me … is that the sorts of measures we’ve put in place are having a direct impact.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said military personnel were helping Victorian health authorities deal with the growing caseload.

“We’re still very much in the hard part of this fight, as you can see from the daily case numbers and I’m not expecting that to change a lot in the short term,” Morrison said. “And we just need to keep working the problem.”

Tighter regulations will come into force on the Victoria-New South Wales border on Wednesday that will only allow border communities to cross for essential work, health and education reasons.

Face masks will become compulsory from Thursday for residents in lockdown regions when they leave their homes.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— A surge of 37,140 new positive cases in the past 24 hours has taken India’s coronavirus caseload to 1,155,191. The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 587 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 28,084. The number of recoveries stand at 724,577. With a surge in virus cases in the past few weeks, state governments in India have been ordering focused lockdowns in high-risk areas to slow down the spread of infections. India’s top medical research body, the Indian Council for Medical Research, has asked the states to add more labs and enhance existing testing capacity.

— Nepal will allow both domestic and international flights to resume beginning Aug. 17. The government hasn’t decided what types of visitors will be allowed entry and from which countries. Flights were stopped in March when the country was in full lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Only chartered and repatriation flights were allowed to fly out stranded tourists and return Nepalese workers from abroad. The government eased the lockdown last month. Schools are still closed and there are some restrictions on transit and travel. The country has 17,844 cases of virus infection and 40 deaths from COVID-19.

— Numbers of new cases in China’s latest coronavirus outbreak fell on Tuesday, with just eight reported in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Another three cases were brought from outside the country, according to the National Health Commission, bringing China’s total to 83,693 with 4,634 deaths. Xinjiang cases have been concentrated in the regional capital of Urumqi, where around 50 people and possibly more have been infected. China responded swiftly to the Xinjiang outbreak by reducing subway, bus and taxi service in Urumqi, closing some communities, imposing travel restrictions and ordering widespread testing. Elsewhere in China, containment measures continue to be relaxed while mask wearing, temperature taking and social distancing remain the norm.

— South Korea’s new virus cases have bounced back to above 40, a day after it reported its smallest daily jump in local COVID-19 transmissions in two months. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 45 new cases Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to 13,816 with 296 deaths. The agency says 20 of the newly recorded cases were locally infected patients while the rest 25 were associated with international arrivals. Two-week quarantines are enforced on all travelers arriving from abroad in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

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