Asia virus latest: Wuhan lockdown ends, markets drop

·3 min read

Here are the latest developments from Asia related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

- Joy as exodus from Wuhan begins -

Voicing joy and excitement from behind face masks, tens of thousands of people fled Wuhan after a more than two-month travel ban on the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged was lifted.

Previously quiet train and bus stations bustled as an exodus began from the city of 11 million, with some passengers wearing hazmat suits.

Up to 55,000 people are expected to leave Wuhan on Wednesday just by train, according to government estimates.

- Markets drop after two-day rally -

Most Asian equities retreated after a two-day rally as investors closely track developments in the coronavirus crisis, while the oil market continued to fluctuate ahead of a crucial producers' meeting.

While the deadly disease continues to sweep across the planet, signs that the rate of infections is possibly levelling out and countries are preparing to ease some lockdown restrictions have instilled a semblance of optimism.

- Home distillers get busy in Sri Lanka -

The manufacture of moonshine has spiked in Sri Lanka as a nation-wide indefinite curfew imposed to contain COVID-19 grinds through its third week, officials said Wednesday.

With a blanket ban on the sale of alcohol, there were reports of illicit distilleries mushrooming across the island to fill the void, police and excise officials said.

- Chinese city locked down after influx of imported cases -

A Chinese city on the Russian border has placed residents under lockdown after an influx of imported cases in nationals returning from Russia.

Suifenhe city in northeastern Heilongjiang province has tightened controls on residential compounds starting Wednesday after a flurry of new cases.

- Korean Air puts 70 percent of staff on leave -

South Korea's flag carrier Korean Air will put 70 percent of its 19,000 staff on furlough, it said, as it scrambles to cope with the pandemic that has almost grounded global aviation.

The airline industry is among the sectors worst hit by the virus and the ensuing travel restrictions, with thousands of flights cancelled, routes cut, and companies facing financial turmoil.

- Indonesian 'pandemic bonds' raise billions -

As part of its pandemic bond programme, Indonesia says it has already raised $4.3 billion with about $1 billion carrying a 50-year maturity, reportedly the longest-dated US dollar bond ever issued by an Asian nation.

The central government also says it will give 600,000 rupiah ($37) in cash per month to more than four million people in greater Jakarta to help cushion the blow from the virus, as the city gets set for stricter social distancing measures that come into effect from Friday.

- Virus delays play at Trump-opened mega cricket stadium -

There is no larger symbol of the global sports shutdown than cricket's 110,000-seater Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, opened by US President Donald Trump, but yet to see a ball bowled.

India's newest and the world's biggest cricket stadium lies empty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

- Party pooper: Singapore bans soirees -

Singapore is banning "private parties and social get-togethers", according to the health ministry, the latest tough measure implemented in the city-state to halt the spread of the virus.

The step was included in a bill passed through parliament Tuesday, the same day that new restrictions kicked in which include the closure of most workplaces for a month.


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