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HONG KONG, April 5 — Here are the latest developments in Asia related to the coronavirus pandemic:
Australia sends cruise ships on their way
The largest maritime operation ever undertaken in Sydney Harbour was completed today with the successful restocking and refuelling of five cruise ships, Australian police said.
It was part of government efforts since mid-March to force vessels to leave the country’s waters to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus in Australia.
Cruise ship guests have so far accounted for almost 10 per cent of Australia’s more than 5,500 infections.
At least half a dozen other ships are believed to still be in Australian waters.
Meanwhile police launched a criminal investigation to probe whether the Ruby Princess vessel honestly reported the health conditions of its passengers before they disembarked in Sydney. Hundreds later tested positive and 10 died.
Authorities have also warned Australians to be wary of imported Covid-19 home testing kits, saying border officials had intercepted several “faulty” consignments from China in recent weeks.
Pakistan hunts worshippers
Pakistani authorities are searching for tens of thousands of worshippers who attended an Islamic gathering in Lahore last month amid fears they could be spreading Covid-19 across the country.
At least 154 attendees have tested positive following the Tablighi Jamaat event, which attracted 100,000 people and took place despite government requests to cancel in light of the worsening pandemic.
About 2,500 people — including 1,500 foreigners — who had remained around the event site, which includes a mosque and sleeping quarters, have been placed in quarantine.
Drive-by blessings in the Philippines
Priests delivered blessings from the back of trucks and motorised tricycles in the Philippines today, adapting the deeply Catholic nation’s traditions to the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
Locals in their fourth week of lockdown in Manila lined up in front of their homes to watch the priests on Palm Sunday, the start of the week that culminates with the observance of Easter.
Cash injection in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced a set of stimulus packages worth US$8.5 billion to help the country’s economy ride out the damage inflicted by the pandemic.
In a speech broadcast live from her office in Dhaka, Hasina said the money would be mostly provided as low-interest loans to hard-hit manufacturers and small and medium-sized enterprises.
South Korea threatens deportation
Authorities said today that anyone arriving in South Korea who violates quarantine measures — including the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period or by giving a false testimony — will face up to one year in prison or a 10 million won (US$8,090) fine.
“There have recently been cases of people giving false testimony or violating isolation measures,” said Kwon Jun-wook, deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Foreigners who fail to comply can be immediately deported or banned from re-entering the country, authorities said. — AFP
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