The government announced Monday that Chinese health officials will test a total of nine million people for the coronavirus in the eastern city of Qingdao this week after nine cases related to the hospital were discovered.
Despite China’s practice of not reporting asymptomatic cases, the statement broke a two – month series without virus transmissions in China. The ruling Communist Party lifted many restrictions on travel and business, but monitored travelers and visitors to public buildings for signs of infection.
Authorities are examining the source of the infection in eight patients and one family member at Qingdao Municipal Chest Hospital, the National Health Commission said.
“The entire city will be tested in five days,” it said on its social media account.
China, where the pandemic erupted in December, recorded 4,634 deaths and 85,578 cases, while nine suspected cases have yet to be confirmed.
The last reported outbreak of the virus in China was on August 15 when four patients were found in the northwestern city of Urunqi in the Xinjiang region. All cases reported since then have been among travelers outside the mainland.
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In April, the ruling party lifted measures to reduce access to cities with a total population of 60 million, including Wuhan in central China.
Qingdao is a busy port with the headquarters of companies including a major equipment manufacturer Haier and Singtaw Brewery. The government has not given any indication as to whether the latest cases have ties to travel or trade.
Foreign travelers to China face another 14 days in custody.
Other developments in the Asia-Pacific region include:
In the last 24 hours, India reported 66,732 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 7.1 million. The health ministry said Monday that 816 people had died in the past 24 hours. The total death toll was 109,150. India is seeing a new daily outbreak of the virus, with daily infections hitting a record 97,894 cases since mid-September. There have been an average of over 70,000 cases per day so far this month. Health experts have warned that the compounds could spread the virus during major festivals later this month and in November. They warn that respiratory diseases will worsen in the coming winter.
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Malaysia will restrict movement in its largest city, Kuala Lumpur, the neighboring state of Selangor and the administrative capital Putrajaya from Wednesday to curb the rise in coronavirus cases. Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Jacob said all schools in the area would be closed and all religious, sports and social activities would be suspended for two weeks. He said economic activity could continue with tough health measures. The move comes just four months after a three-month nationwide lockdown was lifted to control the pandemic. It faced new wave of cases after rising to election last month in the eastern Sabah state, a hotspot on the island of Borneo. Several politicians, including a cabinet minister, tested positive for the virus after returning from Sabah. Prime Minister Muhiddin Yassin had to isolate himself for two weeks after making contact with the minister. The government had earlier announced that it would keep Saban on the banned movement orders from Tuesday. Ismail said inter-district travel was banned under a partial lockdown, unless approved. Other restrictions include a limit of two people per household to purchase groceries. More than 16,000 cases have been reported in Malaysia with 157 deaths.
Authorities in the Indonesian capital have moved to ease tough social sanctions, despite a steady rise in cases across the country. Jakarta imposed large-scale social sanctions from April to June, then gradually reduced them. The city brought in tougher sanctions last month as the virus spread. Anis Basvedan, the Jakarta government, said his administration had decided to reduce sanctions from Monday as the rise in infections had stabilized. The move comes just days after President Joko Widodo urged local administrations not to impose lockdown measures that would cause disability economic damage in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
Sri Lankan authorities say they have temporarily suspended the repatriation of nationals trapped abroad by the coronavirus as the country’s detention facilities are overcrowded. Army Commander Shavendra Silva, who is leading the task force for virus control, said the quarantine facilities were filled with a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 patients last week. Sri Lanka has previously claimed to have successfully infected the virus, with no local infections reported for two months. But earlier this month a cluster emerged in a textile factory, with 1,307 new cases received in just one week. A total of 4,791 cases were reported in the country, including 13 deaths.
South Korea has confirmed 97 new cases of coronavirus, moderate from the daily levels reported last week. The increase comes as authorities eased social distance restrictions after it was found that broadcasts had slowed after a rebound in mid-August. Figures released Monday by the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Organization have brought the number of infections, including 433 deaths, since the pandemic began at 24,703. South Korea has relaxed its social distance guidelines from Monday to keep high-risk businesses such as nightclubs and concert bars open as long as they use preventive measures. Spectators are also allowed at professional sports events, although teams are initially allowed to sell only 30% of the seats in stadiums.
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