Asia Today: Beijing reinstates virus controls as cases rise

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China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from the virus among 83,181 confirmed cases.

The new cases reported in the past few days mark China’s highest daily total of coronavirus cases in two months, prompting Beijing to suspend the restart of some classes and reverse the relaxation of some social isolation measures.

Beijing also closed the Xinfadi food market, ordered testing of all its workers and is requiring anyone who traveled there to self-isolate for two weeks.

Eleven residential compounds neighboring the market have been put on lockdown.

Beijing health officials said gene sequencing showed the virus strain causing the new outbreak was related to that in Europe, though it wasn’t clear if it was being spread by the movement of people or transportation of food.

Restaurants in the city have been ordered to conduct tests on all their uncooked food.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— INDIA MAY EMPLOY TRAIN CARRIAGES: India’s home minister has offered 500 railway carriages for use as makeshift coronavirus hospital wards as New Delhi struggles to contain a spike in cases. The capital has about 9,000 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients in public and private hospitals, but a state government panel of experts has said it will need at least 15,000 beds by the end of June. The Health Ministry reported a jump of more than 11,000 new infections nationwide for a third consecutive day, taking the total number of recorded infections to more than 332,000. There have been 9,520 deaths.

— HONG KONG DISNEY SET TO REOPEN: Hong Kong Disneyland will reopen Thursday after being closed since January. It will limit the number of visitors and will require masks and health forms and use social distancing. Activities that require close interaction such as photo sessions with Disney characters will remain suspended, the park said. Hong Kong’s social distancing measures, which prohibits gatherings of more than eight people and limits the capacity of restaurants and eateries, remain in place until Thursday. The city has reported 1,110 cases of infection, with numbers declining recently.

— SRI LANKA REOPENS WILDLIFE PARKS: Sri Lankan authorities on Monday reopened wildlife parks and zoos, which had been closed for nearly three months due to COVID-19 restrictions. Parks and zoos were closed on March 15, days before a lockdown was imposed. Visitors are now required to follow health guidelines such as wearing face masks and social distancing. Sri Lanka says that no COVID-19 patients have been reported outside known clusters for the past month. The Indian Ocean island nation has confirmed 1,901 coronavirus cases, including 11 deaths.

— SOUTH KOREA REPORTS 37 NEW CASES: South Korea reported 37 new cases, bringing its caseload to 12,121 infections, including 277 deaths. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 25 of the cases came from the Seoul area, where health authorities are scrambling to trace infections linked to entertainment and leisure activities, church gatherings, warehouse workers and door-to-door sellers. At least 1,346 infections are linked to international arrivals, mostly South Koreans returning home from abroad.

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