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Asia virus latest: China revises death toll, Duterte threatens crackdown

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

– Wuhan deaths rise –

The Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged raised its death toll by 50 percent to a total of 3,869.

The revision came as a growing chorus of world leaders suggested China had not been entirely open about the full domestic impact of the virus.

The additional deaths in Wuhan were cases that were “mistakenly reported” or missed entirely, according to the official announcement.

That also pushed the nationwide death toll up sharply to 4,632, based on official data.

Meanwhile, China’s economy shrank for the first time in decades during the last quarter.

“We are now facing rising pressure in the prevention of imported epidemic infections, as well as new difficulties and challenges for resuming work and production,” National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Mao Shengyong told a press conference.

– Duterte threatens ‘martial law’ crackdown –

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to order the military and police to take control of the country’s capital if people do not start obeying a virus lockdown.

“The military and police will enforce social distancing at curfew… It’s like martial law. You choose,” he said.

The Philippines has detected about 5,660 coronavirus cases and recorded 362 deaths, but those figures are expected to climb as the nation ramps up testing.

Duterte’s remarks came as nine inmates locked up at the Quezon City Jail in Manila — which is so overfull that prisoners have to take turns sleeping in staircases and open-air basketball courts — tested positive for the virus.

About 30 other prisoners at the facility were showing virus symptoms, sparking urgent calls from rights groups to avert “catastrophe” by easing congestion.

– Hong Kong airline sheds staff –

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said it was closing its US cabin crew bases in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles with a loss of 286 jobs.

The airline blamed the coronavirus pandemic, saying it had “virtually halted travel”.

Only three percent of its pre-virus routes are running and in March it had just 311,000 passengers — a 90 percent drop on the same month last year.

“As the economic impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying, a recovery timeline in our customer demand remains impossible to predict,” said Ronald Lam, Cathay’s chief customer and commercial officer.

– Australia police track cruise passengers –

Australian police began contacting thousands of Ruby Princess cruise ship passengers from around the world as part of a criminal investigation into the liner, whose arrival in Sydney led to hundreds of coronavirus cases and at least 19 deaths in the country.

A questionnaire will be sent to more than 5,000 people. It follows reports a Californian man became the first international death linked to the cruise ship.

“The questionnaire will allow us to zero in on elements of the cruise that we are interested in,” Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith told reporters.

Police are investigating operator Carnival Australia over the circumstances that led to thousands of passengers disembarking in mid-March despite some exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

– Maldives extends strict lockdown –

With seven new confirmed virus infections, the Maldivian authorities have extended a lockdown in the capital island of Male to cover the entire archipelago.

Travel within inhabited islands has been banned until further notice. The country has reported 25 cases, 16 of them foreign nationals.

A 24-hour curfew in Male, where 150,000 people live within two square kilometres (0.8 square miles), has been extended for a further 24 hours until Saturday afternoon, prohibiting anyone from leaving their homes.

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Published on 03.01.2023

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