Asia Today: Melbourne lockdown to stay; 8 charged for rally

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A man and a child wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus ride on an electric-powered scooter past the Xinfadi wholesale food market district in Beijing, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. According to local news report, Xinfadi market, the capital's biggest wholesale food market have reopen for wholesale operation after it was shutdown following the coronavirus outbreak. China's government on Sunday reported several new coronavirus infections, all believed to have been acquired abroad, and no deaths. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

MELBOURNE – The premier of Australia's Victoria state announced a slight easing of restrictions in Melbourne but the country's second-largest city will remain in lockdown until at least Oct. 26.

State police charged a protester with assault after an officer suffered cuts to the head during an anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne on Saturday.

Police said that seven others have been charged with breaching COVID-19 restrictions after about 200 gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance and Albert Park. Scuffles between protesters and police resulted in more than 160 fines for contravening lockdown measures or not wearing a mask.

“Despite all the warnings, it was disappointing to see individuals turn out to protest in the city, putting the lives of Victorians at risk,” a police statement said.

On Sunday, health officials said Victoria recorded 63 new cases and five more deaths. It takes the state’s total fatalities to 666 and the national death toll to 753.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said that from Sept. 13, the nightly curfew will start an hour later at 9 p.m. and run until 5 a.m. People living alone can nominate a friend or family member who can visit them. Two hours of daily exercise will be allowed, including social interactions such as a picnic at a park or reading a book at the beach.

He said further restrictions could be eased from Sept. 28 and the government will consider lifting the curfew entirely from Oct. 26.

“We can’t run out of lockdown. We have to take steady and safe steps out of lockdown to find that COVID normal,” Andrews said.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— India saw another record surge of 90,632 cases in the past 24 hours, as infections spread to smaller cities and parts of rural India. According to the Health Ministry, India’s caseload reached 4,113,811, slightly short of Brazil’s confirmed 4,123,000 infections. The ministry on Sunday also reported 1,065 deaths for a total of 70,626. More than 1 million cases have been detected in India in less than two weeks. Authorities say India’s daily testing exceeds 1 million now. Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert, said India is seeing a resurgence with over 70% of its nearly 1.4 billion people still susceptible to infections. “We could say that we are seeing some sort of a second wave in certain parts of the country.” India’s recovery rate was 77.23%, leading to a decline in fatality rate to around 1.73% , the ministry said. Six of India’s 28 states — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi — remain the worst-hit, accounting for 75% of fatalities and nearly 65% of total cases.

— Myanmar on Sunday reported 166 new cases of the coronavirus, topping the previous single-day high of 107 reported on Aug 31 and bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,419. The total number of dead from the disease has risen to eight after two new deaths were announced over the weekend. Myanmar had its first confirmed case in late March, but a surge in the western state of Rakhine has roughly doubled the total in the past week alone. The government has responded by imposing new lockdowns along with other restrictions in Rakhine and in major urban areas in other parts of the country.

— South Korea confirmed 167 additional cases of the coronavirus, a gradual downward trend in new infections. The figures announced Sunday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the country’s tally to 21,177 with 334 deaths. It’s the fourth straight day the daily jump has come below 200. The agency says 117 of the newly reported cases were found in the greater Seoul area. South Korea’s caseload had risen sharply since early August, with many cases associated with churches, restaurants, schools and an anti-government rally in Seoul. Authorities in the Seoul area have subsequently imposed tougher social distancing guidelines, restricted dining at restaurants and ordering the shutdowns of churches, indoor gyms, night establishments and after-school academies.

— China’s government on Sunday reported 10 new coronavirus infections, all believed to have been acquired abroad, and no deaths.


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