Asia Today: Indonesian capital partly reopens after lockdown

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Vehicles are caught in a congestion as the flow of traffic of the capital significantly increases during a rush hour in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, June 8, 2020. Indonesias capital of Jakarta, the city hardest hit by the new coronavirus, has partly reopened after two months of partial lockdown as the worlds fourth most populous nation braces to gradually reopen its economy. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

WELLINGTON – JAKARTA, IndonesiaRestrictions in Indonesia’s capital were partly relaxed on Monday after two months of lockdown, as the world’s fourth most populous nation gradually reopens its economy.

Jakarta, home to 11 million people, had been under large-scale social restrictions since April 10.

Offices, restaurants and grocery stores reopened with only 50% of their employees and customers. Public transportation also resumed.

On Friday, mosques and all other worship facilities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country were allowed to reopen at half capacity and with social-distancing requirements in place.

Schools remain closed during this month’s transition to a “new normal,” while some shopping centers, zoos and beaches will reopen next week.

Images on social media showed long lines of travelers at railway stations waiting to board trains back to Jakarta, with many ignoring distancing rules.

Jakarta has recorded more than 8,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 529 deaths. Nationwide, there have been 31,186 confirmed infections and 1,851 fatalities.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— NEW ZEALAND SAYS VIRUS ERADICATED: New Zealand has eradicated the coronavirus from its shores after the final person known to have been infected recovered. It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand, and Monday also marked the first time since late February that there have been no active cases. Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, including 22 who died. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said almost all remaining virus restrictions would be lifted at midnight. Border closings and quarantine will continue.

— INDIA REOPENS FURTHER AS CASES RISE: India is reopening its restaurants, shopping malls and religious places in most states even as its cases grow. The health ministry added 9,983 cases, raising India's count past 256,000 to fifth most in the world. The 206 fatalities reported Monday is the highest single-day rise and takes the country's death toll to 7,135. New Delhi also reopened its state borders, allowing interstate movement of persons and goods. India already partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen. E-commerce companies are delivering goods to most places, except containment zones, where the risk of the virus spreading remains high and which are the last places where the lockdown is still being enforced.

— CHINA SENDS PHYSICIANS TO BANGLADESH: China on Monday sent a 10-member team of physicians to Bangladesh to help fight the coronavirus, as the number of infections in the South Asian nation approaches 70,000. The team consists of 10 respiratory physicians selected by the Hainan Provincial Health Commission in China, according to the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka. Bangladesh confirmed 2,735 new cases of the virus on Monday, raising its total to 68,504, including 930 deaths. Bangladesh has been struggling to deal with the virus and a falling economy because of a nationwide lockdown.

— S. KOREA SCHOOLS FULLY REOPEN: South Korea reported 38 new cases, most of them in the Seoul region, where authorities are trying to stem transmissions among e-commerce workers, door-to-door sellers and people who went out amid loosened social distancing. Health Minister Park Neunghoo called for officials to examine supplies of testing equipment in case infections continue to increase. Schools were fully back in session Monday with the last grades returning to classes in the final phase of the reopening. South Korea’s government is urging people to stay home, if possible, but it is resisting calls to enforce stronger social distancing for fear of further hurting the economy.

— CHINA REOPENS PETITION OFFICE: China reported four new cases, all of them brought from outside China. China has recorded a total of 4,634 deaths out of 83,040 total cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese industrial city of Wuhan late last year. China has increasingly opened up with the sharp reduction of cases, and the capital Beijing on Monday said it was reopening the office where citizens can bring their complaints and petitions.

— SRI LANKA RESUMES NORMAL BUS, TRAIN SERVICES: Sri Lankan authorities resumed normal bus and train services on Monday. The island nation had previously operated limited services due to a coronavirus lockdown. It imposed a 24-hour curfew in March. Since April, the authorities have been easing the lockdown in phases. Authorities say Sri Lanka has prevented a community spread of the virus. The country has confirmed 1,835 cases, including 11 deaths.