Coronavirus latest: Australia permits home visits and opens beaches

Linda J. Dodson

The Nikkei Asian Review is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Global cases have reached 3,020,117, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The worldwide death toll has hit 209,799.

To see how the disease has spread, click this interactive virus tracker:

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):

Tuesday, April 28

10:30 a.m. The Australian state of New South Wales, home to nearly half of the country’s 6,723 Covid-19 cases, says it will relax some restrictions as beaches reopen and hopes rise that a policy of widespread testing helps sustain a decline in new cases. Bondi Beach and two neighboring beaches in Sydney have reopened as of today. On Friday a ban on nonessential movement will be relaxed to allow up to two adults to visit another person’s home.

10:05 a.m. Mainland China reports 6 new coronavirus cases for April 27, up from 3 reported a day earlier, putting its total number of COVID-19 infections to date at 82,836. New asymptomatic cases, involving patients infected with the virus but not showing symptoms, rose to 40 on Monday from 25 the previous day.

9:00 a.m. Japan’s jobs-to-applicants ratio fell to 1.39 in March, the lowest since September 2016. The unemployment rate in March rose to 2.5 percent, up from 2.4 percent in the previous month.

7:30 a.m. In an interview with Nikkei, Nobel laureate Satoshi Omura says the new coronavirus looks less seasonal than influenza, and that heat will not be the magic sword that will bring an end to the pandemic. Instead, Omura said that the high mortality rate among the poor may be related to the lack of access to health care.

6:01 a.m. Argentina bans all commercial flight ticket sales until September, one of the toughest coronavirus travel bans in the world, prompting an industry outcry, reports Reuters.

5:30 a.m. Global COVID-19 cases have surpassed 3 million, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 209,000 have died.

5:00 a.m. U.S. stocks close higher as investors welcomed reports of several U.S. states relaxing shutdown restrictions, with the Dow and S&P 500 both finishing up 1.5%.

4:18 a.m. Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne warned against any attempt by China at “economic coercion” in opposition to Canberra’s push for a probe of Beijing’s response to the pandemic.

The Chinese ambassador to Australia said in an interview on Monday that the Chinese public could avoid Australian products and universities.

2:54 a.m. Russia now has more coronavirus cases than China as its tally surpasses 87,000, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

2:21 a.m. The Indonesian parliament suspends discussions on a key job creation bill led by President Joko Widodo, as the coronavirus outbreak heightens concerns about the proposed legislation’s impact on workers’ rights.

1:20 a.m. Turkey will send medical gear including protective suits and masks to the U.S. on Tuesday, says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Reuters.

Monday, April 27

11:48 p.m. Japan is on the verge of initiating a fast-track approval process for Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir to treat patients infected by the novel coronavirus, says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open higher as the White House made progress moving its supply chain of crucial equipment back to the U.S., with the Dow and S&P 500 up 0.4% and 0.6%, respectively.

9:40 p.m. Fujirebio, a subsidiary of Japanese laboratory testing service provider Miraca Holdings, applied for government approval for Japan’s first antigen coronavirus testing kits, a health ministry official says.

8:55 p.m. Japanese drugmaker Shionogi & Co. says Monday that it is developing a coronavirus vaccine using insects and aims to start clinical trials this year. The drugmaker is working with the health ministry and hopes to eventually produce 10 million doses of the vaccine.

8:33 p.m. The Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday told local governments to stop using Chinese-made coronavirus antibodies tests and to return them to suppliers. The announcement comes after the organization last week asked local governments to suspend the use of the test kits following reports they were unreliable.

The ICMR said in a statement that it had evaluated the kits made by Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics and found that results showed wide variation “despite early promise of good performance.”

8:21 p.m. The Tokyo municipal government reported 39 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the lowest daily increase since March 30, bringing its total to 3,947 with 106 deaths.

8:03 p.m. In Thailand, budget carriers Thai AirAsia and Thai Lion Air will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, among other routes, from May 1.

6:45 p.m. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said schools and educational institutions will remain closed until the novel coronavirus outbreak recedes. “Schools and colleges will all be closed at least until September if the coronavirus outbreak continues,” the country’s state media bdnews24.com reported on Monday.

6:36 p.m. The Philippines reported 198 new infections on Monday, lower than the previous day’s 285, bringing the total to 7,777 with 511 deaths.


Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare, said on Monday that the island would restart economic activities, if the situation continues to improve. (Photo by Kensaku Ihara)

6:30 p.m. Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare, said the island would begin to restart economic activities by easing protective measures, if “the situation continues to improve.” There have been no locally transmitted cases in Taiwan over the past 15 days, although there are still imported cases.

6:06 p.m. Indonesia reported 214 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the lowest daily increase in the past week, bringing its total to 9,096 with 765 deaths.

5:57 p.m. Thailand reported nine new cases of COVID-19, down from 15 on Sunday. This was the first single-digit daily increase since March 14. Thailand’s total confirmed cases rose to 2,931 with 52 fatalities. The government said it would extend its state of emergency through May. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is taking a similar view and extending its inbound flight ban until May 31 from April 30.

5:49 p.m. Malaysia reported 40 new cases of infection, bringing its total to 5,820, while its death toll increased by one to 99.

3:55 p.m. Adidas reports a 93% plunge in first-quarter profit, with sales off 19%, missing forecasts. The German athletic footwear and apparel maker says it took a hit of around 250 million euros ($270.9 million) on unsold stock in greater China, purchase order cancellations and higher bad debt provisions. It warned of a deeper hit to second-quarter revenue due to lockdowns that have forced it to close stores. First-quarter operating profit fell to 65 million euros, well short of the 263 million euros expected by analysts.

2:22 p.m. The Reserve Bank of India announces a “special liquidity facility” of 500 billion rupees ($6.6 billion) for mutual funds to provide additional liquidity amid heightened volatility in capital markets as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. India confirmed 1,396 new infections, down from the 1,990 reported on Sunday morning, bringing the country total to 27,892 with 872 deaths.


The Reserve Bank of India announces a special liquidity facility of about $6.6 billion for mutual funds.

  © Reuters

1:11 p.m. Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso says the coronavirus pandemic has caused “an enormous impact” on domestic and overseas economies, adding that the “extremely severe situation” is expected to continue. Aso made the remark to the lower house of parliament as the government submitted a new 25.6 trillion yen supplementary budget to fund emergency measures.

12:15 p.m. The Bank of Japan further boosts its monetary stimulus at a one-day policy meeting, aiming to support government efforts to rescue the economy from the effects of the virus, and announcing that it is prepared to purchase any amount of Japanese government bonds.

11:00 a.m. March profits in China’s industrial sector plunged 34.9% from a year earlier to 370.66 billion yuan ($52.43 billion), following a 38.3% slump in January-February — the steepest decline since at least 2010. For January-March, profits fell 36.7% to 781.45 billion yuan.

10:30 a.m. China reports three new cases on Sunday, down from 11 on Saturday, with no new deaths. Of the cases, two were imported. The country also reports 25 new asymptomatic cases on the mainland, compared to 30 on Sunday.


China’s industrial companies in March earned combined profits of $52.43 billion, down 34.9% from a year earlier, the latest data shows.(China Daily/Ruters)

10:16 a.m. South Korea reports 10 new cases, keeping the daily tally at 10 or less for five consecutive days and bringing the country total to 10,738 with 243 deaths.

10:15 a.m. Over a million Australians downloaded CovidSafe, an app that traces contacts of COVID-19 patients, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt. Australia has been at the forefront of countries containing the pandemic, recording just 83 deaths and 6,700 cases, due to border closures, movement restrictions and a stay-at-home policy.

9:00 a.m. The global economy must not shut down completely as governments work to contain the outbreak, Fast Retailing Chairman and CEO Tadashi Yanai tells Nikkei in a recent interview, warning that doing so will make a recovery longer and more painful.

8:30 a.m. Mexico has nearly cleared out 3,759 migrants from its 65 migrant facilities, returning most occupants to their countries of origin. Since March 21, the government had been removing migrants to contain the spread of the virus.

5:10 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing St. on Sunday evening after recovering from the coronavirus. He is “raring to go,” says Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who stood in for Johnson during his hospitalization and recovery.

1:48 a.m. Turkey confirms 2,357 new cases, bringing the total to 110,130, Health Ministry data shows. The country’s death toll climbs to 2,805, up 99 from a day earlier.


Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on March 26.

  © Reuters

Sunday, April 26

8:07 p.m. South Korea’s large churches reopen, with worshippers required to maintain distance and wear masks. The government has extended its social distancing policy through May 5, but provided some relief for religious and sports venues.

5:29 p.m. The Philippine Health Ministry reports seven more fatalities due to the coronavirus, raising the nation’s death toll to 501. The ministry confirms 285 new infections, bringing the total to 7,579. A total of 862 patients have recovered.

4:34 p.m. The Chinese city of Wuhan has no coronavirus cases remaining in its hospitals, a health official tells reporters. The city had reported 46,452 cases, 56% of the national total. It saw 3,869 fatalities, or 84% of China’s total.

4:00 p.m. Singapore reports 931 new cases, up from 618 a day earlier, bringing the country total to 13,624. The vast majority of the cases are migrant workers living in dormitories, while 15 are permanent residents.

3:11 p.m. India reports 1,990 new cases, up from the 1,429 recorded Saturday morning, for the country’s biggest 24-hour spike. The nationwide total has risen to 26,496, with 824 deaths, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says.

1:53 p.m. Thailand reports 15 new coronavirus cases but no new deaths. The country has confirmed 2,922 infections and 51 deaths since its outbreak began in January.

10:05 a.m. The pandemic has brought fresh attention to the use of 3D printers in Japan, as users seek a low-cost and small-scale route to create much-needed supplies of face masks, face shields and even ventilators.

9:43 a.m. The global death toll from the new coronavirus tops 200,000 on Saturday, doubling in about two weeks despite international efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 as research into vaccines accelerates. Nearly 90% of the deaths reported come from the United States and Europe, including Italy, Spain and France, as the number of infections surpasses 2.86 million worldwide, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University from government figures.

7:14 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will return to work Monday, a Downing Street spokeswoman confirms, after he recovered from a coronavirus infection that sent him into intensive care for three nights in early April.

1:50 a.m. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to overhaul rules that require signatures using traditional seals — cited as a major obstacle in increasing teleworking and receiving financial aid — as the government races to meet its target of reducing human contact by 80% to fight the coronavirus, Nikkei has learned.

Saturday, April 25

5:45 p.m. Indonesia reports 396 new coronavirus cases, taking its total to 8,607, data provided by a Health Ministry official shows. Thirty-one more people die after testing positive for the virus, raising the country’s total to 720.

5:00 p.m. The Philippine Health Ministry reports 17 new coronavirus deaths and 102 additional infections. Total infections have risen to 7,294, while deaths have climbed to 494.

3:32 p.m. The Philippine central bank projects that the country’s economy will decelerate this year before posting a U-shaped recovery in 2021. The bank expects the economy to shrink by 0.2% in 2020 before growth rebounds to about 7.7% as policy support measures gain traction.

3.25 p.m. India confirms 1,429 new coronavirus cases, down from the 1,684 reported Friday morning. This brings the nationwide total to 24,506 with 775 deaths, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says.

2:50 p.m. Thailand reports 53 new cases of the virus and one death, bringing the total to 2,907 infections and 51 deaths. Overall, 2,547 patients in the country have recovered.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week’s latest updates.

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