Asia virus latest: China epicentre starts to reopen, security talks off

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

Wuhan eases travel rules

Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged last year, partly reopened on Saturday after more than two months of near total isolation for its population of 11 million.

People are now allowed to enter Wuhan but not leave. State media showed the first officially sanctioned passenger train arriving there just after midnight.

The city in Hubei province was placed under lockdown in January with roadblocks ring-fencing its outskirts and drastic restrictions on daily life.

Security talks cancelled

A top Asian security conference that gathers defence ministers—including from the US and China—and senior military officials was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, held annually since 2002, had been scheduled for early June in Singapore with more than 40 countries set to participate.

But its organiser, the London-based think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies, said it had decided to cancel this year’s event “in light of the serious challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic” such as travel restrictions imposed by many nations.

Indian migrants walk home

Thousands of migrant workers in India, left jobless and penniless by the full shutdown of the country, are walking long distances back to their home villages after all transport was stopped except for essential services.

Huge numbers had crammed onto trains and buses before the country of 1.3 billion people ground to a halt for three weeks, but many others were left stranded.

“Rather than die hungry, we decided to walk,” said Dilipji Thakor, who worked at a now-shuttered shopping mall in Ahmedabad in Gujarat state, as he trudged along a road.

South Korea recoveries

More than 50 percent of South Korea’s 9,478 confirmed coronavirus cases have now recovered, authorities said Saturday.

The figures are “a small achievement that our entire society can celebrate together”, disaster agency official Yoon Tae-ho said.

Once the hardest-hit country outside China, South Korea appears to have brought its outbreak under control thanks to its huge “trace, test and treat” strategy.

It has tested more than 380,000 people in a process that is free to anyone referred by doctors or those who have links to a confirmed case.

Aussie local election goes ahead

People in the Australian state of Queensland were urged to vote in local elections or face a fine of Aus$133 ($80), as polls went ahead despite most citizens being encouraged to stay home to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The state’s top health official said it was safe to vote in person as long as people followed social distancing guidelines.

Many of the three million eligible voters had cast their ballot early, or remotely by post or telephone. But long queues were reported outside some booths on Saturday due to limits on the number of people allowed inside at once.

Police officer tested after alleged spitting

An Australian police officer is being tested for COVID-19 after a 25-year-old woman arrested for speeding allegedly spat and coughed in their face.

The woman—who allegedly fled from a traffic stop in Sydney at more than double the speed limit—claimed she was on her way to be tested for the virus, police said. Although the woman was not showing any symptoms, the officer is now undergoing testing.

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