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COVID-19 cases continue to grow in Asia-Pacific countries, Japan's Abe hints at possible postponement of Olympics

(Xinhua)    09:28, March 24, 2020

HONG KONG, March 23 (Xinhua) -- The number of COVID-19 cases continued to climb across Asia-Pacific countries on Monday, while Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hinted for the first time at the possibility the forthcoming Olympic Games could be postponed.


The Japanese government is set to tell the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that if the IOC decides to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it will accept the IOC's decision, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

The latest development comes after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday hinted for the first time at the possibility the forthcoming summer games could be postponed if they could not be held in their "complete form" amid the pandemic.

"If it is difficult to hold the games in such a way, we have to decide to postpone it, giving top priority to the health of the athletes," the Japanese leader told a parliamentary session on the matter.

The total number of people infected with the COVID-19 in Japan stood at 1,119 as of 8:30 p.m. local time Monday.

The death toll stands at a total of 52 people, according to the health ministry, with the figure including those from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama, close to Tokyo.


A team of Chinese medical experts arrived in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Monday to help the country fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team, from south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, came with tons of medical supplies including ventilators, medical masks, test kits and others.

Cambodia confirmed on Monday that two more people were tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the kingdom to 86.

The new patients are Cambodians, said a Ministry of Health's Communicable Disease Control Department statement, adding that one patient lives in Koh Kong province and another in Kampong Cham province.


South Korea said on Monday that it will set up the so-called "walking through" virus testing facilities at the country's main gateway Incheon International Airport, west the capital Seoul, to help prevent the COVID-19 cases from being imported from abroad.

The "walking through" testing station is a public phone booth-like virus testing facility, into which testees walk and have their sample taken by the medical staff who stand outside the booth.

It takes about six minutes to test for the virus at the booth, far shorter than some 30 minutes required for conventional testing stations.

In the latest tally, South Korea reported 64 more cases of the COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, lifting the total number to 8,961.

Of the 64 new cases, 14 were imported from overseas, according to the health authorities.


The number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has risen to 462, the country's Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday.

The DOH said in a report that 33 people have died from the highly infectious disease while 18 have recovered.

The eight new deaths include seven patients from Metro Manila and one from Bulacan, a province just outside of the Philippine capital, the DOH added.


The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia has soared over the past day, increasing from 1,098 Sunday morning to 1,479 Monday morning and then to 1,709 Monday afternoon.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy stressed the importance of social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, calling on Australians to "come down hard" on colleagues and friends who ignore self-isolation measures.

As of Monday morning there had been 135,000 tests for COVID-19 undertaken in Australia.

In a post on social media on Monday, Nick Talley, editor-in-chief of the Medical Journal of Australia, announced that a further 500,000 testing kits that deliver results within 15 minutes would arrive in Australia within a week.


The COVID-19 outbreak has claimed 49 lives in Indonesia, while 65 new cases were confirmed on Monday, bringing the total to 579 in the country, the Indonesian government said on Monday.

The country has commenced delivery of more protective gears for medical workers as six doctors have died while treating patients infected by the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the government has turned the Wisma Atlet Kemayoran, the apartment towers in Central Jakarta which were used to billet athletes competing in the 2018 Asian Games, into an emergency hospital to treat people with the COVID-19. The hospital intends to treat as many as 24,000 patients, starting operation on Monday afternoon.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India rose to 421 on Monday, India's federal health ministry said.

Of all the cases, 349 are Indian nationals and 41 are foreign nationals.

According to ministry officials, so far seven deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported across the country and 24 people have been discharged from hospitals.

The Indian government has banned the entry of all international commercial passenger flights for one week.


A total of 14 individuals have died of the COVID-19 in Malaysia as of Monday with 212 newly confirmed cases, and the total cases of the COVID-19 in the country now stand at 1,518, according to the Health Ministry.

This marked the first time that Malaysia recorded a daily increase of newly confirmed case of more than 200.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah told a press briefing that among the new cases, at least 123 were traced to a large-scale religious event held near the capital of Kuala Lumpur from late February to early March.

Malaysia is implementing a two-week "movement control order" including closing shops and schools as well as imposing travel bans. It called for residents to stay at home in an effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.


After around two months of the first positive case, Nepal on Monday confirmed the second positive case of COVID-19 in a teenager.

The Ministry of Health and Population confirmed that a Nepali national, a female student, who flew from France to Nepal via Qatar has been tested positive.


Fiji confirmed on Monday its third case of COVID-19 following a 27-year-old Fiji Airways attendant who tested positive last Thursday.

Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said in a statement on Monday that the 14-month-old baby, the flight attendant's nephew, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.


Thailand's Ministry of Public Health on Monday reported 122 new cases of COVID-19, raising the total number in the country to 721.

Using a mathematical model, Dr. Supakit Sirilak, deputy secretary-general of the Public Health Ministry, said there is a strong possibility that Thailand could follow the footsteps of countries like Italy and the United States which now each have tens of thousands of infection cases and mounting death tolls.

Supakit issued a grave warning, quoting "if you do not want to see Thailand experience grave consequences of COVID-19 outbreak, please stay home and practice serious social distancing."


Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry on Monday reported six more confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 40 in the country.

Three cases in western Herat province bordered with Iran, two in the neighboring Farah and another in Ghor province have been tested positive, Public Health Ministry's spokesman Wahidullah Mayar told Xinhua.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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