Asia virus latest: China bans foreigners, markets up on stimulus

Singapore (AFP) –


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

- China bars foreigners to halt second wave -

Foreigners are banned from entering China, while non-nationals with valid visas and resident permits will be blocked from coming to the country, in a bid to halt a second wave of infections.

Other measures include reducing the number of international flights and limiting the capacity on board to 75 percent.

In recent weeks, China's tally of cases has dwindled dramatically, with only a handful of domestic patients each day -- but there has been a surge of infected people arriving from new hotspots overseas.

President Xi Jinping meanwhile said China and the United States should "unite to fight" the pandemic in a call with US counterpart Donald Trump, according to state media. Beijing and Washington have clashed in recent weeks over the virus.

- Markets bounce on US stimulus -

Asian equities mostly rose again and the dollar extended losses, with traders buoyed by government and central bank pledges to prop up the virus-ravaged global economy.

Markets have had a brutal month as the pandemic spreads around the globe, but have recovered some ground in recent days as policymakers unleash unprecedented stimulus measures.

- Singaporeans may face jail for standing too close -

Singaporeans could be jailed for up to six months if they intentionally stand close to someone else, under tough new rules to halt the spread of the virus.

The city-state has introduced a series of new measures to tackle the virus, including closing bars and cinemas as well as banning large events.

- Tokyo businesses to close as cases rise -

Businesses in the greater Tokyo region prepared to shut their doors, at least for the weekend, after governor Yuriko Koike made a call for their help in preventing the spread of the virus.

People in the Japanese capital have been urged to stay at home this weekend after Koike warned of a possible "explosion" of the virus following a rise in cases.

- Emergency flights for people stranded in South Asia -

Foreign governments stepped up operations to evacuate tens of thousands of tourists stranded by the coronavirus pandemic in remote locations across South Asia, from the Everest base camp to beach hotels in Sri Lanka.

More than 10,000 people are stranded in Nepal, almost 17,000 tourists are stuck in Sri Lanka, while tens of thousands of travellers and expatriates are in India, according to authorities.

- Singapore Airlines to get cash injection -

Singapore's flag carrier said it was getting extra funding of up to Sg$19 billion (US$13 billion) to help weather the pandemic, which is hammering the aviation sector.

The airline will raise up to Sg$15 billion with the backing of its majority shareholder, state investment fund Temasek, while local bank DBS will provide a Sg$4 billion loan.

- India cuts interest rates -

India's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points to 4.40 percent, following similar moves by policymakers worldwide who are battling to stave off a major economic crisis.

- Malaysia stimulus package -

Malaysia announced a 250 billion ringgit (US$57 billion) stimulus package to combat the fallout from the pandemic, including direct payments to people, rent waivers, and electricity bill discounts.

- Indonesia response 'in tatters' -

Indonesia's coronavirus crisis is far worse than being officially reported and the government's response is "in tatters", the country's doctors association warned as the death toll climbed to 87.

The world's fourth-most populous country only reported its first confirmed infection this month but by Friday, that had ballooned to over 1,000.