Asia virus latest: Wuhan lockdown ends, markets drop

Singapore (AFP) –


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

- Joy as exodus from Wuhan begins -

Voicing joy and excitement from behind face masks, tens of thousands of people fled Wuhan after a 76-day travel ban was lifted on the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged.

Previously quiet train and bus stations bustled as an exodus began from the city of 11 million, with some passengers wearing hazmat suits.

Up to 55,000 people are expected to leave Wuhan on Wednesday just by train, according to government estimates.

- Markets drop after two-day rally -

Most Asian equities retreated after a two-day rally as investors closely track developments in the coronavirus crisis, while the oil market continued to fluctuate ahead of a crucial producers' meeting.

While the deadly disease continues to sweep across the planet, signs that the rate of infections is possibly levelling out and countries are preparing to ease some lockdown restrictions have instilled a semblance of optimism this week.

- Chinese city locked down after influx of imported cases -

A Chinese city on the Russian border has placed residents under lockdown after an influx of imported cases in nationals returning from Russia.

Suifenhe city in northeastern Heilongjiang province has tightened controls on residential compounds starting Wednesday after a flurry of new cases.

- Korean Air puts 70 percent of staff on leave -

South Korea's flag carrier Korean Air will put 70 percent of its 19,000 staff on furlough, it said, as it scrambles to cope with the pandemic that has almost grounded global aviation.

The airline industry is among the sectors worst hit by the virus and the ensuing travel restrictions, with thousands of flights cancelled, routes cut, and companies facing financial turmoil.

- Virus stops play at Trump-opened mega cricket stadium -

There is no larger symbol of the global sports shutdown than cricket's 110,000-seater Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, opened by US President Donald Trump, but yet to see a ball bowled.

India's newest and the world's biggest cricket stadium lies empty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

- Party pooper: Singapore bans soirees -

Singapore is banning "private parties and social get-togethers", according to the health ministry, the latest tough measure implemented in the city-state to halt the spread of the virus.

The step was included in a bill passed through parliament Tuesday, the same day that new restrictions kicked in which include the closure of most workplaces for a month.