Asia virus latest: India extends lockdown; Singapore lifts teacher Zoom ban

Singapore (AFP) –


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

- India nationwide lockdown extended -

India's nationwide lockdown, the biggest imposed in the world over the coronavirus pandemic, will be extended until at least May 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

The current three-week-old lockdown of the nation of 1.3 billion people had been scheduled to end at midnight Tuesday.

"From the economic angle, we have paid a big price," Modi said in a nationwide address. "But the lives of the people of India are far more valuable."

- Singapore allows teachers to use Zoom again -

The city-state is allowing teachers to resume using Zoom, the video-conferencing platform said, following its suspension for online lessons last week after gatecrashers interrupted a class and made lewd comments.

Zoom -- which has exploded in popularity but faces growing security concerns -- said it had taken steps to address the education ministry's concerns, including giving officials control over teacher accounts.

Singapore meanwhile reported 386 new coronavirus cases, its biggest increase in a single day, as the city-state battles a growing second wave of infections.

- Australia, New Zealand flatten virus curve but keep lockdowns intact -

Australia and New Zealand brushed aside calls for an easing of tough restrictions on travel and public gatherings despite their success in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

The number of new coronavirus cases in the neighbouring nations has fallen dramatically in the last two weeks, raising hopes that difficult social distancing measures may be relaxed.

Tasmania, meanwhile, ordered an investigation into reports of an "illegal" dinner party attended by medical workers that caused an outbreak of COVID-19 and forced two hospitals in the Australian island state to close.

- ASEAN leaders meet online -

Vietnam will urge Southeast Asian leaders to set up an emergency fund to tackle the coronavirus at a summit held online, as the pandemic ravages the region's tourism and export-reliant economies.

Hanoi is chairing an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting on COVID-19, with the country touting its success so far in containing the virus with extensive quarantines and social distancing.

- Markets rise on China trade data -

Asian markets posted gains as better than expected Chinese trade data suggested a rebound from the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

- China reports more imported cases -

China reported 89 new coronavirus infections, 86 of which were imported from overseas.

The country where the virus emerged last year has largely brought its domestic outbreak under control, but faces a growing second wave of infections brought in from overseas by returning nationals.

- World's smallest woman in India stay-at-home virus appeal -

The world's shortest woman took to the streets in central India to call on people to stay at home, after police appealed for help enforcing a coronavirus lockdown.

Jyoti Amge, who is just 62.8 centimetres tall (just over two feet tall), encouraged people to wash their hands and wear a mask and gloves when they leave their homes as she made appearances across Nagpur city, in Maharashtra state.