Asia virus latest: South Korea election win; Singapore cases surge

Singapore (AFP) –


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

- Ruling party wins South Korea election -

South Korea's left-leaning ruling party won a landslide election victory, results showed, after the coronavirus pandemic turned the political tide in President Moon Jae-in's favour.

His Democratic Party secured the largest absolute majority in the National Assembly since the advent of democracy in 1987 on a turnout of 66.2 percent -- the highest at a parliamentary election for 28 years.

- Singapore sees more cases in worker dorms -

Singapore's latest report recorded 447 new infections, a record daily increase, with the majority linked to crowded dormitories housing low-paid foreign workers.

The city-state, which has registered 3,699 infections and 10 deaths, initially managed to keep its outbreak in check, but is now battling a fast-rising second wave.

Authorities are moving thousands of workers -- many South Asian -- to alternative accommodation to reduce the risk of infection.

- Japan PM to expand virus emergency nationwide -

Japan's government will convene a key panel of medics to advise on its state of emergency over the coronavirus, as local media reported the prime minister would expand the measures to cover the entire country.

Shinzo Abe has already declared a month-long state of emergency in seven regions, including Tokyo.

- New Zealand considers easing lockdown -

New Zealand is expected to start easing a nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus next week, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned it would be far from a return to normal.

The Pacific country of five million people has been one of the most successful in containing the outbreak, with just over 1,000 known cases and nine deaths.

- US, China call for cooperation as tensions rise -

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a top Chinese official called for mutual coronavirus cooperation, signalling a bid to keep a lid on tensions between the two countries.

President Donald Trump's administration has berated China for not sharing data more quickly, and said it was freezing funds to the World Health Organization for not challenging Beijing.

- Markets follow Wall Street lead lower -

Asian markets fell following overnight woes on Wall Street as more negative US economic data fuelled worries about the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

- All Blacks get 50 percent pay freeze -

New Zealand's national rugby team accepted a 50 percent pay freeze and the players' association said it was preparing for the nightmare scenario of no more professional matches this year.

After the coronavirus pandemic shut down global sport, New Zealand Rugby and the players' association agreed to put on hold US$15 million, or 50 percent of the year's remaining forecast player spending.

- China reports mostly imported cases -

Following the same pattern of recent days, China reported mostly imported infections -- 34 brought in from overseas, as well as 12 domestic cases.

China has successfully contained its domestic outbreak since the virus emerged there late last year but is now struggling with a new wave of cases brought in mostly by returning nationals.

- Indonesia probes claims of bribes for jail release -

Indonesian authorities are investigating claims that inmates or their families paid bribes to secure their freedom when thousands of prisoners were released this month to reduce overcrowding and the risk of virus outbreaks.

The justice minister has threatened to fire officials who are found to have accepted kickbacks in exchange for releasing prisoners, but stressed that no cases of bribery had been proven so far.

- Vietnam embraces kitchen nightmares in lockdown -

Burnt bread, collapsed cakes and inedible potatoes: the kitchen failures of Vietnamese families in self-isolation are being shared online, with hundreds of thousands joining a Facebook group to commiserate over their culinary catastrophes.