Asia virus latest: China revises death toll, Duterte threatens crackdown

Singapore (AFP) –


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

- Wuhan deaths rise -

The Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged raised its death toll by 50 percent on Friday, to a total of 3,869.

The revision came as a growing chorus of world leaders suggested China had not been entirely open about the full domestic impact of the virus.

The additional deaths in Wuhan were cases that were "mistakenly reported" or missed entirely, according to the official announcement.

They pushed the nationwide death toll up by nearly 40 percent to 4,632, based on official data released Friday.

Meanwhile, China's economy shrank for the first time in decades during the last quarter.

"We are now facing rising pressure in the prevention of imported epidemic infections, as well as new difficulties and challenges for resuming work and production," National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Mao Shengyong told a press conference.

- Duterte threatens 'martial law' crackdown -

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to order the military and police to take control of the country's capital if people do not start obeying a virus lockdown.

"The military and police will enforce social distancing at curfew... It's like martial law. You choose," he said.

As reported cases of the new coronavirus started to climb in March, Duterte ordered a quarantine of the main northern island of Luzon, which includes Manila's 12 million people.

The Philippines has detected about 5,660 coronavirus cases and recorded 362 deaths, but those figures are expected to climb as the nation ramps up testing.

- Hong Kong airline sheds staff -

Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said it was closing its US cabin crew bases in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles with a loss of 286 jobs.

The airline blamed the coronavirus pandemic, saying it had "virtually halted travel".

Only three percent of its pre-virus routes are running and in March it had just 311,000 passengers -- a 90 percent drop on the same month last year.

"As the economic impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying, a recovery timeline in our customer demand remains impossible to predict," Ronald Lam, Cathay's chief customer and commercial officer, said on Thursday.