Asia virus latest: Virgin Australia collapses; oil rebounds

Singapore (AFP) –


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

- Virgin Australia collapses -

Cash-strapped Virgin Australia collapsed Tuesday, making it the largest carrier to buckle under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged the global airline industry.

In an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Virgin said it planned to keep operating flights despite handing over the keys to administrators.

- Oil bounces back -

US oil prices rebounded above zero a day after futures ended in negative territory for the first time as a coronavirus-triggered collapse in demand leaves the world awash in crude.

In afternoon trade Asian trade, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery was changing hands at $1.67 a barrel after closing at -$37.63 in New York.

- Hong Kong extends restrictions -

Hong Kong has reduced growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases to single digits in recent days, but city authorities say they are not taking any risks.

Chief executive Carrie Lam said social distancing measures and some business restrictions would continue for another two weeks until at least May 7.

"This is not the time to be complacent. If we relax, the good work we have done will be in vain," she told reporters.

- Indonesia bans post-Ramadan exodus-

A possible explosion in coronavirus cases when millions travel to hometowns and ancestral villages after Ramadan has forced Indonesia's president to issue a ban on the annual exodus.

Like Christmas or the Chinese Lunar New Year, the movement kicks off an extended holiday when many Indonesians celebrate Eid al-Fitr with their families to mark the end of Ramadan.

The government has called on residents of major cities, including the capital Jakarta, to stay put, and President Joko Widodo said he would ban any mass migration.

- South Korea K-league allows practice matches -

South Korean football clubs will be allowed to hold practice matches behind closed doors from Tuesday, the K-League said, with the season delayed by two months so far over the coronavirus epidemic.

South Korea endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease outside China, but appears to have brought it under control thanks to its extensive "trace, test and treat" programme.

- China FA proposes pay cuts -

The Chinese Football Association has proposed clubs slash wages of players and coaches by at least 30 percent to cut costs because of the coronavirus, state media said.

The People's Daily said that the CFA is now awaiting feedback from teams in the top-tier Chinese Super League and the two divisions below.

- Singapore shelves virus heroes after backlash -

A band of Singapore superheroes created to help in the coronavirus fight has been shelved after internet users criticised the campaign for being too light-hearted and for mocking Liverpool football club.

The "Virus Vanguard" featured comic-book characters including "Dr Disinfector", "Fake News Buster", and "Must Always Walk Alone (MAWA) Man" -- a jibe referring to the English Premier League side's anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone".