Asia virus latest: India repatriation; Australia 'losing $2.5 bn a week'

Singapore (AFP) –


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

- India embarks on 'massive' repatriation -

India has embarked on a "massive" operation involving naval ships and aircraft to bring back some of the hundreds of thousands of nationals stuck abroad due to coronavirus restrictions, the government said.

India banned all incoming international flights in late March as it imposed one of the world's strictest virus lockdowns, leaving vast numbers of workers and students stranded.

A defence spokesman told AFP that two ships were steaming towards the Maldives and another to the United Arab Emirates -- home to a 3.3-million-strong Indian community, who make up around 30 percent of the Gulf state's population.

- Australia 'losing $2.5 bn a week' in shutdown -

Australia's economy is losing Aus$4 billion (US$2.5 billion) every week its virus shutdown continues, with GDP forecast to plunge 10 percent in the June quarter, according to official figures.

The data highlighted that the country's success in curbing the spread of COVID-19, with new daily cases slowing to single digits or zero across most regions, has come at a heavy economic cost.

- Stocks and oil rally as nations begin to reopen -

Equities and crude rallied as investors cheered a further easing of lockdowns in some countries, which offset a brewing row between the US and China that some fear could see them renew their trade war.

- Baseball restarts S. Korea's sports season -

South Korea's professional sport returned to action after the virus shutdown with the opening of a new baseball season, while football and golf will soon follow suit in a ray of hope for suspended competitions worldwide.

Friday will see the delayed start of football's K-League, and next week some of golf's leading women players will tee up in a domestic tournament as South Korea becomes a rare hotspot for live sport.

- Badminton restart 'difficult to predict', says BWF chief -

Badminton will be back in action "as soon as possible" after the coronavirus crisis, the sport's chief told AFP, adding that international travel restrictions were complicating the picture.

Thomas Lund, secretary general of the Badminton World Federation, said an announcement on a rejigged 2020 calendar was expected soon. But he cautioned that the situation remained fluid.

- HK penguins chill during pandemic -

Save for an absence of gawping crowds, life for the penguins of Hong Kong's Ocean Park has been much the same during the coronavirus pandemic -- but their carers have worked long shifts to keep the monochrome troupe healthy.

Piles of fresh snow have been laid out as some 100 penguins excitedly gather for the mid-morning feeding session.

Usually, this daily ritual at the South Pole Spectacular would be a major draw. But the park is still shut because of the virus outbreak.