Asia virus latest: Seoul shuts bars and clubs, anti-lockdown clashes in Melbourne

Hong Kong (AFP) –


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

- Seoul bars and clubs shut after new cases -

South Korea's capital ordered the closure of all clubs and bars after a burst of new cases sparked fears of a second coronavirus wave, and President Moon Jae-in urged the public to remain vigilant.

More than 50 cases so far have been linked to a 29-year-old man who tested positive after spending time at five clubs and bars in Itaewon -- one of the city's busiest nightlife districts -- last weekend.

Gyeonggi province -- which surrounds Seoul with a population of around 12 million people -- also ordered more than 5,700 entertainment facilities to suspend operations for two weeks starting Sunday.

- Arrests at Melbourne anti-lockdown protest -

Ten people were arrested and a police officer injured at an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne, where demonstrators claimed coronavirus was a government-engineered conspiracy designed to control the population.

About 150 protesters rallied outside Victoria's state parliament to protest against a shutdown aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19, while also peddling conspiracy theories about the virus.

In scenes reminiscent of anti-lockdown protests in the United States, demonstrators carried placards reading "fight for your freedom and rights", and directed their ire at the founder of Microsoft, chanting "arrest Bill Gates".

- Sri Lanka to partially reopen from Monday -

Sri Lanka will partially reopen from Monday, ending a 52-day lockdown as the community spread of the coronavirus had been brought under control, the health minister said.

Pavithra Wanniarachchi said state and private companies would be allowed to open, as authorities seek to revive the island's tourism-dependant economy that has been battered by lockdown since March 20.

Public transport will remain closed for two more weeks, however.

Barbers and hairdressers will also be able to open from Monday, but they will not be allowed to offer facials, or trim beards and moustaches.

- Indian evacuees arrive home on navy ship -

A navy ship carrying almost 700 evacuees from the Maldives arrived in India as part of a massive effort to bring home hundreds of thousands of nationals stranded overseas due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Workers and students were unable to return home after India banned all incoming international flights in late March.

Another warship is expected to arrive in the Maldives Sunday to pick up more stranded Indians. Around 4,000 of the 27,000 Indians living in the Maldives have registered to be taken home.

- Malaysia extends inter-state travel ban -

Malaysia extended curbs to fight the spread of the coronavirus until June 9th. They had originally been due to come to an end this coming Tuesday.

The measures had already been substantially eased at the start of this month, with most businesses allowed to reopen, as the country's outbreak slowed.

But restrictions remain in place on schools and business that typically see large groups of people gathering, such as cinemas.

Travel between states in the Muslim-majority country is also banned, as authorities seek to avoid a mass exodus of people to their home towns and villages to mark the Eid holiday, which falls at the end of May after the holy month of Ramadan.