Asia latest: South Korea using mobile data on cluster; sports eye restart

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Hong Kong (AFP)

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

- South Korea uses mobile data on new cluster -

South Korean authorities said they were using mobile phone data to trace Seoul nightclub visitors as they tackle a new coronavirus cluster, promising anonymity to those being tested due to the stigma surrounding homosexuality.

A spike of new cases, driven by the cluster in venues in Seoul's Itaewon district -- including several gay clubs -- forced authorities to delay this week's planned re-opening of schools.

Seoul, as well as neighbouring Gyeonggi province and the nearby city of Incheon and the southern city of Daegu, has ordered the closure of all clubs and bars.

- Tentative restart for India trains -

India's enormous railway network, which normally carries over 20 million people daily on 20,000 trains, is grinding back to life with 30 trains laid on for passengers.

The number of cases continues to rise fast, however, with more than 3,600 new infections recorded on Monday, down slightly from Sunday's record of more than 4,000.

- New Zealand says virus will not stop poll -

New Zealand's Electoral Commission has unveiled measures designed to allow elections to proceed as planned in September despite the coronavirus threat.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the September 19 election date in January, before the global scale of the contagion was apparent, and has repeatedly said she does not plan to move it.

- China factory prices plunge -

China's factory-gate prices fell to a four-year low, official data showed, with firms suffering from the economic devastation unleashed by the coronavirus on the global economy.

The producer price index -- which reflects what factories charge wholesalers -- dropped again, fuelling concern among analysts about the post-pandemic recovery in the world's second-largest economy.

- China cuts Australian beef imports -

China suspended imports from four major Australian beef suppliers just weeks after Beijing's ambassador warned of a possible consumer boycott in retaliation for Canberra's push to probe the origins of the coronavirus.

Analysts said the move raised concerns of a possible standoff between Australia and its most important trading partner that could spill over into other crucial sectors as it struggles to navigate the disease-induced economic crisis.

- Oz rugby, Japan baseball eye restarts -

A competition between Australia's four Super Rugby teams could be launched in early July as coronavirus restrictions ease, with the axed Western Force and Japan's Sunwolves as possible participants, officials revealed.

Meanwhile, Japan's hugely popular baseball league could start as soon as June, according to the sport's commissioner.

- Singapore shuts terminal -

International travel hub Singapore suspended operations at the second of its four airport terminals after the pandemic saw visitor numbers plunge.

Changi Airport Group, the airport operator, said it will temporarily shut down Terminal 4 from May 16 because of the small number of passengers.

- Philippines eases lockdown -

The Philippines will begin easing two months of quarantine to rekindle its bruised economy, but the capital is to remain under tight restrictions.

Shopping malls, scaled-down public transport and more business open from Saturday, however strict stay-at-home orders will still be in effect until the end of May for Manila.

- Totoro tutorial -

The Japanese artist behind the beloved anime character Totoro has given a short online tutorial on how to draw the amiably rotund creature.

Toshio Suzuki, former president of the Tokyo-based Studio Ghibli, contributed the short video to a website intended to support children stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

burs-je/fox