China reported 21 new cases of coronavirus
on Tuesday along with 13 new deaths caused by the illness Covid-19,
the country's National Health Commission said.
All but one of the new confirmed cases were brought into the country by citizens returning from abroad, marking a new low for locally transmitted virus cases in China since reporting started.
The single new case that was locally transmitted in the most recent figures was in Hubei province, where the outbreak first began in December. Imported cases surpassed domestic ones in China for the first time on Sunday, according to figures from the commission.
A total of 3,226 people died of Covid-19 in China and the coronavirus infected 80,881 people, of whom 68,679 have recovered.
As the respiratory disease continues to spread globally and kill thousands in Europe, official figures from Chinese health authorities point to containment of the virus within its source country.
In South Korea, the number of new coronavirus infections saw a slight uptick in figures released on Tuesday, with 84 new cases recorded the previous day. The data followed several days of a downward trend in new infections. Authorities cited a new rise in cases in the city of Seongnam, south of Seoul, as a reason for the increase.
For the first time, a higher number of new infections were reported in the capital Seoul and Gyeonggi province area than in the south-eastern metropolis of Daegu and surrounding area, where more than 80 per cent of all infections in South Korea have been reported so far. This brings the total of people who have tested positive for the virus in the country to 8,320, the figures from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. There have been 81 deaths from the Covid-19 disease in South Korea.
In Australia, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard was in self-isolation after close contact with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, just a week before she tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokeswoman for Gillard said on Tuesday. Gillard attended a function with Gregoire Trudeau in London earlier this month. "Ms Gillard is well and coming to the end of the recommended period for self-isolation, which she has been doing as a precautionary measure only. She is following current UK public health advice and so at this stage has not been tested," the spokeswoman told dpa.
Meanwhile, Hollywood actor Tom Hanks was released from a Gold Coast hospital on Tuesday after being quarantined with the coronavirus, though his wife Rita Wilson continues to remain in isolation for the time being, according to Australian broadcaster ABC.
In Tasmania, the state government announced a "public health emergency." It comes a day after Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory announced a state of emergency to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.
Also, on Tuesday, New South Wales, the state with the highest number of confirmed cases of Covid-19, announced a stimulus package worth 2.3 billion dollars (1.4 billion US dollars).
Meanwhile, the Australian High Court has suspended all hearings until June, but the decision will not affect the delivery of judgements, including for the appeal case of jailed Cardinal George Pell, who is trying to overturn his child sex abuse conviction. Pell's case was heard last week in the court, but the judges have reserved their decision until a later date. Australia has at least 440 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with five deaths.
In New Zealand, the government has unveiled a coronavirus rescue package to quell economic fears and financial hardship. At 12.1 billion New Zealand dollars (7.36 billion dollars), the package is worth 4 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, the government said in a statement. It is comparatively larger than relief packages announced by Australia, the UK and the US, the statement added. "The government is pulling out all the stops to protect the health of New Zealanders and the health of our economy," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Businesses will see an 8.7-billion-dollar injection into wage subsidies, tax relief, and leave support.
New Zealanders will receive 2.8 billion dollars in income support and to boost spending, and 500 million dollars has been put aside for a health fund. Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the package was not a one-off. "As we go through this crisis towards economic recovery the government will be constantly monitoring the situation and adjusting its response," he said. New Zealand currently has 11 confirmed Covid-19 cases and no deaths.
Cambodia's Health Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country doubled since the previous day from 12 to 24. Eleven of the 12 people who tested positive were among 79 Cambodian Muslims who recently attended an Islamic gathering in Malaysia, local news outlet VOD reported, citing the ministry. The other Cambodian who tested positive had recently travelled to Thailand.
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