Asia Today: Sri Lanka lifts coronavirus curfew

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's government on Sunday lifted a curfew imposed to contain the spreading of the coronavirus.

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The curfew was first imposed on March 20 and was in effect 24 hours a day for more than a month across the country.

The government began to ease the curfew after health authorities said the virus was under control in the Indian Ocean island nation. Since April, it was mostly confined to nighttime.

The curfew had been in effect from midnight to 4 a.m. since June 13.

Sri Lankan health officials say they have prevented a community spread of the coronavirus and new patients belong to two known clusters.

The country has reported 2,034 cases, including 11 deaths.

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In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea has confirmed 62 additional cases of the coronavirus over a 24-hour period, as the country continues to grapple with new clusters after easing social distancing rules. The additional cases reported Sunday took the total to 12,715 with 282 deaths. Officials said 40 of the new cases were from domestic infections, while the other 22 came from overseas. Twenty-six of the 40 domestic cases were detected in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area. South Korea has been struggling to suppress a spike in new cases since it eased up on its rigid social distancing rules in early May. The new cases have been linked to nightclubs, church services, a huge e-commerce warehouse and low-income workers.

— China reported 17 new cases, all but three of them from domestic transmission in Beijing, which has seen a recent spike in coronavirus infections. But authorities in the capital say a campaign to conduct tests on employees at hair and beauty salons across the city has found no positive cases so far, in a further sign that the recent outbreak has been largely brought under control. No new deaths were reported Sunday, leaving China’s reported total at 4,634 among 83,500 confirmed cases. Tens of millions of Chinese traveled during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival that ended Saturday, but anti-crowding measures were in force nationwide. Tourist sites were required to cap visitor numbers at 30% of capacity.

— Australia’s Victoria state has stepped up efforts to contain a spike in coronavirus cases by ordering mandatory testing of all travelers returning from overseas. The state government said Sunday that travelers in mandatory quarantine will be tested twice — on the third and 11th days of their 14-day isolation. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said those who refuse to comply will be required to remain in quarantine for a further 10 days to ensure they pose no risk to the wider community. A total of 49 new cases of the coronavirus were recorded in Victoria on Sunday, continuing a sharp rise in recent days. Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, on Sunday reported three new cases while Western Australia reported just one.

— Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India must focus on bolstering the economy as it exits the lockdown phase, even as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb. On Sunday, India reported additional 19,906 confirmed cases, taking the total to 528,859 with 16,095 deaths. Modi told a radio address that during the post-lockdown period, Indians have to stay more vigilant compared to the lockdown and only alertness can save them from the coronavirus. He again urged people to wear a mask and observe social distancing norms and other precautions, or else would be putting others at risk, especially the elderly and children at home.

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