MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, Victoria state, on Wednesday extended its state of emergency for another six months as its weekly average of new infections dipped.
The Victorian Parliament’s upper chamber passed legislation by a 20-19 vote to extend the state of emergency, which enhances the government’s powers to impose pandemic restrictions.
The government had wanted a 12-month extension.
The state health department reported 90 new infections and six deaths in the latest 24-hour period. There were 70 new infections reported on Tuesday.
The latest seven-day average of new reported infections per day has dropped into double-digits — 95 — for the first time in weeks. The previous week’s average was 175 infections a day.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— India has reported 78,357 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising the country’s tally to more than 3.7 million reported cases since the pandemic began. The climb comes as the government eases pandemic restrictions to help the battered economy. The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 1,045 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 66,333. India has been reporting the most new daily cases in the world for more than three weeks. It has also increased its testing capacity — to nearly 100,000 per day — but experts say it is not enough.
— South Korea has seen a triple-digit daily jump in reported coronavirus infections for the 20th straight day, prompting authorities in recent days to impose tough social distancing rules. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday the 267 new cases took the country’s tally since the pandemic began to 20,449 reported infections with 326 deaths. South Korea has seen a rise in infections since early last month, many associated with churches, restaurants and schools. Authorities have recently restricted dining at restaurants and ordered the shutdown of churches, fitness centers and night establishments in the Seoul area as it struggles to track many of the new infections.
— Hong Kong will further relax social distancing measures on Friday, allowing gyms and massage parlors to reopen and extending dining-in hours at restaurants as its daily new coronavirus cases dwindle to single digits. Tough restrictions were imposed in July when a new wave of infections hit the territory, shuttering such businesses and limiting public gatherings to two people. Since then, daily infections have steadily decreased from a peak of over 100 in July to eight on Wednesday, the lowest number in two months. Officials began easing the measures last week, allowing cinemas and beauty salons to reopen with social distancing measures in place. While gyms can operate from Friday, customers must wear masks while exercising, and gym classes will be restricted to four people. Restaurants will be allowed to serve customers until 10 p.m, an hour later than before. Swimming pools, bars and karaoke lounges must remain closed.
— Nepal began limited commercial flights on Tuesday after months of suspension to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Malaysia’s Malindo Airlines flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu while a Nepal Airlines flight arrived from Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon. Nepal’s government is limiting flights to about two a day. The flights are only for Nepalese nationals or foreign diplomats based in the country. Only repatriation flights had been allowed by authorities since Nepal first went into lockdown in March. The country has 41,649 confirmed cases and 251 deaths from the coronavirus.