COVID UPDATE: Bangkok residents enjoy eased restrictions

May 3, 2020
Volunteers give haircuts to medical workers treating COVID-19 patients at Bangkok Metropolitan Administration General Hospital in Bangkok on Tuesday.
PHOTO: AP

THE Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

TOP OF THE HOUR

— Bangkok residents strolled in parks, booked haircuts and stocked up on beer as they enjoyed their first day of eased restrictions.

— Coronavirus tests in Kabul raise fears the virus may be spreading in Afghanistan faster than originally thought.

— Russia reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases, the first time the country's daily tally has reached five figures.

BANGKOK — Residents of the Thai capital Bangkok strolled in its parks, booked haircuts and stocked up on beer as they enjoyed their first day of eased restrictions that were imposed weeks ago to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The top perk in a city famous for its eateries may have been the reopening of restaurants. But it was not clear how many were actually serving seated customers again, since guidelines would make it hard for many to turn a profit.

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There was also a partial lifting on the sale of beer and other alcoholic drinks that will allow takeaway purchases, even while bars remain closed.

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Volunteers in protective suits spray disinfectant on passing vehicles to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in Kabul on Sunday.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan's public health ministry announced Sunday that 500 random coronavirus tests in the capital revealed more than 150 positive results, raising fears that the virus may be spreading faster than originally thought.

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Ministry spokesman Wahid Mayar called the results from Kabul "concerning" and said people must remain in their homes to slow the spread. He said the country's actual infection rate would likely increase as testing becomes more available.

Afghanistan has thus far taken close to 12,000 samples, of which more than 2,700 have been positive, and 85 people have died.

Kabul and most other cities are in lockdown.

Afghanistan has also received more than 250,000 refugees who have returned from Iran, the country hardest hit by coronavirus in the region. There are growing fears that the country's health care system, devastated by four decades of war, will be woefully unprepared for a major outbreak.

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A homeless person rests at an almost empty square in front of the Bolshoi Theater on Friday.

MOSCOW — Russia reported more than 10,000 new cases of coronavirus infections on Sunday, the first time the country's daily tally reached five figures.

More than half of the 10,633 new cases reported were in Moscow, where concern is rising about whether the capital's medical facilities will be overwhelmed.

Russia has recorded more than 134,000 coronavirus infections overall and 1,420 deaths.

AMMAN, Jordan — The U.N. children's agency on Sunday urged six Middle East countries to greenlight special polio and measles vaccination campaigns put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

UNICEF says the polio campaigns are on hold in Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Iraq, while measles vaccinations are suspended in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Djibouti.

UNICEF says nearly 10.5 million children under the age of five risk missing their polio vaccinations. Nearly 4.5 million children under 15 could miss their measles vaccinations.

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Routine vaccinations for other diseases like rubella and diphtheria are continuing, but special campaigns were put on hold because of overwhelmed health systems or governments wanting to avoid crowding at clinics.

UNICEF's Ted Chaiban says immunization is "absolutely critical" and possible if safety measures are taken.

The agency says the needed vaccines are available and that it's providing protective equipment.


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NEW DELHI — The Indian Air Force on Sunday conducted flypasts and showered flower petals on hospitals across different cities including the national capital of New Delhi as part of the Armed Forces' efforts to thank doctors, nurses and police personnel who have been at the forefront of the country's battle against the pandemic.

The coronavirus cases in India have neared the 40,000 mark as the country of 1.3 billion enters the 40th day into a nationwide lockdown to contain the virus. The country's official death toll has reached 1,301.

For almost six weeks, Indian officials have stringently enforced a nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. They have sealed state borders, halted transportation and shut airspace and most businesses.

The six-week lockdown, which was supposed to end Monday, has been extended another two weeks, with a few relaxations. The lockdown has slowed the spread of the virus, but has come at the enormous cost of upending lives and millions of lost jobs.

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BEIJING — China residents are flocking to tourist sites, many newly reopened, during a five-day holiday that runs through Tuesday.

Nearly 1.7 million people visited Beijing parks on the first two days of the holiday, and Shanghai's main tourist spots welcomed more than a million visitors, according to Chinese media reports.

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The surge comes after a relaxation of domestic travel restrictions as the coronavirus outbreak slows in mainland China and the government tries to reboot the economy. China reported just three new cases in the last two days.

The number of people traveling and visiting sites remains lower than an average year. Many sites are requiring advance reservations and limiting the number of daily visitors to 30% of capacity or less. Popular destinations such as the Forbidden City, the ancient imperial palace in Beijing, are sold out.

BEIJING — Chinese health authorities say two new coronavirus cases were confirmed Saturday, continuing a downward trend since the government took steps to cut the number of people arriving from overseas.

One new case was in the inland Shanxi province, west of Beijing, and the other was an imported one in Shanghai. China's official confirmed case count stands at 82,877. Most of the patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

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China reported no new deaths Saturday and has recorded just one in the past two weeks. The country's official death toll has reached 4,633.

The government has blocked virtually all foreigners from entering the country and sharply curtailed the number of international flights, making it difficult for Chinese citizens to return from overseas too.

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    Volunteers give haircuts to medical workers treating COVID-19 patients at Bangkok Metropolitan Administration General Hospital in Bangkok on Tuesday.
    PHOTO: AP
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