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Asia Today: Thailand welcomes foreigners and opens schools


BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand has entered a fifth phase of loosening COVID-19 restrictions, allowing the reopening of high-risk schools and entertainment venues such as pubs and massage parlors that have been closed since mid-March.

It also allows foreign visitors on a controlled basis, limiting entry to people with existing family or professional ties to the country, students, technical experts for business, investors and specially invited VIPs. Scheduled passenger flights to Thailand were suspended in early April.

The number of foreign visitors allowed into the country daily is limited to 200, and they are expected to travel on repatriation flights to bring Thai citizens home. All returnees, foreign and Thai, will be subject to varying degrees of quarantine.

All confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past five weeks have been repatriated from Thailand rather than cases of local transmission, which has given the government the confidence to lift the restrictions. However, he extended the state of emergency until July, although critics accuse him of being used to quell political dissent.

Reopened establishments still have to maintain social distancing rules. A contact search application already used in shopping malls is also mandatory for reopened entertainment venues, including “soapy” massage parlors, which are often illegal fronts for sexual services.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

– Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea reopened on Wednesday after being closed for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, with hundreds of visitors cheering when the door opened. The two parks near Tokyo have new guidelines, including limiting the number of entrants into three teams to maintain social distance. No handshake, hug or photo taken with Mickey Mouse and other characters is allowed. Although the characters welcome guests from afar, their parades and shows have been suspended to avoid the crowds. Participants are invited to have their temperature checked at the door, to disinfect their hands and to wear masks in the park.

– The Philippines has maintained a strict lockdown in the city center, President Rodrigo Duterte described as a new coronavirus hotspot, while the capital and the rest of the country have been placed in lighter quarantines. These measures further prolong blockages and quarantines by three months in the country which has counted more than 37,500 people infected, of which 1,266 have died. Duterte blamed the city of Cebu, which will remain in receivership until July 15, for numerous rule violations that led to spikes in infection. “Cebu is now the COVID hot spot. Why? Many of you did not follow. So don’t get mad at me, ”he said.

– India has reported 18,653 new cases of coronavirus and 507 deaths in the past 24 hours, June being the worst month since the pandemic hit the country in late January. The total number of cases in India reached 585,493 on Wednesday, of which more than 400,000 were reported in June alone. The Indian Ministry of Health has said that 17,400 people have died. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over neglect in maintaining social distance and wearing masks.

– South Korea plans to list religious establishments with discos, hostess bars and karaoke rooms as “high risk” locations for the spread of COVID-19 after a series of transmissions related to church gatherings. Chinese Premier Chung Sye-kyun said Wednesday that more than 40 percent of newly confirmed infections in the country in the past three days were linked to places of worship. He urged people to abstain from religious gatherings and criticized churches and other establishments for failing to use appropriate preventive measures. High risk establishments are advised to close or otherwise apply anti-virus measures and to register visitors with smartphone QR codes so that virus carriers can be tracked.

– China reported on Wednesday only three new cases, all in the capital Beijing, where an epidemic last month seems to have run its course amid intense testing and follow-up of cases. No new deaths have been reported, leaving 4,634 of 83,534 cases of COVID-19 recorded since the virus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in China at the end of the year. last. With 328 cases reported since June 11, Beijing has reinstated certain preventive measures, suspended schooling for schoolchildren and carried out 8.3 million tests for the virus among the city’s more than 20 million inhabitants.

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