MELBOURNE – Authorities in Sri Lanka on Saturday closed at least two fishery harbors and many stalls after a surge of 609 cases linked to the country's main fish market.
The government also widened the curfew in parts of Colombo, the capital. At least 11 villages were isolated in densely populated Western province, which includes Colombo.
Health authorities on Wednesday temporarily closed the fish market on Colombo's outskirts after 49 traders tested positive for the coronavirus. By Saturday, the number of cases went up to 609.
Hundreds of traders and fishermen are being tested.
Authorities say the outbreak is related to a cluster in a garment factory early this month, which has grown to 3,426 cases, almost half the country's total of 6,287. It broke a two-month lull in infections.
Several thousand people have been asked to quarantine at home. Schools and key public offices are closed, gatherings banned and restrictions imposed on public transport.
Sri Lanka has had 14 deaths from the coronavirus.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— All staff and students from two schools in northeast Melbourne have been told to immediately get tested for COVID-19 after the emergence of seven new cases on Saturday. There were no deaths. Both schools will be closed for the next two weeks. Already about 800 residents in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have been isolating because of the school outbreak. Warnings have been circulated to workers, including taxi drivers, who might have visited the area. The state’s death toll remained at 817 on Saturday and the national figure at 905, with only one death in the past week. The updated figures Saturday followed the city’s most significant anti-lockdown protest on Friday. A “Freedom Day” rally began mid-afternoon and continued for several hours, erupting at times in violent scuffles between police and demonstrators, many of whom did not wear masks. Police arrested 16 people and handed out dozens of fines. Three police officers were injured and one was taken to a hospital.
— South Korea reported 77 new cases of the coronavirus, mostly from the greater capital area, where officials are scrambling to stem transmissions at hospitals and nursing homes. Figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the country’s caseload to 25,775, including 457 deaths. Among the 1,484 active cases, 60 are in serious condition. Fifty-nine of the new cases were reported from densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak since summer. Hundreds of cases have been linked to a handful of hospitals and nursing homes. Officials are testing thousands of medical workers to stem infections. Eleven of the new cases were tied to international arrivals, including passengers from the United States, the Philippines and India.
— India reported 53,370 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall tally past 7.8. million. The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 650 deaths, driving the country’s toll to 117,956. The highest number of new infections is coming from Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka states. They're also reporting the maximum number of daily recoveries. Last month, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but since then daily infections have fallen by about half and deaths by about a third, even as testing has remained consistent. India is still adding more than 50,000 cases a day as the country prepares for a festival season when large crowds gather. Health officials have warned about the potential for the virus to spread.
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