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Asia Today: More controls used in Beijing as outbreak grows

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Residents line up to get tested at a coronavirus testing center set up outside a sports facility in Beijing, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. China reported several dozen more coronavirus infections Tuesday as it increased testing and lockdown measures in parts of the capital to control what appeared to be its largest outbreak in more than two months. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING – China increased testing and lockdown measures in parts of the capital Tuesday to control what appeared to be its largest coronavirus outbreak in more than two months.

The 40 new cases reported Tuesday included 27 in Beijing, bringing the city's total to 106 since Friday.

Many of the recent cases have been linked to Beijing’s Xinfadi wholesale market and authorities have been testing market workers, anyone who visited the market in the past two weeks and anyone who came into contact with either group.

Fresh meat and seafood in the city and elsewhere in China was also being inspected on the unlikely chance that was how the virus spread.

Residential communities around the market have been put under lockdown, along with the area around a second market, where three cases were confirmed. In all, 90,000 people are affected in the two neighborhoods in the city of 20 million.

Authorities are also barring residents of areas considered at high risk from leaving Beijing and those from such areas who have already left must report to local health bureaus as soon as possible. Taxis and car-hailing services have been banned from taking people out of the city and the number of passengers on buses, trains and subways will also be limited and all are required to wear masks.

The outbreak may also be disrupting plans to restart China Super League soccer matches as early as next month. Coaches and players for Beijing Guoan, the city’s top team have been tested and given a week off because their training camp is in the same district as the source of the latest outbreak, local media reported Tuesday.

China had relaxed most of its controls after the ruling Communist Party declared victory over the virus in March, but Beijing suspended Monday’s planned restart of some primary schools and reversed the relaxation of some social isolation measures.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— New Zealand is no longer free from the coronavirus after two women who flew from London to see a dying parent tested positive. The cases sparked a round of testing for anybody who might have been close to them, including their flight's fellow passengers and crew, staff members at a hotel and a family member. The women are isolated and have delayed the funeral of their parent until they have recovered. New Zealand has counted 22 deaths from COVID-19, and until Tuesday, everyone else known to be infected with the virus had recovered. In total, New Zealand has had just over 1,500 cases.

— India reported a daily spike of 10,667 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, as the worst-hit cities of Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai remain swamped by the rising infections. The Health Ministry also reported 380 new virus deaths. New Delhi is emerging a cause of concern for the federal government and is being criticized for its poor contact tracing and a lack hospital beds. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said any death due to COVID-19 was “tragic” and he warned people against stepping out without masks. Modi also emphasized the revival of economic activities, saying “green shoots have begun to be visible.”

— Philippine officials placed the central city of Cebu back under a strict lockdown and retained quarantine restrictions in the capital for another two weeks as coronavirus infections continue to spike alarmingly. President Rodrigo Duterte approved the moves Monday night, saying the virus campaign was not over. Many of the country's nearly 26,500 infections and 1,000 deaths have been recorded in the Manila region.

— Indonesia's government said it recorded more than 1,100 new virus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the country's total to more than 40,000. Nevertheless, the government said schools located in areas classified as ‘green zones’ will be allowed to open. Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim said that only 6% of students lived in such areas. He said students have right to continue home learning if their parents are concerned about potential transmissions of the virus at school.

— Bangladesh reported 53 new deaths from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the highest daily count since the pandemic began. Health officials said the country also recorded another 3,862 infections. There are renewed calls to lock down many areas in the capital, Dhaka, and elsewhere. Experts say the Bangladesh's healthcare facilities have already been overwhelmed by the country's more than 94,000 cases.

— South Korea has reported 34 new cases of COVID-19, half of them in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where health officials have been scrambling to stem transmissions. The figures by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday brought the country’s caseload to 12,155 infections, including 278 deaths. Thirteen of the new cases were linked to passengers arriving from abroad. Despite concerns over rising infections in the greater capital area, the Seoul government has so far resisted calls to reimpose stronger social distancing guidelines out of economic concerns.