Wenny Zulianti

Wenny Zulianti

23
March

Greece announced a lockdown on Sunday, restricting movement from Monday morning with only a few exceptions, to combat the spread of coronavirus.

"It is maybe the last step, one that must be taken promptly and not in vain," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address. "We have to protect the common good, our health."

Greece confirmed 94 new cases on Sunday, its largest single-day jump, taking its total to 624, with 15 deaths, up two.

Citing Italy, which reported almost 800 new deaths on Saturday, Mitsotakis said it was his duty to prevent such a tragedy hitting Greece.

"We must not get to the point where we will have to choose who lives and who dies," he said.

Only those going to or returning from work, shopping for food or medicines or visiting a doctor will be allowed onto the streets from Monday.

Starting on March 10, Greece acted fast to gradually close schools, gyms, cinemas, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, retail shops, shopping malls, museums and archaeological sites including the Acropolis, ahead of other governments in Europe.

Public gatherings were restricted to 10 people and authorities subsequently ordered hotels across Greece to close until April 30, stepping up measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory disease.

Greeks have for the most part heeded the government's call to stay home and practice social distancing. But some opted to flee to the islands or head to their countryside homes, defying official warnings of contagion risks.

This prompted the government to ban such trips on ferries and allow them only for island residents.

Restrict the frivolous few

Mitsotakis said he would not allow a frivolous few to undermine the safety of most.

"Staying at home is essentially the most profound demonstration of our collective duty," he said.

Effective from Monday, people venturing out of their homes to head to or return form work will have to carry a completed form detailing their residence, work address and working hours or otherwise face a 150 euro fine if stopped by the police.

All other allowed reasons to be on the streets - to visit a pharmacy, doctor, bank, food store or supermarket as well as to walk a pet and for physical exercise - will require a completed form or notifying the civil protection ministry via text messaging and mentioning the reason one has to be outside.

"We do not circulate outside for no reason. We stay at home," crisis management minister Nikos Hardalias told reporters.

23
March

Thailand's confirmed coronavirus cases rose by a third to nearly 600, the kingdom announced Sunday, as fears of a full-blown crisis take hold in a country largely spared until now.

Thailand's health ministry announced the spike was mainly in the capital, but warned residents of Bangkok not to leave and risk spreading the virus around the country.

"We would like you to stay home. Do not travel upcountry," said health ministry official Taweesin Visanuyothin.

Southeast Asia has so far been spared the worst of the pandemic that has swept the world, confining nearly one billion to their homes and killing more than 13,000.

But that could be about to change.

With a boxing stadium and night club among the likely transmission sites, Bangkok has now imposed tough restrictions. 

Virtually all public spaces have been shuttered, from shopping malls and beauty parlors to golf courses and swimming pools.

Residents packed out supermarkets over the weekend to stockpile food, fearing a full lockdown.

Transport links are also slowly being severed.

 

A frontier crossing point near northern city Chiang Rai saw thousands of Thai and Myanmar citizens rushing to get home before land border closures came into effect.

Bangkok Airways and Thai AirAsia have cancelled all international flights while Thai Lion Air has grounded its fleet entirely.

Yet elsewhere in the tropical tourist destination, life continued unabated with beaches in Pattaya and Phuket thronged with sun-seekers.

One doctor at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn hospital warned tougher measures were needed -- even calling for three weeks of martial law to force people to self-isolate.

The nation is "on the verge of a crisis" and heading for the Italian model, a doctor told AFP, adding hospitals are already straining under the pressure.

Meanwhile Vietnam on Saturday imposed a blanket ban on all foreigners entering the country, even though the number of confirmed cases still hovers below 100.

In under-developed Myanmar and Laos, there is increasing skepticism about claims of zero cases as fears grow for the their decrepit healthcare systems and fragile economies.

23
March

The Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto said, nine tons of medical assistance from various sides in China to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia  are scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on Monday (March 23) at around 9.30 a.m.

"Tomorrow morning, the airplane will land at Halim Perdanakusuma (Air Force Base) at 9.30 a.m.," Tjahjanto said here on Sunday.

The military cargo plane C-130B Hercules has arrived at the Rd Sadjad Air Force Base in Natuna on early Sunday in a ferry flight.

It arrived at Pudong Airport at 10.20 p.m. on Saturday (March 21) and left the airport at 00.40 a.m. local time on Sunday. The plane made a transit stop at Sanya Airport in Hainan Province before continuing its flight to Indonesia..

The health equipments would be handed over from TNI General Chief of Staff Lt.Gen Joni Supriyanto to Deputy Defense Minister Wahyu Sakti Trenggono upon its arrival at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base.

The medical assistance comprises disposable masks, N95 masks, protective clothing, goggles, rubber gloves, shoes covers, infra-red thermometer, surgical head covers, and some other equipments.

The medical assistance is the first phase of aid . China is expected to extend another 20 tons of medical aid for Indonesia.

Previously, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has written a letter to the Military Chief, requesting  to transport the medical assistance to the country.

The Ministry has also established a special team to handle the coronavirus.

18
March

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday declared a "human biosecurity emergency" and said the country's citizens should abandon all overseas travel because of the coronavirus epidemic.

The formal declaration gives the government the power to close off cities or regions, impose curfews and order people to quarantine, if deemed necessary to contain the spread of the virus.

The upgrade in official advice to an unprecedented "Level 4: Do not travel" to any country in the world, was accompanied by a ban on any non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

"Life is changing in Australia, as it is changing all around the world," Morrison said during a televised news conference. "Life is going to continue to change, as we deal with the global coronavirus. This is a once in a hundred year type event."

Australia has recorded around nearly 500 coronavirus infections and six deaths, a relatively small number compared to other countries, but officials are growing increasingly concerned about the prospect of an exponential rise in cases.

New South Wales, the country's most populous state, reported its biggest one-day surge in new cases on Wednesday, along with the country's latest death, an 86-year-old man who died in a Sydney hospital.

Morrison said the tighter ban on indoor social gatherings, down to 100 people from 500 people, did not include essential services like schools, public transport and shopping centers.

The Australian leader cited expert health guidance as the rationale for keeping schools open, a strategy that has been questioned by some experts. Several private schools have made the unilateral decision to close ahead of the upcoming Easter break.

Morrison reiterated the need for social distancing and good hand hygiene to curb the spread of the virus and announced restricted access to aged care homes.

Anybody who travels during a Level 4 ban is warned that the Australian government may not be able to assist if they get into trouble while abroad, according the government's official SmartTraveller website. It also recommends people already in a "do not travel" area consider leaving.

Shortly before Morrison's statement, the government unveiled a A$A$715 million ($430 million) aid package for airlines, including waivers on domestic air traffic control fees. Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd has suspended all international flights from March 30 to June 14, while Qantas Airways Ltd has cut its international capacity by 90%.

The widening restrictions on travel and domestic movement are expected to take a significant toll on Australia's tourism, retail and entertainment sectors.

Economists are predicting the country will slip into its first recession in nearly three decades in the first half of 2020, prompting a rapid jump in unemployment.

Its Unaustralian

However, while the epidemic is expected to crimp consumer spending in the long run, data from the official statistics agency released on Wednesday showed a 0.4% rise in retail sales in February as people bought up staples in preparation for shortages.

The country's major grocers, Coles Group Ltd and Woolworths Group Ltd have increased sales restrictions in response to the panic buying on goods including toilet paper, milk, meat, flour, rice, hand sanitizer, eggs and frozen vegetables.

They have also introduced exclusive shopping sessions for the elderly and the disabled early in the day, when stores have been restocked.

Morrison issued blunt advice on Wednesday that the hoarding was unnecessary and counter-productive.

"Stop doing it. It’s ridiculous. It’s un-Australian, and it must stop," he said.

Morrison has already flagged a stimulus package worth around A$17 billion (US$10.2 billion) and said on Wednesday the government was "considering quite extensive further economic measures" to dull the impact on the economy.

The Reserve Bank of Australia this week pumped liquidity into money markets and has promised further stimulus measures will be announced on Thursday.