Asia Today: Australian hot spot extends state of emergency

Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, Victoria state, is extending its state of emergency for another six months as its average of new coronavirus infections per day dipped to 95

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, Victoria state, on Wednesday extended its state of emergency for another six months as its weekly average of new infections dipped.

The Victorian Parliament’s upper chamber passed legislation by a 20-19 vote to extend the state of emergency, which enhances the government’s powers to impose pandemic restrictions.

The government had wanted a 12-month extension.

The state health department reported 90 new infections and six deaths in the latest 24-hour period. There were 70 new infections reported on Tuesday.

The latest seven-day average of new reported infections per day has dropped into double-digits — 95 — for the first time in weeks. The previous week’s average was 175 infections a day.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— India has reported 78,357 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising the country’s tally to more than 3.7 million reported cases since the pandemic began. The climb comes as the government eases pandemic restrictions to help the battered economy. The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 1,045 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 66,333. India has been reporting the most new daily cases in the world for more than three weeks. It has also increased its testing capacity — to nearly 100,000 per day — but experts say it is not enough.

— South Korea has seen a triple-digit daily jump in reported coronavirus infections for the 20th straight day, prompting authorities in recent days to impose tough social distancing rules. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday the 267 new cases took the country’s tally since the pandemic began to 20,449 reported infections with 326 deaths. South Korea has seen a rise in infections since early last month, many associated with churches, restaurants and schools. Authorities have recently restricted dining at restaurants and ordered the shutdown of churches, fitness centers and night establishments in the Seoul area as it struggles to track many of the new infections.

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