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How coronavirus is affecting countries across Asia

Latest updates from the Middle East to Japan.

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A woman walks past a large display promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Friday, March 13, 2020. U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the spreading coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A woman walks past a large display promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Friday, March 13, 2020. U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the spreading coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A woman walks past a large display promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Friday, March 13, 2020. U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the spreading coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

As coronavirus eases in China, other countries across Asia are just getting to grips with the outbreak.

Here are the latest updates on measures being taken to fight Covid-19 from the Middle East to Japan.

JERUSALEM

Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders in Jerusalem said religious services would continue in the Holy Land but moved to limit indoor gatherings after the Israeli Health Ministry said they should not exceed 100 people.

At the Western Wall in Jerusalem, authorities will limit entrance to an enclosed area and set up tents that accommodate up to 100 people. But the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which oversees the site, said there would be no restrictions on worship in the main plaza as it is a “wide, open space”.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

About 10,000 Muslim worshippers attended Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, according to Sheikh Omar Kiswani, the director of the mosque. Most prayed in outdoor courtyards, heeding the advice of officials who warned against crowding inside the mosques.

A 13-minute sermon was devoted to raising awareness on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

IRAN

State-run TV announced that Ali Akbar Velayati was quarantined at home after testing positive. He is a close adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the 80-year-old supreme leader of the Islamic Republic.

The outbreak has reached Tehran’s top officials, with its senior vice president, cabinet ministers, members of parliament, Revolutionary Guard members and Health Ministry officials among those infected.

Paramedics treat a patient  at a hospital in Tehran
Paramedics treat a patient at a hospital in Tehran (Mohammad Ghadamali/AP)

Iran has reported more than 11,000 cases and over 500 deaths, making it among the worst outbreaks worldwide.

JAPAN

Parliament enacted a law that would allow prime minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency if the outbreak worsens.

The law allows Mr Abe to order legally binding school closures, confiscate private property to build medical facilities, order shipments of emergency supplies and take other measures.

A cherry blossom festival in Matsuda
A cherry blossom festival in Matsuda (Jae C Hong/AP)

KUWAIT

All public prayers are cancelled until further notice.

EGYPT

Egypt has ordered all mosques to limit Friday prayers, including the weekly sermon, to no more than 15 minutes. The prayers usually last around an hour.

THAILAND

The health minister ignited controversy by warning about the possible spread of the virus from holidaying Europeans who wear dirty clothes and do not shower.

Tweets posted by the account linked to Anutin Charnvirakul lashed out at Western visitors for not wearing face masks to protect against the virus, and warned his fellow Thais they should be more careful in dealing with Westerners than with Asians.

The tweets, along with the entire account, disappeared from Twitter by Friday afternoon.

Wat Pho temple in Bangkok
Wat Pho temple in Bangkok (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

IRAQ

Iraq, which has reported more than 80 confirmed cases and eight deaths, has scrapped Friday prayers in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and in the country’s predominantly Kurdish region in the north.

LEBANON

Friday prayers have been temporarily suspended in all Shiite mosques. The country’s top Sunni authority said it is forbidden for anyone with a contagious disease to attend prayers and has urged elderly people and those with weakened immune systems to pray at home.

SOUTH KOREA

Seoul plans to limit the amount of information it releases about patients amid criticism that too much personal information was being shared.

The director of South Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Jung Eun-kyeong, said her agency is drafting a new guideline for local governments to prevent them from releasing details that are unnecessary for quarantine and prevention work.

Health authorities have been actively using personal information — including immigration, public transport, credit card and smartphone GPS data — to track patients and their contacts.

Workers disinfect a subway station in Seoul
Workers disinfect a subway station in Seoul(Lee Jin-man/AP)

Details about the places patients visited before testing positive are posted online and shared through smartphone alerts to inform people who may have been in their vicinity.

South Korea’s Human Rights Commission raised concerns about the release of the data, saying patients were being exposed to “criticism, ridicule and hate”.

DUBAI

A major horse race planned for March 28 will be held without spectators. The Dubai World Cup is the world’s richest purse for horse racing, with a 12 million dollar prize last year.

Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum announced a 400 million dollar stimulus plan for the city-state whose property market and tourism industry have been hard-hit by the virus.

QATAR

The country shut down all cinemas, theatres, museums, children’s play areas, gyms and wedding halls overnight.

CHINA

President Xi Jinping told the UN his nation wants to conduct joint research on drugs and vaccines and offer “as much assistance as it can” to countries where the virus is spreading.

State media said he told UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres that economic and daily life are gradually returning to normal in China thanks to “arduous endeavours” at prevention and control.

China, where the virus was first discovered, recorded just eight new infections on Friday.

The gates to the Forbidden City in Beijing
The gates to the Forbidden City in Beijing (Andy Wong/AP)

INDONESIA

The government is overseeing a campaign to clean 10,000 mosques as part of its bid to prevent the spread.

The cleaning campaign kicked off Friday at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta and was witnessed by President Joko Widodo and other officials.

Religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi called on officers at mosques nationwide to roll up the carpets and spray disinfectant.

SINGAPORE

Singapore has expanded border controls, banned cruise ships and limited mass gatherings.

From Sunday, travellers from Italy, Spain, France and Germany will not be allowed to enter. Singapore earlier banned those from South Korea, Iran and China.

The Health Ministry said on Friday that travellers who showed symptoms but tested negative for Covid-19 will have to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days.

All ticketed cultural, sports and entertainment events with 250 participants or more are to be deferred or cancelled.

BAHRAIN

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa released nearly 1,500 prisoners, around 900 of whom were pardoned. The move appeared aimed at preventing the virus from spreading inside detention facilities.

PA