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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of May 17 to May 23, China reports zero new cases

Malaysian PM under self-quarantine; Singapore case count exceeds 30,000

Children wearing protective face masks play near the entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing on May 22.    © Reuters

The Nikkei Asian Review is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Follow the latest updates.

Global cases have reached 5,101,400, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The worldwide death toll has hit 332,876.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:

(Source photo by AP) 

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):

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UPDATES CLOSED

Saturday, May 23

11:50 a.m. China's National Health Commission says the country reported no new cases of the new coronavirus on Friday, marking the first day of zero confirmed cases since the outbreak started late last year. But the commission said that there were two new suspected cases in Shanghai and Jilin.

11:42 a.m. Car rental firm Hertz Global Holdings Inc. files for bankruptcy protection after its business all but vanished during the coronavirus pandemic and talks with creditors failed to result in needed relief, according to Reuters.

6:27 a.m. Britain will introduce a quarantine for travelers arriving from abroad from June 8, reports Reuters. All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will have to self-isolate for 14 days and provide details of where they will be staying under the plans.

6:26 a.m. A Japanese company moves up plans to mass-produce an ultraviolet lamp developed with Columbia University that it says renders viruses harmless without damaging people's eyes or skin.

4:40 a.m. As many countries slowly begin to reopen their economy, companies and customers are being asked to accept a new normal that often involves cumbersome procedures and rules designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus while resuming economic activity.

2:02 a.m. China is expected to churn out 102.5 billion face masks this year, 20.5 times last year's output.

12:48 a.m. South America has become a new epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization's emergencies chief, Mike Ryan, is quoted as saying by Reuters.

Friday, May 22

10:48 p.m. Japan confirms 23 new cases of COVID-19 as of 10 p.m., bringing the total to 16,333.

9:29 p.m. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin goes under self-quarantine for 14 days, his office says in a statement after an official at a meeting with him tests positive for COVID-19. Muhyiddin has tested negative.

6:56 p.m. The Japanese government will provide 12 trillion yen ($111.62 billion) in aid to companies to help them cope with the effects of the new coronavirus, Nikkei has learned.

6:26 p.m. Indonesia reports 634 new coronavirus cases Friday, compared with 973 on Thursday, and 48 deaths, bringing its total case count to 20,796, including 1,326 deaths.

5:50 p.m. Taiwan's unemployment rate reaches 4.1% in April, its highest point since December 2013, as the pandemic continues to take a toll on the export-dependent economy.

Medical workers prepare to perform a nose swab on a migrant worker at a dormitory in Singapore.   © Reuters

4:50 p.m. Singapore tops 30,000 cases as infections among migrant workers remain high. The 614 new cases for the day brings the cumulative total to 30,426.

4:40 p.m. Tokyo reports three new infections, the capital's fewest since Japan declared a state of emergency early last month.

4:30 p.m. Russia reports 150 fatalities in the past 24 hours, a record daily rise, taking the country's death toll to 3,249. The country confirmed 8,894 new cases, bringing total infections to 326,448.

3:50 p.m. Thailand will maintain its state of emergency until the end of June, its COVID-19 task force says, in an effort to keep infections under control as the government prepares to further ease restrictions. The country reported no new coronavirus infections or deaths for the past 24 hours.

3:30 p.m. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says the capital will gradually relax recommendations for business and social restrictions if the Japanese government lifts the state of emergency on Monday. Tokyo plans a three-phase easing, with each phase lasting two weeks. In Phase 1, libraries, museums and other public facilities will reopen. In Phase 2, malls and prep schools will reopen. In Phase 3, internet cafes and game centers will get the go-ahead. Karaoke parlors and gyms will have to wait until after Phase 3.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike speaks to reporters at a press conference on May 22.

2:27 p.m. The Reserve Bank of India cuts its benchmark interest rate 40 basis points to 4%, as the novel coronavirus pandemic severely dents the country's economy.

2:00 p.m. International Olympic Committee senior official John Coates said October will be a critical period for assessing whether the Japanese capital can host the postponed Tokyo Games next year, The Australian newspaper reports. Coates, who heads the IOC's coordination commission, said the games might not go ahead in July 2021, even with the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

1:00 p.m. India records the highest single-day spike with 6,088 cases, bringing the country total to 118,447. The count includes 3,583 deaths, up 148 over the last 24 hours.

12:10 p.m. Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, says coronavirus restrictions will be eased to allow cafes and restaurants to host up to 50 customers from June 1.

11:00 a.m. Japan's health minister says the country will begin checking people to see if they have had the virus, with 10,000 antibody tests to be conducted in Tokyo, Osaka and Miyagi prefectures starting early next month. As the government prepares to reopen the economy and greenlight social activities, the ministry will randomly select about 3,000 people in each area and compare the results. Tokyo and Osaka have had large clusters, while Miyagi has had few infections.

10:40 a.m. South Korea confirms 20 new cases, up from 12 a day ago. Total infections reach 11,142 with 264 deaths.

10:26 a.m. China will not set a 2020 GDP growth target and pledges to step up spending and financing, according to Premier Li Keqiang's work report released at the start of the annual parliamentary meeting.

10:08 a.m. The Bank of Japan launches a program to support small businesses, moving in step with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government to keep the sector alive amid the coronavirus-sparked economic crisis.

9:40 a.m. Japan's core consumer prices, a leading indicator of nationwide inflation, dropped 0.2% in April from a year earlier, the government announces. The data highlights the challenge the Bank of Japan faces amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to achieve its elusive 2% inflation target.

9:10 a.m. Fitch Ratings downgrades its outlook on Australia's coveted 'AAA' rating to "negative" from "stable", citing the heavy blow to the economy and public finances from the COVID-19 pandemic. Though affirming the country's prized rating, the agency says a downgrade is possible in the absence of a sufficient post-coronavirus fiscal consolidation strategy.

Doctors demand salary payment in front of the Ministry of Health, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Brasilia, Brazil,  on May 21. The COVID-19 death toll in the country has topped 20,000.   © Reuters

8:30 a.m. Brazil registers a record of 1,188 daily coronavirus deaths on Thursday with the death toll topping 20,000. The country has 310,087 confirmed cases, approaching Russia, currently the world's No. 2 COVID-19 hot spot behind the U.S.

7:34 a.m. The U.S. secures almost a third of the first 1 billion doses planned for AstraZeneca's experimental COVID-19 vaccine by pledging up to $1.2 billion, reports Reuters.

6:56 a.m. Smartphone location data from Google shows that mobility in 17 major economies stood at 64% of the pre-pandemic baseline as of May 13.

5:40 a.m. Hewlett Packard Enterprise unveils a plan to cut costs by at least $1 billion by 2022 and says it will reduce the base salary of its CEO by 25%, in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

1:30 a.m. Britain will buy 10 million coronavirus antibody tests from Roche and Abbott and will roll them out to health workers starting next week, health minister Matt Hancock says. The antibody tests show who has been infected, although it is not yet clear whether the presence of antibodies to the new coronavirus confers permanent immunity.

12:41 a.m. Japan's AGC will help produce a coronavirus DNA vaccine, with clinical trials expected to start as early as this summer.

Thursday, May 21

7:23 p.m. Japan is preparing to gradually ease entry restrictions on foreign visitors, with business travelers and researchers being the first to get the green light, the Nikkei learned.

A market in Bogor, near the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, on May 18.   © Antara Foto/Reuters

6:04 p.m. Indonesia reports its biggest daily rise so far with 973 cases. The total has now topped the 20,000 mark with 20,162 cases including 1,278 deaths.

5:30 p.m. British health care workers will on Thursday begin taking part in a University of Oxford-led international trial of two anti-malarial drugs to see if they can prevent COVID-19, including one U.S. President Donald Trump says he has been taking.

4:30 p.m. Global infections exceed 5 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Total confirmed cases stand at 5,000,561, with the death toll at 328,191. The U.S. leads both counts.

4:00 p.m. AstraZeneca says it has made its first agreements to supply at least 400 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford. The British drugmaker says it has sourced total capacity for 1 billion doses through 2020 and into 2021, and continues to increase capacity. There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.

3:30 p.m. The Japan Sports Agency informs boards of education that students do not need to wear masks as a coronavirus precaution during physical education classes. Earlier, the Oita Prefecture board of education requested that masks be worn, only to withdraw the notice after deaths of junior high school students wearing masks were reported in China.

1:24 p.m. India's confirmed cases surge to 112,359, with 5,609 more infections reported over the past 24 hours, close to the nation's biggest single-day jump of 5,611, recorded on Wednesday. The overall total includes 3,435 deaths, up 132 since Wednesday morning, according to the health ministry's latest update.

IOC President Thomas Bach in March. He has now told the BBC that the Tokyo Olympics, rescheduled for 2021, cannot be pushed back again.   © Reuters

1:00 p.m. International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach says the Tokyo Games would have to be scrapped if the virus prevents the event from being held next year, too. "Quite frankly," he told the BBC, "I have some understanding for this, because you can't forever employ 3,000 or 5,000 people in an Organizing Committee."

11:33 a.m. Japan will lift the state of emergency in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo on Thursday while Tokyo and four other prefectures, including Hokkaido, will remain as is, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, noting that the expert advisory panel accepted the government proposal.

11:00 a.m. Japan's exports in April fell the most since the 2009 global financial crisis with the coronavirus pandemic taking a heavy toll on external demand, Ministry of Finance data shows. Exports fell 21.9% year on year in April as U.S.-bound shipments fell 37.8% with car exports there plunging 65.8%.

10:30 a.m. China reports 31 new asymptomatic cases from the previous day, up from 16 24 hours earlier. The nation where the virus first broke out also reports two new symptomatic cases from the previous day, down from five 24 hours earlier. One of these was a local transmission in Shanghai and the other a so-called imported case.

10:26 a.m. South Korea confirms 12 new cases, down from 32 a day ago. Total infections reach 11,122 with 264 deaths.

9:10 a.m. Airline Lufthansa said on Thursday it is in advanced talks with the German government's economic stabilization fund over a rescue deal worth up to 9 billion euros ($9.9 billion), including the state taking a 20% stake in the company. The airline has been in talks with the government for weeks over aid to help it weather the coronavirus pandemic.

7:00 a.m. Brazil registered 888 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, with nearly 20,000 new infections -- a record -- taking the total to 291,579, the Health Ministry says.

5:16 a.m. A Chinese researcher from the Wuhan laboratory where U.S. officials suggested the virus leaked from remains silent about the matter despite reports that she fled to France with her family and 1,000 pages of confidential research.

1:00 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump says he may again host the G-7 summit in or near Washington, after earlier canceling the in-person meeting amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Leaders at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, in August 2019.   © Reuters

12:34 a.m. A Japanese team testing the flu drug Avigan as a treatment for the new coronavirus says more time is needed to determine its effectiveness, while the government stands by a goal of approving the medication's use this month.

Wednesday, May 20

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open higher on expectations for an economic recovery as states begin resuming economic activity, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading up over 300 points at around 24,514.

9:30 p.m. Japan will lift the state of emergency in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures on Thursday in a move expected to quickly normalize business in the western part of the country, Nikkei learns.

7:02 p.m. Japanese social media platform Line will launch a telemedicine business this summer to meet growing demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

6:50 p.m. Cambodia has lifted a ban on the entry of visitors from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the U.S. that had been put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

5:55 p.m. Indonesia announces 693 new coronavirus cases, a new daily high, bringing the total to 19,189 with 1,242 deaths.

4:13 p.m. Thailand's central bank eases monetary policy for the third time this year as it tries boost the economy.

3:39 p.m. The pandemic will spur long-term growth in PCs and data centers, Lenovo Group says, as the world's largest maker of notebook computers unveils a drop in quarterly profit after supply chain disruptions.

Osaka's Riseisha High School won last summer's national high school baseball championship. (Photo by Maho Obata)

3:31 p.m. The Japan High School Baseball Federation cancels this summer's national tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the nation's largest amateur sporting event will not be held.

1:39 p.m. India sees its biggest single-day spike with 5,611 new infections, up from 4,970 the previous day, taking the country's total to 106,750. The count includes 3,303 deaths, up 140 since Tuesday morning.

1:14 p.m. Having already lifted the state of emergency in much of the country, Japan on Thursday is to examine whether it should ease coronavirus-related restrictions in the remaining regions, including Tokyo.

12:39 p.m. Shares in Fujifilm Holdings fall nearly 5% following reports of clinical trials showing no clear evidence of its flu drug Avigan being effective in treating coronavirus patients.

12:23 p.m. Domestic car sales in Thailand shrank for an 11th straight month in April, tumbling 65.02% from a year earlier to 30,109 vehicles, as the outbreak dampened demand, the Federation of Thai Industries says. Sales in March slumped 41.74% from a year earlier.

11:41 a.m. Marriott International expects East Asia to lead the recovery from the coronavirus crisis, but a full rebound will not happen until next year, when millennials start traveling again, a regional executive with the hotel operator tells the Nikkei Asian Review.

A saleswoman wearing a protective face mask promotes car sales at a luxury mall in Bangkok in January.   © AP

11:00 a.m. Thailand's major telecom operators rev up 5G deployment as the outbreak subsides, making Thailand the first ASEAN member to commercialize 5G services.

10:20 a.m. South Korea confirms 32 new cases, up from 13 a day ago. Total infections reach 11,110 with 263 deaths. The country reopens schools for Grade 12 students, who are preparing for graduation and university entrance exams.

9:38 a.m. China records five new cases, down from the six reported 24 hours earlier. Four of the new cases are local transmissions; the other infection is of an overseas traveler. China's total number of infections stands at 82,965. It has suffered 4,634 fatalities.

9:16 a.m. Mexico registers 2,713 new cases, its biggest daily increase, bringing the country's overall tally to 54,346. Authorities also report 334 fatalities, only the second time that the daily death toll has exceeded 300. The country has counted a total of 5,666 deaths from the virus.

9:10 a.m. The World Health Organization adopts a resolution promising international cooperation to provide vaccines at affordable prices by limiting patents. The nonbinding resolution was proposed by members including Japan and the European Union but not the U.S.

8:10 a.m. Brazil reports a daily record of 1,179 deaths. Its total fatalities stand at 17,971. The country has confirmed 271,628 infections. The highest daily toll had been 881 deaths on May 12. Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro says his Health Ministry will expand a recommendation to treat the disease with chloroquine, days after the health minister quit under pressure to approve the recommendation.

6:26 a.m. Results from a small, early-stage safety trial testing Moderna's experimental COVID-19 vaccine do not provide the critical data needed to assess its effectiveness, health-focused Stat News reports, citing experts.

4:27 a.m. McDonald's workers in Chicago file a class-action lawsuit against the burger chain, saying it has not adopted government coronavirus guidelines. In California, workers at three McDonald's sites file for action with state regulators, alleging unsafe conditions.

12:52 a.m. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to extend a ban on nonessential travel between the two nations by another 30 days, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

Tuesday, May 19

10:00 p.m. Singapore businesses including finance, wholesale trade and semiconductor manufacturing will be allowed to restart on-site operations June 2, the government says.

9:48 p.m. A European Union-sponsored resolution on the need to investigate the global response to the coronavirus pandemic has won endorsement at the World Health Organization's annual ministerial meeting.

9:42 p.m. Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan announces that the Indonesian capital will extend its partial lockdown, due to expire on Thursday, for another two weeks to June 4. Jakarta makes up a third of Indonesia's 18,496 cases and 40% of its 1,221 deaths.

8:15 p.m. The U.S., the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases, will begin shipping 200 ventilators this week to Russia, which has the second-most infections, Reuters reports.

6:26 p.m. Hong Kong's unemployment rate rose to 5.2% in the February to April period, up from 4.2% for the previous three months, reaching its highest point in more than a decade. The territory will extend social distancing measures until June 4, meaning annual commemorations for those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing will not be held for the first time in 31 years.

A masked man looks out over Victoria Harbour from an empty promenade in February.   © Getty Images

6:00 p.m. Indonesia reports 486 new cases, slightly fewer than the 496 of a day earlier, bringing its total to 18,496 with 1,221 deaths. The archipelago has taken a significant hit from the virus, with the country's growth rate decelerating to its slowest pace since 2001 in the three months ended in March. However, Bank Indonesia kept its benchmark interest rate on hold at its May monetary policy meeting.

5:30 p.m. China accuses the U.S of trying to shift the blame for Washington's own mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, responding to President Donald Trump's letter threatening to halt funding to the World Health Organization. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters the U.S. is trying to smear China and miscalculated by trying to use China to avoid its own responsibility.

5:00 p.m. Tokyo confirms five new cases, sources tell Nikkei, matching the lowest daily increase since the Japanese government declared a state of emergency in early April.

4:50 p.m. Russia says 9,263 new cases have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, pushing the nation's total to 299,941. Overnight, 115 people died, bringing Russia's fatalities to 2,837.

3:30 p.m. The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Britain soared by 856,500 to its highest level since 1996 in April. Last month was the first full month of the country's coronavirus lockdown and the rise in claimants was the biggest-ever monthly increase. A total of 2.097 million people are on jobless benefits, up 69% compared with March.

3:20 p.m. Japanese stocks followed Wall Street upward, and Asian peers and hit two-and-a-half-month highs Tuesday, as encouraging early-stage data for a potential coronavirus vaccine boosted hopes for a swift reopening of the global economy. The benchmark Nikkei average gained 1.5% to 20,433.45, its highest close since March 6.

2:50 p.m. Thailand's government says that loss-making national flag carrier Thai Airways International will be restructured in bankruptcy court, the latest sign of how the coronavirus pandemic has swept through the airline industry.

India now has more confirmed coronavirus infections than China, where the disease originated.   © Reuters

1:30 p.m. Coronavirus cases in India top 100,000 on Tuesday, with the country reporting 4,970 new cases over the past 24 hours. India now has more confirmed infections (101,139) than China. Deaths from the virus rose by 134 to 3,163.

1:00 p.m. In a letter to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the organization and permanently cut American funding if it does not commit to "major substantive improvements" within the next 30 days.

11:30 a.m. Qantas Airways could restart up to 50% of domestic services in July if states relax border controls, offering low fares without social distancing, its CEO says. The airline will introduce onboard measures on June 12 -- such as masks and cleaning wipes -- but will not leave middle seats empty. If the company complies with the government's social distancing standard, "airfares are going to be eight to nine times more than they are today," he said.

10:45 a.m. Japan will postpone the fiscal 2021 deadline for budget requests by ministries and agencies from Aug. 31 to Sept. 30. to allow them to focus on coronavirus response. Japan's fiscal year begins on April 1.

9:30 a.m. China reports six cases for May 18 compared with seven a day earlier. Three of the six were imported, all in Inner Mongolia. Of the three local transmissions, two were in the northeastern border province of Jilin and one in Hubei. The country also reported 17 new asymptomatic cases.

7:40 a.m. Brazil reports 674 new deaths, bringing the country total to 16,792 and 254,220 infections. The country overtakes the U.K. with the third-highest number of infections.

7:00 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medicine against the coronavirus despite medical warnings about the use of the malaria drug.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is taking the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure.   © Reuters

5:04 a.m. Stock prices surged in the U.S. on reports of promising news on the development of a coronavirus vaccine. The Dow Jones Industrial Average marked its best day since early April, closing 911 points higher at 24,597.

3:00 a.m. Uber Technologies announces roughly 3,000 additional job cuts. The latest reductions appear to include the ride-hailing company's autonomous driving R&D division.

2:30 a.m. Russia hopes to start trials of a coronavirus vaccine candidate within weeks, the country's health minister is quoted as saying by Reuters.

2:18 a.m. The New York state side of Niagara Falls is part of areas set to start reopening, although tourism will not be allowed in the first phase of the plan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says.

12:25 a.m. France, Italy and four other European nations will lift bans on stock short selling effective Tuesday, securities regulators say. The curbs were put in place in response to coronavirus-induced market volatility.

Monday, May 18

10:39 p.m. India's capital eases coronavirus-related restrictions, allowing limited use of public transport, food deliveries by restaurants and construction. But "people across the city will not be allowed to step out of their homes from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., except for essential services," Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal says.

Meanwhile, Indian foodtech firm Swiggy says it will lay off 1,100 employees over the next few days, following job cuts at peer Zomato.

New York stocks surged in morning trading after Moderna reported positive data on its early-stage coronavirus vaccine trials.    © Reuters

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open sharply higher, lifted by hopes for a coronavirus vaccine after U.S. biotech company Moderna announces positive results from a phase 1 study. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbs nearly 700 points.

9:29 p.m. President Xi Jinping attempts to deflect criticism of China's actions to counter the coronavirus outbreak in an address to the World Health Assembly. "The virus does not respect borders, nor is race or nationality relevant," Xi said in a video speech to the decision-making body of the World Health Organization.

6:44 p.m. The coronavirus outbreak has pushed down inflation in China and elsewhere. China has reopened its factories and other businesses, but fears of a second wave of infections is seen putting downward pressure on consumption.

6:26 p.m. Vietnam's legislature will convene half of its sessions via video links, for the first time ever, when it restarts on May 20.

5:49 p.m. Pope Francis leads the full reopening of St. Peter's Basilica on Monday, and Catholic churches hold public Masses for the first time in two months in the latest easing of Italy's coronavirus restrictions. The basilica, which on Friday was sanitized, was later opened to the public for masses after the pope left.

5:12 p.m. The Philippines reports seven new coronavirus deaths and 205 additional infections on Monday. Total deaths from the outbreak increased to 831, while confirmed cases have risen to 12,718.

5:04 p.m. Indonesia announces Monday that it would increase the stimulus package announced last month by nearly 50% to 641.17 trillion rupiah ($43 billion) to offset the impact of the pandemic on the economy. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the rise would widen Indonesia's budget deficit to 6.27% of gross domestic product, up from 5.07% previously. The country registered 496 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 18,010.

4:20 p.m. Indonesia's April car sales plunged 90.6% from a year earlier due to measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to the Association of Indonesia Automotive Industry. A total of 7,871 cars were sold in the country last month. The drop follows a 15% decline in March.

Indonesia's auto sales plummeted 90.6% on the year in April, a trade group said on May 18, as measures to contain the coronavirus kept customers away.   © Reuters

3:50 p.m. Chinese pressure keeps Taiwan from receiving an invitation to this week's meeting of a key World Health Organization body, Taiwan's foreign minister says, adding the parties involved have agreed to put the issue off until later this year. Non-WHO member Taiwan had been lobbying to take part in the WHO's decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, which opens a meeting later today.

3:00 p.m. Mount Fuji will be closed to climbers this summer to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Shizuoka Prefecture, which manages three of the four main routes to Japan's highest peak, announces the closure of its routes to the 3,776-meter peak. Neighboring Yamanashi had already done so for its routes.

1:35 p.m. India records its largest single-day increase of infections with 5,242 reported in the past 24 hours, compared with 4,987 the previous day. The new cases bring India's overall total to 96,169 with 3,029 deaths, according to the health ministry's latest update.

11:50 a.m. Thailand's economy contracted at its sharpest pace in eight years in the first quarter but by less than expected. The country's GDP shrank 1.8% in January-March from a year earlier, data shows, versus a 4% decline forecast in a Reuters poll.

11:20 a.m. China's new home prices rose at a slightly faster pace in April, the latest data shows, adding to signs the country's property market is slowly recovering as coronavirus lockdowns are eased. The average new home price in China's 70 major cities rose 0.5% in April from the prior month, following a 0.1% increase in March, Reuters calculated based on official data.

11:00 a.m. South Korea confirms 15 new cases, up from 13 a day ago. Total infections reach 11,065 with 263 deaths. The Seoul nightclub cluster is dissipating.

Cebu Air, which last year finalized the purchase of about 30 Airbus SE jetliners, says it will defer the deal now that the pandemic has decimated travel demand.   © Reuters

10:40 a.m. China reports seven new confirmed cases for May 17, up from five a day earlier. Two of the seven are in the northeastern province of Jilin, currently in a partial lockdown, taking the total number of new infections in Jilin to 33 since the first case of the current wave was reported on May 7.

10:00 a.m. The Philippines' Cebu Air says it will defer planned aircraft purchases and is in talks with the government for financial support as the pandemic decimates travel demand. Last year, the country's largest budget carrier finalized the purchase of about 30 Airbus SE aircraft, worth $6.8 billion at list price.

8:52 a.m. Japan's economy contracted 0.9% in January-March, or at an annualized pace of 3.4%, the Cabinet Office said Monday, showing that the world's third-largest economy was in a technical recession even before a state of national emergency was declared over the coronavirus outbreak.

2:40 a.m. India extends the national lockdown for a third time to May 31, as the country struggles to contain the viral spread despite almost two months of business and travel restrictions.

1:40 a.m. The U.K. reports the number deaths from people testing positive for COVID-19 rising on Sunday by 170 to 34,636 -- the lowest increase since March 24.

Sunday, May 17

10:50 p.m. Spain's death toll fell below 100 for the first time in two month, as parts of the country prepared to ease lockdowns. Cases rose to 231,350 from 230,698 while deaths rose 87 to 27,650.

9:30 p.m. Wuhan conducted 222,675 nucleic acid tests on May 16, a near twofold increase from the day before. The Chinese city began looking for asymptomatic carriers after confirming last weekend its first cluster of COVID-19 infections since lifting the lockdown on April 8.

A child reacts while undergoing nucleic acid testing in Wuhan.   © Reuters

5:38 p.m. Malaysia reports 22 new cases, bringing the country total to 6,894 with no new deaths, which stand at 113.

5:11 p.m. The Philippines reports 208 new cases and seven more deaths, bringing the country totals to 12,513 and 824, respectively. Most new cases were reported in Manila.

3:28 p.m. China reports five cases, down from eight the day before, bringing the country total to 82,947. Three were locally transmitted in the northern city of Jilin.

3:26 p.m. Japanese athletes who had been training for this year's Olympics are now weighing whether to continue their quests for medals or move on with their lives -- a choice that likely became evident after the Games were postponed.

2:28 p.m. Mongolia's cashmere industry is suffering from the pandemic. Goat herders had been expanding for years to meet growing global demand for soft cashmere.

1:52 p.m. Thailand reports three new cases, bringing the country total to 3,028 as the country eases restrictions on economic activities. Thailand had reported zero cases on Wednesday.

1:24 p.m. China's coronavirus aid has earned mixed reviews in Europe, but the assistance appears to be working in Belarus. China has sent 82 tons of rapid testing kits, masks, protective suits, respirators and other medical equipment over the past month.

11:29 a.m. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faces mounting pressure to prove he has the support of parliament's lower house. Hanging over Muhyiddin is a no-confidence motion submitted by Mahathir Mohamad, his former mentor.

9:56 a.m. Brazil reports the total cases at 233,142, surpassing those of Spain and Italy. Brazil's number is increasing rapidly, making it the fourth-largest in the world.

5:13 a.m. Data indicates that the European variant of the novel coronavirus is spreading globally to regions as diverse as New York, Brazil and Africa.

12:10 a.m. Pharma company Takara Bio will offer Japan's first saliva-based PCR test for the novel coronavirus as early as this month, a method that will make mass testing much easier to implement.

Saturday, May 16

4:29 p.m. Singapore reports 465 new cases, bringing the country total to 27,356. The vast majority of new cases are from migrant workers living in dormitories, government says.

3:59 p.m. Cambodia reports that the last of 122 infected people in the country have recovered and been discharged from medical treatment.

1:51 p.m. India reports its total number of cases hitting 85,940, taking it past China, though a strict lockdown since late March has reduced the rate of contagion.

11:10 a.m. China reports eight new confirmed COVID-19 cases for May 15, up from four the previous day. Six of the eight cases are so-called imported infections, while two are locally transmitted in northeastern Jilin province. The number of new asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus rose to 13 from 11.

9:30 a.m. Italy's government on Saturday approves a decree which will allow travel to and from abroad from June 3, as it moves to loosen one of Europe's most rigid coronavirus lockdowns.

7:50 a.m. J.C. Penney files for bankruptcy protection on Friday, the latest among traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to crumble as prolonged store closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic deliver the final blow to troubled businesses.

7:30 a.m. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said on Friday it has sold much of its stake in Goldman Sachs Group, despite the billionaire's assurance that the banking sector was not a "primary worry" for him during the coronavirus pandemic.

4:50 a.m. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state would join New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware in reopening beaches for the Memorial Day weekend, in a move designed to prevent people from crossing state borders for a respite from the coronavirus lockdown.

4:40 a.m. China's economy shows signs of a resurgence thanks to Beijing stimulus efforts amid the pandemic, with industrial production growing 3.9% on the year in April.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week's latest updates.

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