Australia and Oceania

Thousands stuck on cruise ships off Australia over virus fears

PERTH, Australia (AFP) — Thousands of passengers on three cruise ships were stranded off Australia’s west coast Wednesday as officials refused to let them land to avoid repeating the “utter disaster” of a previous cruise-related coronavirus surge. The Artania and Magnifica were anchored off the West Australian port of Fremantle with a third, the Vasco de Gama, on its way. “There are no circumstances we will allow passengers or crew to wander the streets in […]

Starting March 26, Hawaii to implement 14-day self-quarantine for inbound travelers to stem COVID-19 spread

  By Alfred Acenas EBC Hawaii Bureau HONOLULU, Hawaii (Eagle News) – Beginning Thursday, March 26, all travelers bound for Hawaii, whether by air or sea, whether visitor or returning resident, will undergo a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Hawaii Governor David Ige made the announcement during a press conference at the State Capitol Building Rotunda in downtown Honolulu on Saturday, March 21. “This mandate is the first of its kind in the nation. We want this […]

Australia announces nearly $40 billion in virus relief

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia on Sunday announced a $38 billion spending plan to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, as citizens were told to cancel domestic travel plans to slow the virus spread. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the latest Aus$66 billion announced Sunday brought government and central bank measures to support the economy to Aus$189 billion — or nearly 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). “These extraordinary times require extraordinary measures […]

New Zealand goes on lockdown for ‘fighting chance’ against virus

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand will impose a four-week lockdown in a bid to smother coronavirus infection rates and avoid the mass fatalities seen elsewhere in the world, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday. Ardern said the South Pacific nation was fortunate its infection numbers remained relatively low, with 102 cases and no fatalities in the population of about five million. But she said the latest data showed COVID-19 was now being transmitted […]

Asia steps up virus efforts as second wave of infections strikes

by Allison JACKSON Agence France-Presse Hong Kong, China (AFP) — From Australia’s Bondi Beach to the streets of New Delhi, authorities across Asia have ramped up efforts to stem the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus amid fears of a second wave of infections in places where outbreaks had appeared under control. Tighter travel restrictions were imposed in several countries as the number of cases in the region soared past 95,000 — a third of the […]

Panic buying in Fiji as first virus case confirmed

SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Fiji confirmed its first coronavirus case Thursday, sparking panic buying in major centers on the Pacific island nation. The announcement followed rampant speculation across the country of 930,000 that the global pandemic had arrived on its shores. “There is a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in Lautoka that was imported from a patient who had recently traveled abroad,” Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said on Twitter. “He was immediately isolated, where he […]

Australia bans non-residents from arrival: PM

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia on Thursday unveiled an unprecedented ban on any non-residents arriving into the country, ratcheting up efforts to seal the country off from transborder coronavirus infections. “A travel ban will be placed on all non-residents, non-Australian citizens coming to Australia, and that will be in place from 9:00 pm tomorrow evening,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced. © Agence France-Presse

Australia supermarkets start ‘elderly hour’ to counter panic-buying

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — An Australian supermarket chain will start opening its doors exclusively to customers over 60-years-old for one hour a day as part of an effort to ease the burden of panic-buying on the most vulnerable. “Woolworths Supermarkets will be opening exclusively for the elderly and those with a disability to shop from 7am to 8am,” the company said in a statement Monday. The measure is expected to come into effect on Tuesday […]

Australia unveils $11billion stimulus to avert virus downturn

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia on Thursday unveiled a massive US$11 billion spending plan designed to curb the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and avert the country’s first recession in 29 years. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the nearly Aus$18 billion package — equivalent to just under one percent of GDP — which will primarily be targeted at businesses. “This plan is about keeping Australians in jobs. This plan is about keeping a business […]

Netherlands record first death in coronavirus outbreak

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) — The Netherlands has recorded its first death in the novel coronavirus outbreak, health officials said on Friday. “An 86-year-old man with COVID-19 who was admitted to the Ikazia hospital in Rotterdam has died,” the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said, referring to the disease caused by the virus. “This is the first patient in the Netherlands to die of the coronavirus,” the RIVM said, adding that the source of […]

Virus panic buying prompts toilet roll rationing Down Under

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s biggest supermarket on Wednesday announced a limit on toilet paper purchases after the global spread of coronavirus sparked a spate of panic buying Down Under. Woolworths said the restriction of four packs of toilet paper per person would apply “to ensure more customers have access to the products”. Hand sanitizers will also be sold from behind the service counter and restricted to two per person. “It will help shore up […]

New Zealand confirms first coronavirus case

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand confirmed its first coronavirus case Friday, saying a recent arrival from Iran who traveled to Auckland via Bali had tested positive. Health officials said the person, aged in their 60s, was being treated in Auckland City Hospital. “They are in an improving condition in isolation, in a negative pressure room to prevent any spread of the disease,” the health department said in a statement. Officials said the person, […]