Asia spurred into action
The measures in India come as other Asian nations see jumps in cases and rush to implement emergency measures of their own.
On Sunday, Thailand reported 188 new novel coronavirus cases, its biggest single-day rise, bringing its total to 599. Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has announced new measures, which include the closure of dine-in restaurants, shopping malls and amusement parks.
Fears of a second surge in cases from patients traveling from overseas has prompted officials in China to divert all Beijing-bound international flights to other cities starting on Monday.
China confirmed 39 additional cases of coronavirus as of the end of day Sunday, according to the country’s National Health Commission — all were imported cases.
Singapore said it will shut its borders to all short-term visitors and travelers transiting though the city starting from Monday, according to its Health Ministry, which said the majority of its new infections were “imported cases.”
On Monday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced new measures that “place the most significant restriction on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history.”
The country will issue its highest alert level in 48 hours and close all non-essential businesses across the country, such as bars, gyms, and cinemas. All schools will be closed from Tuesday while supermarkets and service stations will remain open, Ardern said.
Australia has also taken unprecedented measures in its response to the pandemic. Businesses across the country on Monday followed the government’s orders to shut down bars, restaurants, gyms, places of worship and other venues where people traditionally congregate.
“Life is changing in Australia for every Australian and life is going to continue to change,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “For many young and old, 2020 will be the toughest year of our lives.”
The state of South Australia declared a “major emergency” and shut its border with the rest of the country on Sunday after an increase in confirmed cases from travelers entering the state.
South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall said anyone entering South Australia “will be required to undertake 14 days of self-isolation.”
The country’s biggest state, New South Wales, will shut down all “non-essential services” in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. The measures come after both Tasmania and the Northern Territory introduced similar measures requiring all travelers to self-isolate for 14-days upon entry into the state.
Olympics could be postponed
As sporting events across the world have been canceled, one of the biggest questions remains over whether the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will go ahead.
Speaking to lawmakers on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said postponing the Olympics was a possibility.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that a final decision on postponement will be made within four weeks, due to the vast complexities of rescheduling a massive global sporting event like the Olympics.
“The IOC’s decision is along the lines of what I said before, of holding the event in its complete form. If that becomes difficult — and thinking first about the health of the athletes — we may have no option but to consider postponing the Games,” Abe said, speaking at the budget committee in Japan’s upper house of parliament.
It’s the first time that Abe has changed his staunch public position that the Olympics will start on July 24 as scheduled.
In recent days, a growing number of countries and athletes have called for the Games to be postponed. On Monday, Canada announced
that it wouldn’t be sending athletes, making it the first country to back out of the Games.
“This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health,” Team Canada said in a statement. “With Covid-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games.”
Australia’s Olympic Committee has also told its athletes to prepare for the possibility that the Games could be postponed until 2021.
Scrapping the Olympics during peacetime would be unprecedented — they have only been canceled before during the two World Wars.