HONG KONG, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Three people were tested positive for COVID-19 in a cruise ship docked in Sydney on Friday, while the confirmed cases in Malaysia surpassed 1,000 among other Asia-Pacific economies.
Australia's New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Friday that three people among the 4,000 passengers and crew onboard a cruise ship were tested positive for COVID-19.
Hazzard said doctors did 13 tests onboard the "Ruby Princess" which docked in Sydney and found three COVID-19 cases, including one crew member.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced stricter restrictions on non-essential indoor gatherings, which had already been limited to 100 people.
Under the new rules, each person at an indoor gathering must be provided with at least four square meters of space.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia was 709 as of Friday morning, with the seventh death reported. This is an increase of 25.4 percent from 565 on Thursday morning.
Small businesses in Australia struck by the impacts of COVID-19 will be able to defer loan payments for a period of six months under a plan put forward by the country's banks.
Malaysia Health Ministry has reported 130 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the country to 1,030.
Of the new cases, at least 48 were traced to a large scale religious event held near the capital of Kuala Lumpur from late February to early March, Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.
Samoa and Tonga on Friday declared a 14-day state of emergency, effective from midnight Friday, as part of the efforts to curb the COVID-19.
Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the state of emergency orders include a national prayer week from March 22 to March 29, shutting down international travel except for returning Samoan citizens (who will require negative COVID-19 tests five days before travelling), and a ban of gatherings of five people or more.
Meanwhile, Tonga's Prime Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa also declared a state of emergency which banned all foreign nationals from entering Tonga in a restriction effective until April 17.
All Tongan citizens and emergency officials arriving in the island nation will now have to go through a 14-day quarantine period.
Currently, there have been no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in Tonga and Samoa, which just had one suspected case.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India on Friday evening rose to 223, India's federal health ministry said.
"Of these, 191 cases are Indian nationals and 32 foreign nationals," said a statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged the Indians to observe a self-imposed curfew on Sunday from 07:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. He especially urged those aged above 60 years not to move out of their homes in the coming weeks.
India's western state of Maharashtra has announced the closure of all non-essential workplaces in Mumbai and other adjacent towns along with three more cities in the state starting mid-night of March 20 until March 31.
South Korea reported 87 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of midnight Friday local time, raising the total number to 8,652.
The newly confirmed cases fell below 100 once again, after recording 152 on Thursday. The caseload grew in double figures from Sunday to Wednesday.
Japan's health ministry and local governments said the number of COVID-19 infections has risen to 984 cases as of 7:00 p.m. local time, with 48 newly reported in one day.
The death toll in Japan currently stands at a total of 41 people, with the figure including those from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama, close to Tokyo.
Eleven new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand were confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 39.
Air New Zealand received 900 million New Zealand dollars from the government to bail the company out of the crisis.
The government and the hard-hit airlines reached a debt funding agreement through commercial 24-month loan facilities of up to 900 million New Zealand dollars.
The COVID-19 outbreak has claimed 32 lives in Indonesia, with 60 new cases confirmed on Friday, bringing the total to 369 in the country, according to the latest data issued by the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).
The number of COVID-19 infection cases in the Philippines rose to 230, with 13 new cases reported, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The pandemic has forced the Asian Development Bank to adjust the structure of the 53rd annual meeting of its Board of Governors this year, according to the Manila-based bank.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) rolled out stringent measures requiring health certificates from all incoming air passengers before entering Thailand.
"Visiting foreigners will also need to have COVID-19 insurance coverage worth at least 100,000 U.S. dollars in order to be allowed entry into Thailand," said CAAT Commissioner Dr. Chula Sukmanop.
The new rule will take effect from 12:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Meanwhile, authorities have been looking for over 500 people who earlier visited Lumpini boxing stadium and bars in Thong Lor and Ramkhamhaeng areas of the capital city, who have the risk of being infected with the COVID-19.
Of a total of 322 people reportedly infected with COVID-19 in Thailand so far, 72 people were infected after they visited the boxing stadium and 62 others were infected after they visited the bars, according to local government.
Vietnam's Ministry of Health on Friday afternoon confirmed two new COVID-19 cases in the capital city of Hanoi, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 87.
A COVID-19 patient from Vietnam's northern Thai Binh province was discharged from the hospital after recovery on Friday, bringing the total of cured patients in the country to 17, Vietnam News Agency reported.
The Sri Lankan government declared a nationwide curfew on Friday, urging all citizens to abide by the law and stay indoors to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the island country.
The curfew began at 6:00 p.m. Friday and will end at 6:00 a.m. local time Monday.
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka on Thursday announced urgent measures to ease pressure on the country's exchange rate and prevent panic in financial markets amid the pandemic.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called to lift economic sanctions on Iran to help the country better fight the COVID-19.
Iran is among the countries which have been severely hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
"This is a humanitarian issue. Our thousands of Pakistani pilgrims are also stuck up in Iran and they will also return," the foreign minister said.
The Pakistani government has appealed to the nation including politicians to set aside differences and will seek help from Chinese experts to fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.
Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry on Friday reported two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number to 26.
Maldives' main state-owned Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital has called on retired healthcare workers to enlist in the fight against COVID-19.
The government of Maldives has decided to subsidize the cost of water and electricity for the next two months in order to provide financial support to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer.
Maldives has 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has declared a state of public health emergency.
Fiji Airways, the island nation's national carrier, has decided to suspend 95 percent of its international flights until the end of May.
Banks in Fiji have started taking precautionary measures by going paperless during transaction to minimize the risks of COVID-19
According to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) on Friday, Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) is encouraging customers and its BSP Point of Sale merchants to use cards and reduce the physical exchange of cash.
Three more people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 infection in Bangladesh, bringing the number of infected patients in the country to 20, Professor Nasima Sultana, additional director general of Bangladesh's Directorate General of Health Services, said at a media briefing here Friday.
Bangladeshi Health Minister Zahid Malik announced to assign army to help combat COVID-19 on Thursday, saying the army will be used to build special quarantine facilities in Tongi on the outskirts of capital Dhaka.
Myanmar has suspended sending its migrant workers abroad amid COVID-19 fears, state-run media reported Friday.
The issuance of employment contracts and overseas employment identity cards are also being suspended.
No confirmed COVID-19 case has been reported so far in Myanmar.
Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering on Friday announced the second case of COVID-19 at a press briefing. The patient is a 59-year old female tourist in Bhutan who was kept in quarantine since March 5.
Lao capital Vientiane authorities have instructed various businesses to not increase prices of consumer goods and services amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The country has not reported any confirmed cases since the outbreak.
Cambodia's Ministry of Health announced in a press statement late on Thursday that 10 more people were tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of the confirmed cases in the kingdom to 47.
The new patients included four Cambodians -- two women and two men -- and six Malaysian missionaries, the statement said.