An Iranian woman wears a protective face mask in Teheran, Iran, on March 18, 2020.

An Iranian woman wears a protective face mask in Teheran, Iran, on March 18, 2020.

Iran sees its highest daily death toll of 149

TEHERAN • Iran has announced 149 new deaths in 24 hours from the coronavirus – one every 10 minutes – as calls mounted for the government to take stricter measures against the Covid-19 disease.

The latest death toll on Thursday was a daily record for Iran, where the overall toll of 1,284 dead makes it one of the nations worst hit by the pandemic. A total of 18,407 people have contracted the disease in Iran.


Indian state shuts shops and offices

MUMBAI • India’s westerly state of Maharashtra yesterday decided to close all shops and offices, except those providing essential services, in India’s financial capital Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, until March 31, in an attempt to restrict the spread of the coronavirus, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said.


Cathay Pacific cuts nearly all flights

HONG KONG • Hong Kong-based airline company Cathay Pacific yesterday announced the reduction of its passenger capacity by 96 per cent due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while low-fare airline HK Express announced the temporary suspension of all its flights from Monday to April 30. Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Cathay Dragon will reduce capacity by 96 per cent across their passenger network next month and in May.


Asean summit delayed till end-June

HANOI • A summit of Asean and other international leaders scheduled in Vietnam early next month has been postponed until end-June due to worries about the coronavirus, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The 36th summit of the 10-member Asean had been scheduled to take place from April 6 to 9 in Vietnam.


Philippines gets boost in testing capacity

MANILA • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines rose to 230, including 18 deaths, as of yesterday, while the country is boosting its capacity to test more patients for the virus after receiving 100,000 testing kits from China.

Five laboratories that can conduct up to 300 tests daily are in place across the nation, and two more are being set up, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday.


Taiwan’s coronavirus cases jump again

TAIPEI • The number of coronavirus cases in Taiwan jumped again yesterday with 27 new infections, taking the total to 135, with a second death also reported, as the island fights to contain a rise in imported cases.

Taiwan has won global plaudits for its efforts to contain the spread of the virus, but has begun reporting daily increases in cases among people returning from abroad, especially Europe. It saw its largest daily increase in cases yesterday and the majority were imported, the government said.

Taiwan is rolling out a NT$60 billion (S$2.9 billion) stimulus package to help soften the economic impact of the virus, and President Tsai Ing-wen has said a further NT$40 billion is available.