COMPILED FROM WIRE REPORTS
April 27, 2020 at 17:19 JST
Lighted rooms at the Millennium Hilton hotel show in the shape of a smiley face to send messages of hope amid the coronavirus outbreak in Seoul on April 26. (AP Photo)
BANGKOK--China’s ambassador reportedly is warning the Australian government its pursuit of a coronavirus inquiry could set off a boycott by Chinese consumers, who may no longer travel and study in Australia or buy major exports including beef and wine.
Ambassador Cheng Jingye told The Australian Financial Review in an interview published on Monday that Australia’s push for an inquiry was “dangerous” and predicted it would fail to gain traction.
“Resorting to suspicion, recrimination or division at such a critical time could only undermine global efforts to fight against this pandemic,” Cheng said.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said an independent inquiry was in the interests of Australia and the world.
“We’ve seen 3 million people infected and over 200,000 lives lost so of course there has to be an independent review,” Hunt told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“To have a major global, cataclysmic event and not to review it would seem very odd and very strange and so ultimately we have to take the steps that are in not just the interests of Australia, but in the interests of common humanity,” Hunt added.
The Australian government has called for an inquiry into the respiratory virus and for changes to the World Health Organization due to its alleged shortcomings in handling the pandemic.
Education is Australia’s third-largest export industry and China is the largest source of students studying in Australia. China is also Australia’s largest trading partner.
The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the newspaper article.
THAILAND REPORTS 1 DEATH, 9 NEW CASES
Thailand on Monday reported nine new coronavirus cases and one death, bringing the country’s totals to 2,931 cases and 52 fatalities.
It is the first time since the outbreak started in January that there have been no new local transmissions reported in Bangkok, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
Of the new cases, three were linked to previous cases, two are arrivals from overseas that have been under state quarantined, and four others were reported from the southern province of Yala, where the authorities are aggressively testing the population due to high infection rates.
The latest death was of a 64-year-old Thai woman.
Since the outbreak escalated in January 2,609 patients have recovered and gone home.
SOUTH KOREA MAY REOPEN SCHOOLS
South Korea reported 10 fresh cases of the coronavirus as officials mull reopening schools. The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national totals to 10,738 cases and 243 deaths.
Using an active test-and-quarantine program, South Korea has managed to slow its outbreak without lockdowns or business bans. But schools remain shut while providing children remote learning.
Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun instructed education officials to prepare hygiene and social distancing measures so the government could announce a timeline for reopening schools no later than early May.
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