Japan: 60 new cases found on cruise ship.

Nearly 60 new cases of coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Nagasaki among crew members of an Italian cruise ship docked there, Japanese domestic media has reported.

With testing of all crew members complete, the new number, reported by public broadcaster NHK, brings the total infections onboard the Costa Atlantica to around 150, roughly one-quarter of the vessel’s 623 crew members. TV Asahi said 57 crew members tested positive in the latest round.

The infection cluster onboard the vessel docked in Nagasaki comes as hospitals are running out of beds in some parts of Japan, where the national tally of virus cases has risen above 12,800 with 345 deaths. Of those infected onboard the Costa Atlantica, only one crew member had been admitted to hospital, NHK said, while others remained on board having shown slight or no symptoms.

Thailand has reported 53 new coronavirus cases and the death of a 48-year-old Thai man who was infected with the virus along with four other family members. Of the new cases, three were linked to previous cases, one had no known links, and 42 were migrant workers who have been under quarantine at an immigration detention centre in the southern province of Songkhla.

Seven other new cases were reported from the southern province of Yala, where authorities are aggressively testing the population because of high infection rates there, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration. Since the outbreak escalated in January, Thailand has reported a total of 2,907 cases and 51 deaths, while 2,547 patients are reported to have recovered.

China reported 12 new coronavirus cases on Friday compared with six the previous day, National Health Commission data showed on Saturday. Of the new cases, 11 were imported, compared with two cases reported previously, the data said. The commission reported 29 new asymptomatic cases, slightly down from the previous day’s tally of 34. Four of these cases were imported. The total number of confirmed cases in China is now 82,816. The death toll remained the same at 4,632, with no new deaths reported on 24 April.

Meanwhile Reuters has reported that China sought to block a European Union report alleging Beijing was spreading disinformation about the coronavirus outbreak.

The report was eventually released, albeit just before the start of the weekend Europe time and with some criticism of the Chinese government rearranged or removed, a sign of the balancing act Brussels is trying to pull off as the coronavirus outbreak scrambles international relations.

Diplomatic sources told Reuters that the report had initially been slated for release on 21 April but was delayed after a senior Chinese official contacted European officials in Beijing the same day to tell them that, “if the report is as described and it is released today it will be very bad for cooperation”. The correspondence quoted a senior Chinese foreign ministry official, Yang Xiaoguang, as saying that publishing the report would make Beijing “very angry” and accused European officials of trying to please “someone else” – which the EU diplomats understood as meaning Washington.

The four sources said the report had been delayed as a result, and a comparison of the internal version of the report obtained by Reuters and the final version published late Friday showed several differences. For example, on the first page of the internal report shared with EU governments on 20 April, the EU’s foreign policy arm said: “China has continued to run a global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak of the pandemic and improve its international image. Both overt and covert tactics have been observed.” The public summary posted on Friday to the EU’s disinformation portal, euvsdisinfo.eu, attributed the disinformation to “state-backed sources from various governments, including Russia and to a lesser extent China”. The public summary did note “significant evidence of covert Chinese operations on social media” but the reference was left to the final six paragraphs of the document.

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