Asian Insider, Feb 12: Coronavirus, African swine fever, and lost at sea for a month

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.

Hi,

In today’s bulletin: Has the coronavirus peaked?; Indonesia prepares for haze outbreak; four survive a month adrift at sea, and more.

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CHINA REPORTS LOWEST NUMBER OF NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES, EXPERTS DISAGREE ON PEAK

In what could be the first piece of good news, China on Wednesday reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since late January, lending credence to a prediction from the country’s senior medical adviser that the outbreak could be over by April.

Leading Chinese expert Dr Zhong Nanshan clarified comments he made on Tuesday about the incubation period being as long as 24 days, saying only one in a sample of 1,099 patients infected had such a long incubation.

Meanwhile, 39 new cases have been found on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, off the coast of Japan. A total of 174 people have tested positive on the ship so far.

Also on Wednesday, a Chinese company said it can make Gilead's coronavirus drug, and an expert gave personal hygiene advice on beating the virus.

See also:

Coronavirus hot spots flare far from Wuhan

China will stagger the return of students to school across different regions in order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

US words, deeds amid coronavirus outbreak fuel Chinese suspicions

INDONESIA WILL BAR CITIZENS WHO WERE ISIS MILITANTS

After months of heated debate, the Indonesian government has decided not to repatriate some 600 Indonesian former militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group and their families, but analysts warned that the move would not stop them from sneaking into the country illegally. These former ISIS fighters have been known to pay middlemen to help them leave Syria and fly to Indonesia from peaceful countries. 

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old was detained in Singapore for supporting ISIS.

Read more: ISIS capability in Syria is intact: US government watchdog 

INDONESIA’S RIAU PREPARES AIR FLEET TO AVERT HAZE OUTBREAK

The Indonesian province is readying a fleet of cloud-seeding and water-bombing aircraft to avert a recurrence of last year's outbreak of forest and land fires as well as haze after several hot spots were detected. Riau, which is second closest to Singapore after Riau Islands province, on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for fires, allowing Jakarta to mobilise these resources to provide more aid to the province.

Meanwhile, Bangkok is already facing its own haze problems.

Read further: Greenpeace says air pollution costs the world US$8 billion a day

AUSTRALIA’S ‘BLACK SUMMER’ IS A GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR CLIMATE POLICY ACTION

Australia's deadly wildfires have opened up a small window of opportunity for the country to break a decade-long impasse on climate policy, as some politicians and big business push for major change. This week, legislation to target zero carbon emissions by 2050 was proposed.

"Eighty per cent of the public wants to see us addressing climate change. The impacts are real. We are experiencing them now," said an Independent politician, who plans to introduce the Bill into Parliament next month.

Must read: Australia bush fires ignite calls for indigenous fire practices

Meanwhile: Downpour douses Aussie bush fires but raises flood danger

THOUSANDS RALLY AGAINST PIG CULL AMID AFRICAN SWINE FEVER OUTBREAK IN NORTH SUMATRA

Thousands of people, including pig breeders and restaurant owners, have staged a rally in Medan, the provincial capital of North Sumatra, to protest against a plan to cull pigs to curb African swine fever. Provincial Governor Edy Rahmayadi disclosed the plan in January to halt the spread of the disease, which has left more than 40,000 pigs dead in the past few months.

The virus has spread to the Philippines and China, and South Korea has also been affected.

Meanwhile, the US says it has developed a vaccine.

IN OTHER NEWS

GLOBAL TEMPERATURES RISING: Unprecedented warming will dominate the coming decade, according to a new study, which said every year is likely to rank among the planet's 10 hottest. Global temperatures are already consistently breaking records, with 2016 the warmest ever followed by 2019, data from the World Meteorological Organisation show.

CARLOS GHOSN SUED: Nissan is stepping up its pursuit of claims against former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, suing for S$126 million in damages from the former leader of the Japanese automaker and its alliance with Renault. The lawsuit filed in Yokohama District Court seeks to "recover a significant part of the monetary damages inflicted on the company by its former Chairman as a result of years of his misconduct and fraudulent activity", Nissan said.

SURVIVORS FOUND: Four people who survived a month adrift in the Pacific were recovering in the Solomon Islands on Wednesday after an ordeal that claimed the lives of eight of their companions, including a baby, reports said. The group said they survived by eating coconuts found floating in the sea and collected rainwater in a bowl during their 32 days adrift.

That’s it for now - see you tomorrow,

Tom