Asia Today: Samoa leader appeals for calm after COVID case

FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2010, file photo, Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi addresses a summit at the United Nations headquarters. On Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, Malielegaoi addressed the nation live on television and radio and appealed for calm after the country reported it’s first positive test for the coronavirus, although a second test on the same patient returned a negative result. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2010, file photo, Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi addresses a summit at the United Nations headquarters. On Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, Malielegaoi addressed the nation live on television and radio and appealed for calm after the country reported it’s first positive test for the coronavirus, although a second test on the same patient returned a negative result. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Credit: Frank Franklin II

Credit: Frank Franklin II

The leader of the small Pacific nation of Samoa has appealed for calm after the country reported its first positive test for the coronavirus, although a second test on the same patient returned a negative result

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The leader of the small Pacific nation of Samoa appealed for calm Thursday after the country reported its first positive test for the coronavirus, although a second test on the same patient returned a negative result.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi addressed the nation live on television and radio, urging people to remain vigilant with their virus precautions.

Samoa was among a dwindling handful of nations to have not reported a single case of the virus.

According to the Samoa Observer, the prime minister said the patient was a sailor who had been staying in a quarantine facility since flying in from New Zealand on Friday. He said the sailor returned a positive test four days after arriving, but then a second test on Thursday returned a negative result.

The prime minister said the Cabinet would meet Thursday to decide on any changes to the current virus procedures, the Observer reported. Samoa is home to about 200,000 people.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Japan's number of new coronavirus infections has hit a record high and the prime minister is urging maximum caution but has stopped short of calling for restrictions on travel or business. The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 2,179 new cases, the first time Japan has had more than 2,000 new daily cases since the pandemic began. The previous high for new cases was 1,723 on Nov. 14. Compared to many other countries, Japan has done well with its efforts to combat the virus, reporting 122,966 infections, with 1,922 deaths, since the pandemic began. But it has seen an uptick in cases in recent days, with record highs both nationally and in Tokyo.

— Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for closer international cooperation on making a vaccine for the coronavirus available. Xi spoke Thursday in a video address at an event at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Xi said, “To beat the virus and promote the global recovery, the international community must close ranks and jointly respond to the crisis and meet the tests.” He said cooperation would include closer coordination on policies for development and distribution of a vaccine. Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm are in the late stages of testing vaccines, putting them among nearly a dozen companies at or near that level of development.

— India has recorded 45,576 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours as authorities battle to slow a surge of infections in its capital by increasing testing. New Delhi reported 7,486 new cases on Thursday with a record 131 deaths over the previous 24 hours. New Delhi’s top elected official, Arvind Kejriwal, said the government is adding 1,400 new intensive care unit beds to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. He has ruled out a new lockdown in New Delhi. India has seen its new daily cases decline to fewer than 50,000 over the past 12 days.

— South Korea added more than 300 new coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day as authorities began enforcing toughened social distancing rules in some areas. The 343 new cases recorded Thursday by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency took the country’s total to 29,654 with 498 deaths. Elevated physical distancing rules took effect in the greater Seoul area, the southern city of Gwangju and some parts of the eastern Gangwon province. In those areas, gatherings of more than 100 people during rallies, concerts and other events are prohibited, while audiences at sporting events and religious services are limited to 30-50% of capacity. Dancing at nightclubs and drinking at karaoke rooms is also prohibited.

An Imperial guard wearing a face mask to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus stands outside the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. South Korea has reported more than 300 new coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day as authorities begin enforcing toughened social distancing rules in some areas to fight a resurgence of small-scale clusters of infections. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
An Imperial guard wearing a face mask to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus stands outside the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. South Korea has reported more than 300 new coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day as authorities begin enforcing toughened social distancing rules in some areas to fight a resurgence of small-scale clusters of infections. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

Imperial guards wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus stand outside the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. South Korea has reported more than 300 new coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day as authorities begin enforcing toughened social distancing rules in some areas to fight a resurgence of small-scale clusters of infections. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Imperial guards wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus stand outside the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. South Korea has reported more than 300 new coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day as authorities begin enforcing toughened social distancing rules in some areas to fight a resurgence of small-scale clusters of infections. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

A man wearing a face mask gets off train in Tokyo on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Japan's number of reported coronavirus infections hit a record high Thursday, and the prime minister urged maximum caution but stopped short of calling for restrictions on travel or business. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
A man wearing a face mask gets off train in Tokyo on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Japan's number of reported coronavirus infections hit a record high Thursday, and the prime minister urged maximum caution but stopped short of calling for restrictions on travel or business. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Credit: Hiro Komae

Credit: Hiro Komae

Sculptures of pigs are displayed in a nearly empty pedestrian mall in Adelaide, Australia, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. South Australia state that includes the city of Adelaide is in a six-day lockdown schools, universities, bars and cafes closed from Thursday and only one person from each household will be allowed to leave home each day, and only for specific reasons. (David Mariuz/AAP Image via AP)
Sculptures of pigs are displayed in a nearly empty pedestrian mall in Adelaide, Australia, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. South Australia state that includes the city of Adelaide is in a six-day lockdown schools, universities, bars and cafes closed from Thursday and only one person from each household will be allowed to leave home each day, and only for specific reasons. (David Mariuz/AAP Image via AP)

Credit: David Mariuz

Credit: David Mariuz

A health worker takes details of a person before test for COVID-19 in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. India’s tally of confirmed cases, currently the second largest in the world behind the United States, nears 9 million. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
A health worker takes details of a person before test for COVID-19 in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. India’s tally of confirmed cases, currently the second largest in the world behind the United States, nears 9 million. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Credit: Rafiq Maqbool

Credit: Rafiq Maqbool

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a woman to test for COVID-19 as others wait their turn in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. India’s tally of confirmed cases, currently the second largest in the world behind the United States, nears 9 million. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a woman to test for COVID-19 as others wait their turn in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. India’s tally of confirmed cases, currently the second largest in the world behind the United States, nears 9 million. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Credit: Rafiq Maqbool

Credit: Rafiq Maqbool

A member of Indonesia Red Cross prepares disinfectant from a water bladder in an attempt to help curb the spread of coronavirus at Indonesia Red Cross headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
A member of Indonesia Red Cross prepares disinfectant from a water bladder in an attempt to help curb the spread of coronavirus at Indonesia Red Cross headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Credit: Achmad Ibrahim

Credit: Achmad Ibrahim

Pedestrians, some with masks and others not, walk through a street filled with bars and restaurants as they walk towards a train station in Tokyo on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
Pedestrians, some with masks and others not, walk through a street filled with bars and restaurants as they walk towards a train station in Tokyo on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Credit: Hiro Komae

Credit: Hiro Komae

A traveler pushes her luggage cart through the arrivals area of Narita International Airport in Narita, north of Tokyo on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
A traveler pushes her luggage cart through the arrivals area of Narita International Airport in Narita, north of Tokyo on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Credit: Hiro Komae

Credit: Hiro Komae

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