Asia virus latest: Japan lifts emergency, India domestic flights resume

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Japan has been spared the worst of the pandemic

Here are the latest developments in Asia related to the coronavirus pandemic:

- Japan lifts virus emergency -

Japan lifted a nationwide state of emergency over the coronavirus, gradually reopening the world's third-largest economy as government officials warned caution was still necessary to prevent another wave.

"We had very stringent criteria for lifting the state of emergency. We have judged that we have met this," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a nationally televised news conference.

- Jitters as Indian domestic flights resume -

Domestic flights resumed in India even as coronavirus cases surge, while confusion about quarantine rules prompted jitters among passengers and the cancellation of dozens of planes.

India halted almost all commercial air travel in late March as it sought to stop the spread of the coronavirus with the world's largest lockdown.

But desperate to get the economy moving again, the government announced last week that around 1,050 daily flights -- a third of usual capacity -- would restart on Monday.

- Thailand enters global race for vaccine -

Thailand is conducting tests on macaque monkeys as it races to produce a cheaper, alternative coronavirus vaccine it hopes will be ready by 2021, a top researcher has said.

More than 100 candidate vaccines are currently in various stages of development around the world, at least eight of which are in clinical trials with humans, according to the World Health Organization.

- Fiji Airways halves workforce -

Pandemic-hit Fiji Airways fired more than half its workforce as travel restrictions put the islands' vital tourism sector in deep freeze and reduced the national carrier's revenue to "virtually zero".

Chief executive Andre Viljoen said that after "exhausting all other options" the airline had decided to let 758 staff go -- some 51 percent of the workforce -- while those remaining would face a permanent pay cut of 20 percent.

- Japan premium fruit prices plunge -

A pair of premium Japanese melons sold for just a slice of the five million yen ($46,000) reached at auction last year, as the coronavirus bites hard, keeping away rich corporate clients.

The melons from Yubari, on the northern island of Hokkaido, sold for a snip at 120,000 yen at the season's first auction -- 40 times less than last year's record price tag.

- Pro tennis bounces back with NZ tournament -

New Zealand Tennis said it was set to host the southern hemisphere's first professional tournament since the COVID-19 shutdown.

The men's Premier League tournament in Auckland next month will feature 24 players competing in three teams at spectator-free arenas over three weeks.