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Monday, May 18, 2020, 22:00
New Zealand to roll out 'digital diary' app to track movements
By Agencies
Monday, May 18, 2020, 22:00 By Agencies

Two school children and their parents make their way to school after the government allowed schools to re-open under Level 2 guidelines in Wellington on May 18, 2020. (MARTY MELVILLE / AFP)

SYDNEY / JERUSALEM / ADEN / AMMAN / DAMASCUS / MUSCAT / BAGHDAD  / ANKARA / KABUL -  New Zealand will launch a contact-tracing app on Wednesday to help people track their movements as the country eases one of the world’s most rigid lockdowns designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the app can be best described as a ‘digital diary’ helping people to record their personal movements, adding the data would not be shared to anyone else besides the user.

New Zealand reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on Sunday, said a statement of the Ministry of Health.

The case is linked to a cluster outbreak in an aged care facility in Christchurch, as a household contact of an earlier case.


Iran reported 2,294 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the highest daily increase in more than six weeks, according to official Health Ministry figures.

The rise took the overall tally to 122,492 confirmed cases of the disease, with more than 7,000 deaths, Kianush Jahanpur, spokesman for the ministry, said in a televised statement. Iran last month began lifting some restrictions imposed to curtail the virus.


Indonesian President Joko Widodo ruled out an immediate easing of social distancing rules and ordered officials to strictly enforce a ban on travel during the busy holiday season to prevent a spike in new coronavirus cases.

With new infections soaring 73 percent so far in May, Jokowi, as the president is known, asked officials at a cabinet meeting to increase the surveillance of industrial clusters and focus on enforcing mobility restrictions at the village level. While the government is preparing various scenarios for reopening the economy, no deadline has been set yet, he said.

The spike in infections in recent weeks may delay plans to reopen Southeast Asia’s largest economy as early as next month as an overwhelmed healthcare system fails to ramp up testing of those with even explicit COVID-19 symptoms. With reports of a large number of people traveling to their hometowns to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr later this month in defiance of the ban on such travel, known as mudik, fears have increased of a fresh wave of infections.

Indonesia reported on Monday 496 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the country to 18,010, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto Yurianto also announced 43 new COVID-19 related deaths, taking the total to 1,191, while 4,324 people have recovered. More than 143,030 people have been tested, he said.

Heavy traffic pass through the street after an ease in the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Sydney on May 15, 2020.  (PHOTO / AFP)


Australian officials planned to open pop-up parking lots and extra bicycle lanes in Sydney and other cities as the country’s most populous state began its first full week on Monday of loosened lockdown measures.

New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging people to avoid peak-hour trains and buses as they return to work to ensure that social distancing between commuters is maintained.

Australia’s states and territories are beginning to allow more public activity under a three-step government plan after two months of shutdowns that officials have credited with keeping the country’s exposure to the pandemic relatively low.

NSW, which accounts for around half of Australia’s 7,045 COVID-19 cases, reported just one new infection in the previous 24 hours. The state also reported one additional death, the first nationally in almost a week, taking the nationwide toll to 99.

“We normally encourage people to catch public transport but given the constraints in the peak and the fact we are exercising social distancing, we want people to consider different ways to get to work,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

“Places in and around the CBD, but also in employment hubs, will be investigated and more pop-up parking stations will be made available,” she added.

For people still catching trains and buses, the government is ordering “intense and ongoing cleaning” across the public transport network, she said.


India on Sunday extended a nationwide lockdown to May 31, as cases exceeded 90,000 and further clashes erupted between police and stranded migrants.

Schools, malls and other public places will remain mostly closed, though rules will be relaxed in areas with low numbers of cases, according to an order from the interior ministry.

“New guidelines have permitted considerable relaxations in lockdown restrictions,” the ministry said in a tweet accompanying the order.

Large gatherings are still prohibited, but outside of containment zones with high numbers of active cases “all other activities will be permitted”, it said, potentially allowing commerce and industry to reopen across much of the country.

During the extended lockdown, movement of people will remain strictly prohibited from 7:00 pm till 7:00 am, except for essential services. People aged above 65 years, pregnant women, children aged below 10 years shall stay at home except for essential and health purposes.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in India crossed the 3,000-mark, reaching 3,029, as the total cases reached 96,169 on Monday, according to the official data released by the federal health ministry. The biggest spike of 5,242 cases was recorded in a single day, from Sunday till Monday, according to the data.


The number of COVID-19 cases in Israel reached 16,617 on Sunday, the state's Ministry of Health said.

The death toll in Israel increased from 268 to 272, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 59 to 55, out of 177 patients currently hospitalized, according to the ministry.

The number of recoveries increased to 12,942, with 87 new recoveries registered on Sunday, while the number of active cases decreased to 3,403.


Yemen's health authorities on Sunday recorded six new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total confirmed cases in the war-ravaged Arab country to 128.

According to a brief statement released by the country's supreme national emergency, during the past 24 hours, six new cases were officially recorded, including two new deaths, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 128.

Meanwhile, the death toll climbed to 20 in different areas of the government-controlled provinces, including the southern port city of Aden and the southeastern province of Hadramout.


Jordan's Health Minister Saad Jaber said Sunday that six new coronavirus cases were recorded in Jordan, increasing the total number of cases to 613.

The minister added that four patients were discharged from the hospital on Sunday and there are 131 patients currently receiving treatment.

Meanwhile, the second phase of evacuating Jordanians stranded abroad has been completed, with a total of 15 flights bringing around 3,000 Jordanians back, Director of Jordanian Queen Alia International Airport's Security and Protection Khaled Shantir said Sunday.


Seven new COVID-19 cases were registered in Syria on Sunday, bringing the overall number of cases to 58, the health ministry said in a statement.

The new cases were discovered in people who have recently come back to Syria from Kuwait, said the statement.

Syria has so far recorded 36 recoveries and three deaths from COVID-19, according to the statement.

An Indonesian official checks the body temperature of a fisherman in Batam on March 4, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)


Cases of coronavirus in Palestine have increased to 560 after five new cases were recorded in the southern West Bank district of Hebron early on Monday. 

The new cases have contracted the disease from a Palestinian worker who recently returned from Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.


The Omani Ministry of Health announced on Sunday 157 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 5,186.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, all new cases, including 81 Omanis, are related to community contact.

The statement also said 29 patients of COVID-19 have recovered, bringing the total recovered cases to 1,465. One new death was reported, bringing the death toll to 22.

ALSO READ: Thailand extends ban on flights to end of June


The Iraqi Health Ministry on Sunday recorded 144 cases of COVID-19, the highest daily increase so far, as Baghdad for the first time recorded more than 100 cases.

The new cases include 105 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, 16 in Karbala, nine in Wasit, seven in Sulaimaniyah, four in Basra and three in Muthanna, the statement said.

So far, 123 people have died from the disease in Iraq, while 2,218 have recovered, it added.


Turkey on Sunday confirmed 1,368 new COVID-19 cases and 44 more deaths in the past 24 hours, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey rose to 149,435, while the death toll surged to 4,140, Koca tweeted.

A total of 1,825 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, the minister noted.


The number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal crossed 300 mark with the addition of nine cases on Monday morning, Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population said.

The number of COVID-19 cases has now reached 304, the ministry said in a press statement on Monday.

The Nepali government decided on Sunday to extend the nationwide lockdown by another 15 days as the Himalayan country is witnessing a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, a senior cabinet minister said.


Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 305 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the smallest increase in over a month, taking its tally of infections to 28,343.

The ministry cautioned that the lower number of cases was partly due to fewer tests being processed as one testing laboratory was reviewing its processes following an earlier apparatus calibration issue.

Singapore is testing 30,000 preschool staff in batches from May 15-26 as the government prepares for the reopening of preschools, according to a message sent via its gov.sg WhatsApp channel. More than 6,000 staff have already been swabbed.

“Many have asked whether general services at preschools will resume on 2 June,” Desmond Lee, the city-state’s Minister for Social and Family Development, said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “We are assessing the situation, and hope to be able to make an announcement on this soon.”


The number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 6,664 in Afghanistan as 262 new cases were registered over the past 24 hours, Public Health Ministry's Deputy Spokesman Tawhid Shakohmand said on Sunday.

Shakohmand said one patient had died due to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of COVID-19-related deaths to 169 since the outbreak of the infectious disease in Afghanistan.

A total of 784 patients have recovered since the outbreak in Afghanistan in February, the spokesman added. 


Vietnam's Ministry of Health on Monday late afternoon confirmed four new cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the total in the country to 324.

Vietnam announced three more patients totally recovering from COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total cured cases in Vietnam to 263 as of Monday while there are 131 suspected cases and nearly 11,000 people being monitored and quarantined, with no deaths from the disease reported so far.

The country has recorded no local transmission for 32 straight days, according to the ministry. 


The climbing season for Mount Fuji is cancelled for this year due to the virus, local officials said on Monday.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 22, bringing the total number of cases to reach 16,337, according to the country’s health ministry.

The number excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo.

The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus stands at 769, with the figure including those from the cruise ship.

Japan’s economy sank last quarter into a recession that’s likely to deepen further as households limit spending to essentials and companies cut investment, production and hiring to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 3.4 percent in the three months through March from the previous quarter as exports slid and social distancing crimped consumer spending, Cabinet Office figures showed Monday. 


The number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia has risen to 6,894 after 22 new cases were recorded, the nation’s health ministry said on Sunday.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said at a press briefing that 59 more cases have been released, bringing the total cured and discharged to 5,571 or 80.8 percent of all cases.

South Korea

South Korea reported 15 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Monday local time, raising the total number of infections to 11,065.

The daily caseload hovered below 20 for three straight days. Of the new cases, 10 were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,177.

The domestic infection stayed in single digits for the third consecutive day.

One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 263. The total fatality rate stood at 2.38 percent.

A health worker checks the body temperature of migrant workers before entering a railway station on the outskirts of Amritsar on May 16, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 40,151 with 873 deaths in Pakistan, according to the data updated by the country's health ministry on Sunday.

A total of 1,352 new cases and 39 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, the statistics showed.

Overall, 27,937 patients are under treatment in different hospitals while 11,341 have recovered completely, which is 28.2 percent of the total confirmed cases.

READ MORE: NZ leader turned away from cafe under coronavirus rules


Lebanese shops and businesses re-opened on Monday following a decision by the cabinet to reduce general mobilization measures adopted in fight against COVID-19 given the dire economic conditions prevailing in Lebanon, Elnashra, local independent newspaper, reported.

Lebanon's number of COVID-19 infections increased on Sunday by nine to 911 while the death toll remained at 26, the National News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Hamad Hassan highlighted the need to follow general mobilization measures during their gradual removal for the return to normal life in the country.


Kuwait on Monday reported 841 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 15,691 and the death toll to 118, the health ministry said in a statement.

Currently, 11,234 patients are receiving treatment, including 161 in ICU, according to the statement.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 246 more patients, raising the total number of recoveries in the country to 4,339.

Kuwait and Qatar both said on Sunday they would start jailing people or fining them thousands of dollars for failing to wear a facemask to combat the novel coronavirus.

Kuwait’s health ministry said anyone caught could face up to three months in prison, while Qatar state TV reported the maximum penalty there would be three years.

In Kuwait the maximum fine stood at 5,000 dinars (US$16,200) and in Qatar 200,000 riyals (US$55,000).


Qatar's Health Ministry on Monday announced 1,365 new infections of the novel coronavirus, increasing the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 33,969, of which 29,055 persons are under treatment.

A total of 161,695 persons have undergone lab tests for COVID-19 in the country so far. 


The total number of COVID-19 cases in Myanmar has risen to 187, with three more confirmed cases reported on Monday, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Of the newly confirmed cases, two patients are from Kayin state while another one is from Thanintharyi region, the release said.

According to the release, all patients were under quarantine as they had traveling history in the past 14 days.

According to the ministry's release, 97 patients have recovered from the disease so far.


Thailand’s economy contracted at its sharpest pace in eight years in the first quarter, pushing Southeast Asia’s second largest economy into recession sooner than expected, as the coronavirius pandemic hit tourism and domestic activity.

The state planning agency, reporting January-March data on Monday, slashed its forecast for 2020 gross domestic product (GDP) to a contraction of 5.0-6.0 percent from growth of 1.5 percent-2.5 percent projected in February.

That would be the worst decline since 1998 when the Asian financial crisis damaged the economy.

The economy shrank 1.8 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the deepest contraction since the fourth quarter of 2011, when there was bad flooding.


Mongolia's National Center for Communicable Disease (NCCD) on Monday confirmed four new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 140 in the country.

The latest confirmed cases are Mongolian nationals who returned home from Russia last week, according to the NCCD.

In addition, three more patients have recovered from the coronavirus, raising the total number of recoveries in the country to 24, said the center.


Kyrgyzstan's health authorities reported 78 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number to 1,216.

The country's Deputy Health Minister Nurbolot Usenbaev said that among 1,669 tests carried out in the past 24 hours, 78 came back positive.

He noted that among the newly infected, 46 are imported cases. All 46 are Kyrgyz citizens evacuated from Russia, among them four medical workers and the rest contacts of the confirmed cases.

The Philippines

The Philippine health department on Monday reported 205 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of coronavirus infections in the country to 12,718.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 94 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,729.

It said seven more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 831.

The DOH said 145 cases were reported in Metro Manila, 52 cases from other parts of the country, and eight cases in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines. 

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