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Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 23:14
Australia says borders likely to stay closed until 2021
By Agencies
Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 23:14 By Agencies

Sunset hues fall on the landmark Sydney Opera House as visitors walk past Circular Quay, in Sydney on June 16, 2020. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)

JERUSALEM / CAIRO / DUBAI / WILLINGTON / SYDNEY - Australia is unlikely to reopen its border to international travellers until next year but will look to relax entry rules for students and other long-term visitors, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said on Wednesday. 

Birmingham said a quarantine rule for returning citizens could be applied to international students and other visitors who plan to stay for a long period of time.

University of Canberra and The Australian National University plan to hire a plane to fly in hundreds of foreign students shut out in the middle of their studies by border closures due to COVID-19, a move they hope will start to salvage a major export earner. 

The plan has the approval of the territory government but still needs the sign-off of the federal government, the universities said. The federal government closed national

Victoria recorded its biggest daily increase of COVID-19 infections in over a month, with 21 new cases officially recorded on Wednesday.

Afghanistan

The Afghan Ministry of Public Health confirmed on Wednesday 564 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of patients in the country to 26,874.

Thirteen COVID patients died within the period, taking the death toll to 504, according to the statement.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh reported over 4,000 new COVID-19 patients Wednesday, the biggest daily jump since the virus was first reported on March 8 in the country.

Professor Nasima Sultana, a senior Health Ministry official, said in an online briefing on Wednesday afternoon that "4,008 new COVID-19 positive cases and 43 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh."

"The total number of positive cases is 98,489 and the death toll stands currently at 1,305," she added.

Amid a rapid increase of infections, the government was forced to reimpose a zone-based lockdown earlier this month, a few days after businesses were allowed to resume.

India

Mumbai revised its official death toll from the coronavirus, adding 862 fatalities in India’s epicenter of the outbreak.

In a statement late Tuesday, the local government cited discrepancies in records filed from various counting centers, which mushroomed as the pandemic spread. All of these cases correctly recorded COVID-19 as the cause of death but weren’t integrated into the master database, it said.

Total COVID-19 deaths crossed 10,000-mark in India on Wednesday, reaching 11,903, as total cases rose to 354,065, said the latest data released by the federal health ministry a short while ago. 

India entered "Lockdown 5.0," or the fifth phase of the nationwide lockdown on June 1, with gradual relaxation of restrictions.

A dog leaps to catch a ball at New Brighton Beach in Christchurch, New Zealand, June 9, 2020. (MARK BAKER / AP)

Indonesia

Indonesia reported 1,031 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday taking the total to 41,431 and overtaking Singapore with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. 

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said 45 more deaths were reported on Wednesday, taking the total number of fatalities to 2,276. Indonesia has the highest coronavirus death toll in East Asia outside of China.

Iran

Iran on Wednesday reported 2,612 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed infections in the country to 195,051, official IRNA news agency reported.

Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said during the daily update that 120 people died overnight, raising the death toll of the virus to 9,185.

Iran topped the list in terms of confirmed cases in the Middle East again on June 7 after Turkey posed slowing down increases while the numbers remarkably rebounded in Iran amid easing of restrictions.

READ MORE: Australian states move to ease social curbs despite new cases

Workers at the Sion Medical factory, the country's first production line of N95 masks, produce masks at a factory in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on June 15 2020. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)

Israel

Israel approved on Tuesday the use of Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 infection.

Remdesivir is the first drug shown to be effective against the novel coronavirus in human trials, with South Korea, Japan, India, the United States and Singapore having already approved it for emergency use.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said his cabinet agreed to the health minister’s request to accept Gilead’s donation of remdesivir and that it would be used to treat moderately and critically ill patients.

Israel's Ministry of Health reported 258 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest since April 23, bringing the total to 19,495.

According to the ministry, the number of death cases remained 302, while the number of patients in serious condition increased from 35 to 39.

New Zealand

New Zealand on Wednesday said the defence force will now oversee the country's quarantine facilities and strengthen border requirements, after a slip up allowed two people with coronavirus to move around the country. 

New Zealand on Tuesday lost its COVID-free status when two women who had been given permission to leave quarantine early on compassionate grounds after arriving from Britain tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was appointing the Assistant Chief of Defence, Air Commodore Digby Webb, to oversee all quarantine and to manage isolation facilities, including the processes of exiting people from these facilities. 

She added that an audit would be done to make sure all processes in place are followed and any changes needed can be made to further strengthen the border facilities.

Palestine

On Tuesday, Palestine announced that 11 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the total number of infection cases up to 700 while the death toll stood at five with a total of 570 cases recovering from the virus.

Saudi Arabia

As the third worst-hit country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has been suffering the fastest rises in new cases in the region for dozens of days.

After registering over 3,000 new positive cases of COVID-19 for eight days in a row, Saudi Arabia has seen daily new infections over 4,000 for the third consecutive day on Tuesday.

It registered 4,267 new COVID-19 cases, raising the tally of infections in the kingdom to 136,315.

The death toll increased to 1,052 after 41 new fatalities were added, and the total recoveries stood at 89,540.

People sit at a cafe in a mall in the Saudi capital Riyadh on June 4, 2020, after it reopened following the easing of some restrictions put in place by the authorities in a bid to stem the spead of the novel coronavirus. (FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)

South Korea

South Korea reported 43 more cases of COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Wednesday local time, raising the total number of infections to 12,198.

The daily caseload rose above 40 in four days. Of the new cases, 12 were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,371.

Small cluster infections were still found linked to religious gatherings, a health product retailer, distribution centers, call centers and indoor sports facilities in the metropolitan area.

One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 279. The total fatality rate stood at 2.29 percent.

ALSO READ: Singapore to remove most virus restrictions from Friday

The Philippines

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surge to 27,238 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 457 more infections on Wednesday.

The DOH said in its bulletin that the number of recoveries further climbed to 6,820 after 268 more patients have survived the disease.

The death toll also increased to 1,108 after five more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, the DOH added.

Turkey

Turkey reported 1,467 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the tally to 181,298, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

This marked the sixth consecutive day with over 1,000 new cases in Turkey, which had witnessed three-digit daily rises for nearly two weeks.

And 17 more deaths were recorded, pushing the death toll to 4,842, Koca said, adding the total recoveries rose by 1,015 to 153,379 in the country.

UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced 346 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 42,982 and death toll to 293.

The ministry added that 732 more patients made full recovery from the virus, taking the tally of the UAE's recoveries to 28,861.

Kuwait 

Kuwait on Wednesday reported 575 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 37,533 and the death toll to 306, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The new cases included 317 Kuwaiti nationals and 258 residents of other nationalities, the statement said.

Currently, 8,331 patients are receiving treatment, including 190 in ICU, according to the statement.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 690 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 28,896.

Lebanon

Lebanon's number of COVID-19 infections increased on Wednesday by 16 cases to 1,489 while the death toll remained unchanged at 32, the National News Agency reported.

The number of infections among new arrivals to the country reached 13 while residents' infections are three only.

Japan

A clinical trail of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 developed by a medical startup will start on June 30 in Japan, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura announced on Wednesday, saying it will be the first clinical test on humans in the country.

In April this year, the prefectural and municipal governments of Osaka, which operate universities and hospitals in the western Japan prefecture, agreed with Anges Inc., a medical startup related to Osaka University to cooperate on research and development of vaccines for COVID-19.

Yoshimura told a press conference that the trial will begin from June 30, initially targeting 20 to 30 medical workers at Osaka City University Hospital.

If safety of the vaccine can be confirmed, the test will expand to hundreds of people by October, he added.

According to Yoshimura, it is possible to produce the vaccine for 200,000 people by the end of this year and they aim to apply for state approval between spring and fall of next year.

According to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities on Wednesday, the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 43 to reach 17,686, which excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands at 948, according to the health ministry, with the figure including those from the cruise ship. 

Nepal 

With a record-high single-day spike in COVID-19 cases in Nepal on Wednesday, the total number of cases has crossed 7,000, a senior official of Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population said.

Nepal also reported one new death as the total deaths from the pandemic reached 20 in the Himalayan country.

Jageshwor Gautam, spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population said at a regular press briefing on Wednesday that 586 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours as the total counts reached 7,177.

It was the first time that Nepal saw more than 500 cases in a single day. The Himalayan country has seen a rapid rise of cases since May.

Uzbekistan 

Uzbekistan will introduce an open-skies regime at 10 airports beginning August 1 to boost foreign tourist arrivals, the Ministry of Transport said Wednesday.

The new regime will allow all foreign airlines to fly from their own countries to Uzbekistan and fly on to a further destination in a third country. The regime is valid for two years and may be extended later

Under the open-skies regime, foreign airlines can perform international passenger flights to designated Uzbek airports without restrictions on the number of flights.

The 10 designated airports are at Karshi, Nukus, Termez, Bukhara, Navoi and Urgench among other sites.

The new rules also include international cargo flights.

Iraq

The Iraqi Health Ministry on Wednesday recorded 1,554 COVID-19 cases, the highest daily increase since the outbreak of the disease in the country, bringing the total nationwide infections to 24,254.

The new cases included 568 in the capital Baghdad, 152 in Sulaimaniyah, 140 in Maysan, 115 in Diwaniyah, while the remaining cases were registered in the other provinces, the ministry said in a statement.

The statement also reported 61 deaths during the day, in the highest single-day rise so far, bringing the death toll in the country to 773, while 10,770 patients have recovered.

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