A woman wearing a face mask crosses a street in Tokyo’s Ginza area on June 16, 2020. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
ISTANBUL / DUBAI / CAIRO / TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that the government will lift travel restrictions across prefectural borders as scheduled on Friday, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases has been in check.
Abe made the announcement at a meeting of the government's task force on COVID-19. "We're raising the level of social and economic activities further," he said. "There will be no restrictions on movement (beyond prefectures)."
The Japanese government lifted a nationwide state of emergency on May 25. However, people have been advised to avoid non-essential travels to Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures as well as the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, where the number of new cases remained relatively high.
Abe said all these restrictions will be removed from Friday. He also called on people to actively use a coronavirus contact-tracing smartphone app to be released on Friday.
According to a Jiji news agency reported, Abe also said the country would ease entry restrictions for people coming from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities on Thursday, the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 70 to reach 17,759, which excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands at a total of 950 people, according to the health ministry, with the figure including those from the cruise ship.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged an exemption from Australia's international travel ban for "essential business travel."
Morrison on Thursday reiterated Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham's declaration on Wednesday that borders would likely not be opened for tourists in 2020 but said that there would be exemptions for business people with appropriate quarantines.
Australians have been banned from travelling overseas since March 25 on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
The PM also on Thursday again called for all of Australia's domestic borders to be re-opened.
It comes after the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) on Thursday published a study that found border closures are costing nearly 5,000 jobs per week.
Turkey on Thursday made it compulsory for people to wear face masks when outside in the country’s largest cities of Istanbul and Ankara, as well as the northwestern city of Bursa, in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Turkish officials said this week they might have to adopt a harder line on social interactions after a jump in coronavirus infections, but said there were no plans to reverse an easing of lockdown restrictions aimed at reviving the economy.
Turkey reported 1,429 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the tally to 182,727, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. 19 more deaths were recorded, pushing up the death toll to 4,861, adding the total recoveries rose to 154,640.
This marked the seventh consecutive day with over 1,000 new cases in Turkey, which had witnessed three-digit daily rises for nearly two weeks.
Koca said that Turkey does not consider imposing stay-home orders despite the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
A student reads while sitting on a ledge at the Quadrangle of the University of Sydney, Australia May 2, 2017. (PHOTO / AP)
India’s federal government said it will spend 500 billion rupees (US$6.6 billion) on creating temporary jobs in villages for millions of migrant workers who left cities after a nationwide lockdown was put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.
India's federal health ministry Thursday morning said 334 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 12,881 positive cases, were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 12,237 and the total cases to 366,946.
This is the highest single day spike in terms of the number of new COVID-19 cases in the country so far.
Health minister of Indian capital city Delhi Satyendar Jain on Wednesday tested positive for COVID-19. "Today my COVID-19 test found to be positive," Jain wrote on twitter.
On Tuesday Jain tested negative for COVID-19. However, following the persistence of COVID-19 symptoms, he was tested again on Wednesday.
On Monday Jain was admitted to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH) after he complained of high fever and difficulty in breathing.
Indonesia reported 1,331 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, its, its biggest daily increase since the outbreak started locally, taking its total number of cases to 42,762.
Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said 63 more deaths were reported on Thursday, with total fatalities now at 2,339, the highest coronavirus death toll in East Asia outside of China.
Iran on Thursday reported 2,596 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 197,647, the state TV reported.
Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said during the daily update that 87 people died overnight, taking the total fatalities over the virus to 9,272.
The spokeswoman added that 1,344,599 lab tests for COVID-19 have been carried out in Iran as of Thursday.
In this file photo taken on Oct 18, 2018 Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev looks on as he arrives for a Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) at the European Council in Brussels. Kazakhstan's 79-year-old former president and official 'Leader of the Nation' Nursultan Nazarbayev has tested positive for the coronavirus, a statement on his official website said Thursday. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)
Kazakhstan's first president Nursultan Nazarbayev has tested positive for COVID-19 and is undergoing self-isolation, the press service of the first president announced in a statement on Thursday.
"Unfortunately, the last coronavirus test of the first president showed a positive result. There is no reason to worry. Nursultan Nazarbayev continues to work remotely," the statement said.
Also on Thursday, the Kazakh government announced enhanced quarantine measures in major cities and several regions, including the closure of shopping malls, parks and markets, the reopening of control and check-up points, and shorter working hours. The country's health authorities have also been urged to increase the number of available hospital beds and broaden testing.
Kazakhstan has seen a spike in coronavirus cases amid the resumption of its economic activities.
Kyrgyzstan's COVID-19 cases increased by 95 on Thursday, taking its total infection tally to 2,657.
Of the new confirmed cases, 14 are medical workers, taking the total number of contracted medical workers to 509, the country's deputy health minister Nurbolot Usenbaev told a news briefing.
He said that one more new virus related death was registered in the past day, raising the total number of fatalities to 31.
Mongolia's total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 201 after new tests found four additional positive cases, the country's National Center for Communicable Disease (NCCD) said Thursday.
"A total of 363 tests for COVID-19 were conducted across the country in the last 24 hours and four of them were positive," the NCCD's head Dulmaa Nyamkhuu said at a daily press conference.day spike in terms of the number of new COVID-19 cases in the country so far.
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk in the main Kizilay Square, in Ankara, Turkey, June 16, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)
New Zealand reported on Thursday one new case of COVID-19 who was a traveler from Pakistan, after two cases were reported earlier this week, the first in 24 days, with a health official apologizing for the cases that "have upset people and shaken people's confidence."
Thursday's case was a man in his 60s who was in quarantine after arriving from Pakistan on June 13 on Air NZ flight 124 from Melbourne. He showed symptoms on June 15.
The combined number of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 1,507, and there are now three active cases, according to the ministry.
The total fatalities of COVID-19 in Pakistan reached 3,093 on Thursday, as the number of positive cases reached 160,118, the federal health ministry said.
A total of 59,215 people have recovered from the disease so far, the official figures revealed, adding that the country has 1.9 percent mortality and 37.0 percent recovery rate of COVID-19 patients.
Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila announced on Wednesday that 45 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the West Bank in the past 24 hours, raising the total number in the Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem to 745 since March 5.
Al-Kaila also warned about an acute increase of COVID-19 cases in the Palestinian territories.
The Qatari health ministry on Wednesday announced 1,097 new infections of COVID-19, increasing the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 83,174.
As the third worst-hit country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia registered 4,919 new cases, raising the tally of infections in the kingdom to 141,234.
The death toll increased to 1,091 and the total recoveries stood at 91,662.
South Korea reported 59 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Thursday local time, raising the total number of infections to 12,257.
The daily caseload rose above 50 in six days. Of the new cases, eight were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,379.
Small cluster infections were still found linked to religious gatherings, nursing homes, indoor sports facilities, health product retailer and distribution centers.
One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 280. The total fatality rate stood at 2.28 percent.
A woman walks past a banner showing Saudi King Salman, right, and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, outside a mall in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, June 15, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)
Thailand on Thursday reported six new coronavirus infections and no new deaths, bringing its total to 3,141 confirmed cases, of which 58 were fatalities. The new cases were quarantined
Thais returning from Saudi Arabia and India, said Panprapa Yongtrakul, a spokeswoman for the government's COVID-19 Administration Centre.
Thailand has eased many of its restrictions and has recorded no new local transmissions for 24 days in a row, while 2,997 patients have recovered.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines rose to 27,799 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 562 more infections on Thursday.
The DOH said in its bulletin that the number of recoveries climbed to 7,090 after 270 more patients recovered.
The death toll also increased to 1,116 after nine more patients died, the DOH added.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday announced 382 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 43,364.
Meanwhile, 676 more patients have fully recovered from the virus, taking the tally of the UAE's recoveries to 29,537.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen's government-controlled provinces increased to 902 on Wednesday, after 17 new ones were confirmed.
Meanwhile, the number of recoveries in the government-controlled areas, including the southern port city of Aden, increased to 271 and the death toll climbed to 244, the Yemeni Health Ministry said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will put any further reopening of the country’s economy on pause after a renewed rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
After imposing a near-total shutdown from mid-March, Israel has reopened segments of its economy from late April, with the latest announcements this week on a restart to public train service and large cultural events of up to 250 people. However, cases have also begun to rise to nearly 300 new cases daily this week from as low as 5 new cases per day in late May.
“There’s no doubt that we need to stop the illness,” Netanyahu said at an event Thursday. “It’s rising back. We finished with opening the economy.”
There have been almost 20,000 confirmed cases in Israel, with more than 300 deaths.
Vietnam reported seven new cases of COVID-19 infection on Thursday, bringing its total confirmed cases to 342 with zero deaths so far, according to its Ministry of Health.
The latest cases are all Vietnamese men recently returning to the country from Kuwait on the same flight, said the ministry, noting that they have been quarantined upon arrival and are being treated in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.
Meanwhile as many as 325 patients in the country have recovered from the disease, according to the ministry.
Vietnam has recorded no local transmission for 63 straight days while there are nearly 6,300 people being quarantined and monitored in the country, said the health ministry.
Kuwait on Thursday reported 541 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 38,074 and the death toll to 308, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The new cases included 283 Kuwaiti nationals and 258 residents of other nationalities, the statement said.
Currently, 8,254 patients are receiving treatment, including 188 in ICU, according to the statement.
The ministry also announced the recovery of 616 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 29,512.
Active COVID-19 cases in Malaysia dropped below 500 on Thursday as the number of newly recovered cases continue to outpace new confirmed ones.
Malaysia reported 14 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the total cases to 8,529, the Health Ministry said. Three are imported cases and of the local transmissions, seven are foreign nationals and four are Malaysians.
HONG KONG NEWS