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Monday, July 13, 2020, 22:34
Thailand tightens borders over fears of 2nd wave of coronavirus
By Agencies
Monday, July 13, 2020, 22:34 By Agencies

A woman and a boy wearing face masks walk past Harrods' mascot bears wearing face masks in a shopping mall in Bangkok on July 10, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

BEIRUT / MANILA / THIMPHU / DUBAI / RAMALLAH / RIYADH / JERUSALEM / MUSCAT / AMMAN / COLOMBO / BEIRUT /  SYDNEY / SEOUL / BANGKOK - Thailand ordered security stepped up at its land borders on Monday after concerns surged over a possible second wave of coronavirus infections, following the arrests of thousands of illegal migrants in the past month.

Since the start of June, authorities have arrested 3,000 migrant workers for overland entry attempts, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for Thailand’s task force on the disease.

Taweesin also raised concern about weak regulation for foreign arrivals by air, after two such visitors tested positive, with one breaking quarantine rules.

With no locally transmitted case reported for more than six weeks, Thailand’s virus tally since January stands at 3,220 infections and 58 deaths.

Air crew and the families of foreign diplomats are among the few groups of foreigners allowed into the country since March, on condition of spending 14 days in quarantine.

Japan

The Tokyo metropolitan government confirmed 119 new COVID-19 infections in the capital on Monday with the number of daily cases dropping below the 200-mark for the first time in five days.

The latest figure comes on the heels of 206 cases recorded in Tokyo the previous day, which marked a prolonged period of daily cases rising above 200, with a record 243 single-day number of COVID-19 infections confirmed on Friday.

New outbreak clusters tied to a childcare center, where around 22 children and teachers were confirmed to have the virus, and a theater house where 30 people including actors and guests tested positive, were reported in Tokyo over the weekend, according to domestic media.

New daily infections in Japan have mostly been tied to the Tokyo area, but the surrounding prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba are also starting to see increased reports of Covid-19. Government officials have avoided calling for broader restrictions in response to the spread, saying the issue is localized and the medical system is not under strain. Speaking in Hokkaido on Saturday, Chief Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the infections a “Tokyo problem,” according to Japanese media.

The infections in the broader Tokyo area have become a point of increased concern as new clusters emerge, and as the government is set to begin a campaign to subsidize domestic travel. The effort to spark economic activity could bring increased numbers of city dwellers to the countryside, and has been criticized on social media as residents worry that they’ll bring an increased risk of infection.

Afghanistan

The Afghan Ministry of Public Health on Monday confirmed 154 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of patients in the country to 34,605.

A total of 883 tests were conducted within the past 24 hours, and 154 were positive in 14 provinces out of 34 Afghan provinces, the ministry said in a statement.

Twenty-eight patients died within the period, taking the death toll to 1,038, the statement added.

Police patrol the grounds of a public housing estate which is undergoing a forced lockdown in Melbourne on July 10, 2020. (WILLIAM WEST / AFP)

Australia

Australia’s most populous state reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with a growing cluster at a pub used by freight drivers travelling the country adding to fears of a second wave of the virus.

The new cases in New South Wales come after neighbouring Victoria state last week forced about 5 million people back into lockdown after a surge of new coronavirus cases.

Australia has avoided the high COVID-19 casualty numbers of other nations with swift and strict measures, recording fewer than 10,000 coronavirus cases in total, or about a sixth of the daily cases seen in the United States in recent days.

However, authorities are worried about rising cases of community transmission.

This accounted for 8 of the 14 new cases in New South Wales in the last 24 hours, while the rest were people who have returned from overseas and are already in hotel quarantine or have returned from Victoria.

The bulk of these community transmission cases were people who recently visited a pub in southwest Sydney, the Crossroads Hotel, taking the cluster to 13 in all.

In Victoria state, authorities on Monday reported 177 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the eighth consecutive day of triple digit rises in COVID-19 cases, but down from 273 cases the previous day.

“It may not be our peak yet,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne. “I would like to see a week of decreasing numbers.”

Australia’s Minister for Health Greg Hunt said 1,000 military personnel had been dispatched to help state officials curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Scientists, meanwhile, have begun trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed at the University of Queensland.

Volunteers were due to receive the first vaccine dose on Monday morning. Preliminary results of the trial are expected to be released by the end of September, the university said.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh reported an additional 3,099 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, Nasima Sultana, a senior Health Ministry official said in a briefing in Dhaka. 

In addition, she confirmed 39 new COVID-19-related deaths across the country, bringing the confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 2,391.

Bhutan

Bhutan's Ministry of Health reported Monday that 76 of the country's total 82 positive COVID-19 patients have been declared recovered as of Sunday, pushing the recovery rate to over 90 percent.

This brings the total active COVID-19 positive cases in the country to just six. Bhutan has not seen a single death from COVID-19.

No positive case was recorded within the past 24 hours in the country, as per the ministry. On Friday two females returning from the Middle East have tested positive for the COVID-19.

The government has opened schools for classes X and XII students and those in colleges and institutes across the country since July 1. This was one of the initiatives to return to a new normal following two months of school closure, while the rest of the students are being given online lessons.

The ministry has been cautioning peoples, especially those living in southern belt, to practise physical distancing and other measures to stay safe. 

Indonesia

Indonesian President Joko Widodo wants to ramp up coronavirus testing by 50 percent to 30,000 daily as infections exceeded 76,000 in Southeast Asia’s most populous nation.

Jokowi, as the president is known, instructed his ministers on Monday to boost the nationwide testing capacity from a previous target of 20,000 a day by opening more laboratories especially in 8 areas that include the capital region of Jakarta and neighboring West and East Java.

Widodo has predicted that the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country would occur in August or September, 2020.

"If we look at the figures, the peak is estimated to be in August or September. This is the last prediction," the president told media at the Merdeka Palace here on Monday.

Indonesia reported 1,282 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total count to 76,981, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a televised news briefing.

Deaths from the COVID-19 rose by 50 on Monday, he said, bringing the total in the Southeast Asian nation to 3,656, the highest in East Asia outside China.

India

India's federal health ministry Monday morning said 500 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 28,701 positive cases, were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 23,174 and total cases to 878,254.

This is said to be the highest single day spike in the number of fresh cases in the country so far.

"As on 8:00 am (local time) Monday, 23,174 deaths related to novel coronavirus have been recorded in the country," reads information released by the ministry.

On Sunday morning the number of COVID-19 cases in the country was 849,553, and the death toll 22,674.

According to ministry officials, so far 553,471 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.

"The number of active cases in the country right now is 301,609," reads the information.

Presently the country has entered Unlock 2.0 phase, though restrictions remain in full force inside the COVID-19 Containment Zones. Commercial international flights to and from India are suspended until July 31.

Last week, the government of Uttar Pradesh, the country's biggest state in terms of population, had decided to impose a weekend lockdown from Friday night till Monday morning, to cut the chain of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The state decided Monday it would continue with similar lockdowns every weekend.

ALSO READ: Thailand plans Nov human testing for COVID-19 vaccine

Iran

Iran's confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 259,652 on Monday after an overnight registration of 2,349 new infections, official IRNA news agency reported.

At her daily briefing, Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said the new cases include 1,581 in hospital.

Israel

The number of coronavirus cases in Israel rose to 38,670 on Sunday, with 1,207 new cases registered, the state's Ministry of Health said.

The ministry also reported eight new death cases, bringing the total number of victims to 362.

The number of patients in serious condition increased from 134 to 151, out of 514 patients currently hospitalized.

The number of recoveries rose to 19,008, with 94 new recoveries, while the number of active cases reached a record 19,300.

Jordan

King Abdullah II of Jordan on Sunday said the country has succeeded in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, and now it is time to focus on the economy.

The Jordanian leader made the remarks at a meeting with prominent figures from various governorates, where he emphasized the economic recovery, poverty, and unemployment as the key challenges ahead.

The king reaffirmed that Jordan would come out stronger after COVID-19, and the country enjoys the potential to excel in the pharmaceutical, advanced agricultural, and medical supplies manufacturing sectors despite the challenges.

Jordan's king stressed the importance of coordination among various public and private stakeholders to reach effective outcomes in terms of agricultural and industrial production.

The Jordanian Health Ministry on Sunday reported three new COVID-19 cases, increasing the tally to 1,179.

Travelers push their luggage at the departure terminal of the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, July 1, 2020. (BILAL HUSSEIN / AP)


Kazakhstan 

Kazakhstan will extend its second coronavirus lockdown by two weeks until the end of July, and will once again offer financial aid to those who have lost their source of income, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Monday.

Kazakhstan, which reported explosive growth in fresh COVID-19 and pneumonia cases after lifting restrictions in May, entered a second, albeit less stringent, lockdown on July 5 in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

The oil-rich Central Asian nation has confirmed almost 60,000 cases of the disease with 375 deaths and reported shortages of hospital beds and popular medicines.

Kuwait

Kuwait on Monday reported 614 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 55,508 and the death toll to 393, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Currently, 9,759 patients are receiving treatment, including 148 in ICU, the statement added.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 746 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 45,356.

Kyrgyzstan 

Kyrgyzstan on Monday reported 488 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total cases in the country to 11,117, a public health official said.

Out of the 1,456 tests conducted in the country over the last 24 hours, 265 out of the new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Bishkek, bringing the total number in the capital city to 5,206, and the remaining 223 are in other parts of the country, said Ainura Akmatova, head of the public health care department of the country's Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, 15 patients have died in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 147, said Akmatova, adding that so far 668 patients are being treated in hospitals, with 121 in critical condition and 21 in intensive care.

Lebanon

Lebanon recorded on Sunday the highest 166 daily new COVID-19 infections, taking the total number in the country to 2,344, the National News Agency reported. Earlier in the day, a Lebanese waste management company is quarantining 133 Syrian workers who tested positive for the coronavirus, the company manager said on Sunday.

Lebanon has recorded 36 deaths from the coronavirus since February.

Most of the new cases were at what he described as “a big cleaning company”, an apparent reference to waste management firm RAMCO, which collects garbage across Lebanon.

RAMCO said it was moving infected workers to quarantine.

Malaysia

Malaysia reported seven new COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry said on Monday, bringing the national total to 8,725.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement that six of the new infections are imported and the other one is a local transmission.

Oman

The Omani ministry of health announced on Sunday 1,318 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total confirmed number of the cases in the country to 56,015.

Nine new fatalities were reported, bringing the death toll to 257, while the tally of recovered cases rose by 843 to 36,098, according to the ministry statement.

The Omani government decided on Sunday to reduce the attendance rate of employees in the government sectors to only 30 percent, due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the Sultanate. 

Palestine

Palestine recorded on Sunday two new COVID-19 deaths in the West Bank, bringing the death toll to 39 since March 5, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

The ministry said in an emailed press statement that two women, aged 65 and 71, from the southern West Bank district of Hebron, died from the deadly coronavirus.

A Sri Lankan municipal health worker takes a blood sample to test for COVID-19 antibodies in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 10, 2020. (ERANGA JAYAWARDENA / AP)

Sri Lankan

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday informed the ruling political party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, to temporarily halt election rallies after a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases from a drug rehabilitation center in Sri Lanka's north-central province. Following the prime minister's announcement, the ruling party said in a statement that all election rallies to be held on July 13, 14 and 15 have been canceled until further notice to comply with health guidelines. 

South Korea

One in three South Korean patients seriously ill with COVID-19 showed an improvement in their condition after being given Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral remdesivir, health authorities said.

More research was needed to determine if the improvement was attributable to the drug or other factors such as patients’ immunity and other therapies, they said.

Remdesivir has been at the forefront of the global battle against COVID-19 after the intravenously administered medicine helped shorten hospital recovery times in a U.S. clinical trial.

Several countries including South Korea have added the drug to the list of treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. There is no approved vaccine for it.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Saturday results from a first group of 27 patients given remdesivir in different hospitals.

Nine of the patients showed an improvement in their condition, 15 showed no change, and three worsened, KCDC deputy director Kwon Jun-wook told a briefing.

The result had yet to be compared with a control group and more analysis was needed to conclude remdesivir’s benefit, Kwon said.

South Korea has been battling small but persistent outbreaks of the new coronavirus, with 62 new cases reported as of Sunday, bringing the country’s total to 13,479 cases with 289 deaths.

READ MORE: Philippines says still has monetary space after easing steps


People wearing protective face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk at a pedestrian crossing July 10, 2020, in Tokyo. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP)

The Philippines

The Philippines’ health ministry on Monday reported 65 more novel coronavirus deaths and 836 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have reached 1,599, while confirmed infections rose to 57,006, more than triple when President Rodrigo Duterte eased the quarantine measures in the capital in June to revive the economy.

Earlier on Monday, in an announcement delayed from Sunday, the country posted its biggest daily rise in deaths due to the virus at 162.

Turkey

Turkey's COVID-19 cases increased by 1,012 on Sunday, while the total cases surged to 212,993, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Meanwhile, 19 people died in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 5,363, the minister tweeted.

Turkish health professionals conducted 45,232 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests to 3,975,455, he added.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia registered on Sunday 2,779 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the kingdom to 232,259, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In the past 24 hours, 1,742 individuals recovered from the virus, increasing the total recoveries to 167,138, while 42 died from the coronavirus, raising the death toll in the kingdom to 2,223.  

Syria

Three Syrians died on Monday from the COVID-19 infection, raising the death toll to 19, the state news agency SANA reported.

Meanwhile, the health ministry reported 23 new coronavirus cases in the government-controlled areas, bringing the overall number of infections to 417, including 136 recoveries.

UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday announced 401 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 54,854.

The UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention said in a statement the new cases, of many nationalities, are in a stable condition and receiving medical treatment.

And 492 more patients have recovered from the virus, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 45,140, according to the ministry.

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