Two electric rickshaw drivers wait for customers at the roadside in Amritsar, India on July 24, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)
MELBOURNE / DUBAI / ANKARA / HANOI / SEOUL - India reported over 49,000 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus with 740 new deaths on Friday, marking the biggest daily surge in cases even as officials in some states complained of shortages of vital drugs for those hospitalized.
As the number of cases neared 1.3 million in India, local authorities scrambled to procure generic versions of remdesivir, the drug that has shown promise in clinical trials in treating severely-ill patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“Demand is huge as cases are rising rapidly in the state,” said a senior drug regulatory official in the western state of Maharashtra. “Supplies of the drug are limited, but companies have assured us they will provide more in a week.”
India has reported 30,601 deaths from the disease, with more than 40 percent of these deaths coming from Maharashtra state.
The western state is the worst-affected, having recorded nearly 350,000 cases, of which almost 60 percent were reported in the country’s financial capital, Mumbai, and its satellite towns.
Remdesivir, made by the US drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc, has been in high demand globally amid the pandemic, and Gilead in May and June authorized six Indian companies, and three foreign ones, to make and sell generic versions of the drug in 127 developing nations.
Only three of these firms with operations in India - Hetero Labs Ltd, Cipla and Mylan NV have so far been able to start supplying. Others are either awaiting regulatory approvals or still setting up production.
Several hospitals have struggled to get the drug as patient numbers increased in a county whose public health system is one of the world’s most poorly-funded. India has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases after the United States and Brazil.
Drug industry and government officials in the country said that they are doing their best.
India's health ministry Friday morning said 740 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 49,310 positive cases, were repo
rted during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 30,601 and total cases to 1,287,945.
This is the highest single day spike in the number of fresh positive COVID-19 cases in the country so far.
Local tourists wearing face masks leave a pier after returning from a cruise trip in the waters of Ha Long Bay in northeastern province of Quang Ninh on May 16, 2020. (MANA VATSYAYANA / AFP)
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued a directive to ban the Southeast Asian country’s wildlife trade with immediate effect in order to reduce the risk of new pandemics, a government statement said.
The directive bans imports of live wild animals and wildlife products, eliminates wildlife markets, and enforce prohibitions on illegal hunting and trading of wild animals, including online sales, according to the statement issued late on Thursday.
Vietnam is an important destination in the Asian region for illegal wildlife products such as pangolin scales and elephant ivory. There have also been seizures of rhino horns, which is believed to have medicinal value.
Vietnam’s coastal Da Nang City has quarantined more than 50 people who came into contact with a man who had tested positive for novel coronavirus, news website VnExpress reported, citing the deputy head of the city’s health department.
The potential case could break Vietnam’s 99th day streak of having no new local community transmissions. The country had reported 412 cases and zero fatality.
Restrictions were reintroduced in Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales on Friday as authorities battle to control fresh coronavirus clusters that have emerged in Sydney over the last several days.
Group bookings at restaurants, cafes and clubs will be limited to 10 people and patrons inside a venue will be capped to 300 in rules that take effect amid a growing cluster stemming from a Thai restaurant in suburban Sydney.
Wedding and corporate events will be limited to 150 people with strict social distancing rules including a ban on singing, dancing and mingling, while only 100 can attend funerals and places of worship. Australia has so far escaped the high COVID-19 casualty numbers of other nations, with just over 13,000 infections and 133 deaths from the virus as of Thursday.
But a spike in community-transmitted cases in its two most populous states in recent weeks has alarmed authorities.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews reported six deaths, all of them connected to aged-care facilities, and 300 new cases on Friday. That took total deaths in the state to 55.
Bangladesh reported over 2,500 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, as the total number of infections rose to nearly 219,000 and the death toll reached 2,836.
Senior Health Ministry official Nasima Sultana said in a briefing that 2,548 new COVID-19 positive cases and 35 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 1,761 within one day to 95,418, with the death toll adding by 89 to 4,665, the Health Ministry said on Friday.
According to the ministry, 1,781 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 53,945.
The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.
Iran's confirmed COVID-19 cases surged to 284,034 on Thursday after 2,621 new infections were confirmed, while the death toll climbed to 15,074 after 221 more deaths were added overnight.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the new surge in COVID-19 infections on the "insufficient attention" paid to the health protocols by some groups of people.
Evaluation of the recent resurgence of the cases suggested that it was not caused by the reopening of economic and social activities, Rouhani told a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus.
He said that the use of face masks in public and indoor or high-risk places, as well as a ban on gatherings, wedding ceremonies, funerals and parties would be effective ways to deal with the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran.
Iraq, the pandemic continued its resurgence as the total number of COVID-19 infections surged to 102,226, after 2,361 new cases were recorded. The death toll reached 4,122 with the addition of 80 more fatalities.
Despite the resurgence, Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority on Thursday resumed regular international flights at the airports of Baghdad, Basra and Najaf.
It said that Erbil and Sulaimaniyah international airports, in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, did not resume the flights, because they were not ready yet to apply the preventive health measures as required.
In Israel, the Health Ministry reported 1,897 new cases of coronavirus infection, leading the total infections in the country to 57,982. The death toll rose to 442, after 12 more fatalities were recorded.
The confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 726 to reach 28,977 as of Friday evening, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying there is no need to declare a state of emergency again for the time being.
The number excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo.
The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands at a total of 1,007 people, including 13 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Kuwait will start the third-phase plan of restoring normal life on July 28. The curfew hours will be further reduced during the third phase, while labor capacity will increase to no more than 50 percent, visits to social care homes will be allowed, and hotels and resorts will be allowed to reopen.
Iranians, wearing protective face masks, ride their motorcycles in the capital Tehran on July 22, 2020, during the COVID-19 epidemic. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)
The Lao Ministry of Health reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday for the first time in 102 days.
The new case is a South Korean man, who is a staff of a hydropower project in Laos, the Lao Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday.
In Lebanon, the tally of COVID-19 infections increased on Thursday by 156 cases to 3,260, while the death toll remained at 43.
Malaysia reported another 21 new COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry said on Friday, bringing the national total to 8,861.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that five of the cases are imported and 16 are local transmissions.
Mongolia has reported one new case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking its total tally to 288, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Friday.
"A total of 709 tests for COVID-19 were conducted across the country yesterday and one of them was positive," the NCCD's head Dulmaa Nyamkhuu told a daily press conference.
New Zealand reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday, with the number of active cases in the country reaching 21, all in managed isolation facilities, according to the Ministry of Health.
Friday's case was a man in his 40s who travelled to New Zealand from Africa.
Oman recorded 1,099 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total infections to 72,646, including 355 deaths and 51,349 recoveries.
Qatar reported 373 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 108,244, including 164 deaths and 105,018 recoveries.
Saudi Arabia, the Health Ministry on Thursday called on the public to follow anti-coronavirus precautions during the upcoming Eid al-Adha, as the kingdom's tally of infections surged to 260,394, after 2,238 new cases were confirmed.
Mohammed Al Abdulaali, the ministry's spokesman, said the death toll in the country rose to 2,635 with the addition of 24 more deaths, while the total recoveries increased to 213,490 after 3,092 more patients recovered.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 354 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 49,098.
Of the new cases, five are imported cases, eight are community cases and the rest are linked with the dormitories of foreign workers.
Among them, 98 percent are linked to known clusters, while the rest are pending contact tracing.
South Korea is likely to report confirmed coronavirus cases of more than 100 when the announcing the daily tally tomorrow, Kwon Jun-wook, deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says at a briefing.
The expected increase may be due to South Korean construction workers returning from virus-hit Iraq and more cases from Russian ship in Busan port, the official said.
South Korea reported 41 more cases of the COVID-19 as of 0:00 a.m. Friday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 13,979.
South Korea will will allow spectators to attend baseball games from July 26. Fans, limited to 10% of the stadium’s capacity, will be required to wear masks, sit at least a seat apart and prohibited from eating food in the stands.
People wearing face masks take selfies in front of the Harbour Bridge in Sydney on July 22, 2020. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)
Sri Lankan authorities on Friday launched a massive manhunt to catch an inmate who was infected with COVID-19 and had escaped from a hospital on the outskirts of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, the police said.
The 41-year-old patient was an inmate at the Kandakadu Drug Rehabilitation Center in the north central part of the country and he was transferred to the National Infectious Disease Hospital on the outskirts of Colombo as he tested positive for the COVID-19 and needed urgent treatment.
Thailand confirms ten new cases on Friday, all found in state quarantine after returning from Sudan, Pakistan, Germany, the Netherlands and the US according to Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesman for the COVID-19 center.
The Ministry of Health conducted random tests on about 150,000 people nationwide and 2.5 people out of every 1,000 tested positive.
Turkey's total COVID-19 cases increased by 913 on Thursday to 223,315, while the death toll went up by 18 to 5,563, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
A total of 1,151 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, raising the total recoveries to 206,365 in Turkey since the outbreak, Koca said.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced 254 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 57,988, including 50,848 recoveries. The death toll in the UAE remained unchanged from the previous day's 342.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen's government-controlled provinces increased to 1,654 on Thursday, as 14 new cases were confirmed.
The Yemeni Health Ministry said in a brief press statement that during the past 24 hours, the number of recoveries in the government-controlled areas increased to 762 since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on April 10.
Armenia on Friday reported 451 new COVID-19 cases in the past day, bringing its total to 36,613, according to the country's National Center for Disease Control.
Data from the center showed that 490 more patients have recovered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 25,734.
Meanwhile, four people died in the period, raising the death toll to 692.
Georgia confirmed 19 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing its total to 1,104.
Eight of the 19 new cases are from Tbilisi, five from the town of Gardabani, two are imported, and one is a medical personnel, while the source of infection in the remaining three individuals is unidentified, the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) said.
As of Friday, 912 of the 1,104 patients have recovered, while 16 have died, the center said.
According to Georgia's aviation authority, domestic flights started to resume in the country on Friday after a four-month shutdown.
Public Health Ministry of Afghanistan has registered 60 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, totaling the number of patients infected with the disease to 35,988 in the country, said a ministry's statement released Friday.
According to the statement, 14 new deaths were recorded, bringing the number of COVID-19 related deaths to 1,225 since outbreak of the pandemic in February in the country.
A total of 52 more patients have recovered, bringing the number of recovery to 24,537 in Afghanistan, the statement added.
The public health ministry on Thursday reported 201 cases of COVID-19 within 24 hours.
The Lao Ministry of Health reported one new COVID-19 case on Friday for the first time after 102 days.
Director of the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology under Lao Ministry of Health, Phonepadith Sangxayalath, told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Friday that the new case is a South Korean man, who is a staff of a hydropower project in Laos.
HONG KONG NEWS