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Friday, August 07, 2020, 23:04
India suffers record jump in COVID-19 cases to pass 2m
By Agencies
Friday, August 07, 2020, 23:04 By Agencies

Indians wearing face masks walk in a warehouse in Jammu, India, July 29, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)

JERUSALEM / RAMALLAH / MUSCAT / HANOI / CANBERRA / YEREVAN - India, the country hardest hit in Asia by the coronavirus pandemic, reported on Friday a record daily jump in infections, taking its total number of cases over two million.

It is the third nation to pass that unwanted milestone, lagging behind only the United States and Brazil.

With infections spreading further to smaller towns and rural areas, experts say the epidemic in India is likely to be months away from hitting its peak, putting more strain on an already overburdened healthcare system.

And authorities are having to deal with multiple outbreaks across a nation of 1.3 billion people.

“A country of India’s size and diversity has multiple epidemics in different phases,” said Rajib Dasgupta, head of the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

The health ministry said on Friday there were 62,538 new infections, taking the country’s total to 2.03 million.

India has been posting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June, but experts say its testing rate at 16,035 per million people is far too low.

Still, the government has taken some solace from the relatively low death rate, at about 2 percent, with 41,585 deaths so far, though that figure will be understated as only deaths of people who have been tested for the virus are counted.

Thailand

Thailand will allow schools to fully reopen from next Thursday after the Southeast Asian nation went without a local transmission of coronavirus for more than two months.

All schools will be allowed to function without any capacity limits or social distancing rules, according to Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan. The country’s COVID-19 center has agreed on the easing of rules, and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha is expected to approve the step on Monday, Nataphol said.

Since early July, Thai public schools were allowed to partially reopen as coronavirus cases dwindled. But schools were required to ensure a distance of 1.5 meter between students with per class-room capacity limited to 25. Some large schools required students to attend classes on alternate days to avoid overcrowding.

Thailand hasn’t reported a single case of locally transmitted virus since May 26 and has been under the state of emergency since late March. The country reported 15 new infections on Friday, all found in state quarantine, taking the cumulative tally to 3,345, according to a spokesman for the COVID-19 center.

In this file photo taken on July 01, 2020, a waiter serves a tower of beer after the reopening of bars as restrictions to halt the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus disease are eased in Bangkok. (LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

Iraq

The Iraqi Health Ministry on Friday recorded 3,461 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily increase since the outbreak of the disease, while the ministry spokesman said that more than 90 percent of the infections were between mild to moderate.

The new cases brought the total nationwide infections to 144,064, as the ministry's health teams and institutions have used 17,517 testing kits across the country during the day, raising the total testing kits used so far to 1,110,258, the ministry said in a statement.

It also reported 75 fatalities during the day, raising the death toll to 5,236, while 2,172 more patients recovered in the day, bringing the total number of recoveries to 103,197.

The ministry spokesman Sayf al-Badr said in a statement that more than 90 percent of the cases are ranged between mild and moderate, criticizing some citizens who do not abide by the health preventive measures despite repeated calls by the health authorities.

As for the health ministry's policy in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, al-Badr pointed out "the ministry did not pursue the policy of herd immunity. Rather, it relied on a strategy for early detection and treatment of cases and a focus on health awareness in general."

Earlier, the health ministry frequently said the increase of COVID-19 infections was caused by lack of public compliance to the health instructions and stronger testing capacity with the increase of labs in Baghdad and other provinces.

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Iraq has been taking measures to contain the pandemic.

On July 26, Iraq's Higher Committee for Health and National Safety decided to extend the weekly full curfew from July 30 to Aug 9.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh's total cases rose to 252,502 with 2,851 new cases reported, and deaths from the virus increased to 3,333.

Senior Health Ministry official Nasima Sultana said in a briefing that "2,851 new COVID-19 positive cases and 27 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh."

The confirmed cases in Indonesia rose by 2,473 within one day to 121,226, with the death toll adding by 72 to 5,593, the health ministry said.

According to the ministry, 1,912 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 77,557.

People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus walk on a street in Tokyo, Aug, 4, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)

Japan

The Obon holiday period is synonymous with summer holidays, as many Japanese leave densely populated cities and travel to meet family in rural areas. But with national and local officials giving conflicting signals over the risk of travel as the period approaches, the holiday threatens to boost the spread of the pandemic, as cases continue to rise across the country.

A day before many were due to travel, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike made a belated call for residents to refrain from going to their hometowns or otherwise traveling. The advice conflicts with that of the national government, which has pointedly refrained from calling for curbs on traveling home for the holidays, even after virus cases hit daily records in many parts of the country.

With cases flaring in population centers nationwide, the government’s lack of direction against travel has been met with criticism. Some regions little touched by the virus have called on people not to return, fearing the specter of infected but possibly asymptomatic young people leaving cities and transmitting the disease to elderly relatives.

The Tokyo metropolitan government on Friday confirmed 462 new daily COVID-19 cases, falling just shy of its record of 472 confirmed cases on Aug. 2, with the capital's cumulative total reaching 15,107, the highest among Japan's 47 prefectures.

Vietnam

Vietnam’s fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak “has entered its peak period,” according to a posting on the goverment’s website, which cited Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The outbreak, which started in Danang July 25, has spread to 12 provinces and cities, according to the Ministry of Health.

The risk of community infection is “very high”, and requires more drastic measures and responsibilities of the entire political system, especially in the next two weeks in key areas, Phuc said as cited in the posting.

Phuc ordered cities and provincial authorities to apply appropriate measures to prevent the virus while at the same time minimizing negative impacts on economic activities and social life.

“Fast, and accurate testing is the key to stopping the spread of the infection,” Phuc said. The country is determined to control the infection rate at the lowest level.

Vietnam has reported 750 coronavirus infections, including 348 cases under treatment, and 10 deaths.

Israel

Israel's Ministry of Health reported 1,640 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total infections in the country to 79,559.

The death toll rose by 11 cases to 576, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 345 to 358, out of 777 patients currently hospitalized, the ministry said.

The total number of recoveries surged to 53,427 with 2,032 new recoveries, while that of active cases dropped to 25,554, it added.

Palestine

Palestine on Thursday announced 453 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total cases in the country to 17,434.

Out of the total cases, there are 8,922 active cases, including 12 being treated in intensive care units, of whom two were connected to the ventilators, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in its daily update.

It added that the death toll from the coronavirus reached 95 in Palestine, while the total recoveries reached 8,417.

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Oman

Oman on Thursday reported 427 new COVID-19 cases, including 210 non-Omanis, bringing the total infections in the country to 80,713.

The Omani Ministry of Health said in a statement that 1,107 more patients recovered, bringing the total recovered cases to 70,910.

It reported four new deaths from the coronavirus, taking the death toll in the country to 492. 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday a 12-percent drop in COVID-19 critical cases in the last two weeks.

Saudi Health Ministry Spokesperson Mohammed Abdulaali said during a press briefing that the number of critical cases in the kingdom has dropped by 12 percent in the past two weeks.

He attributed the drop to the commitment of the public to follow the precautionary measures, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He said that in the last 24 hours, 1,402 new confirmed cases were registered, increasing the total cases in Saudi Arabia to 284,226.

Out of the total cases, there are 34,082 active cases undergoing treatment, including 1,992 critical cases.

The death toll from the virus in the kingdom rose to 3,055 after 35 new deaths were added while 1,775 more patients recovered, raising the total recoveries to 247,089.

The United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday announced 239 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 61,845.

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

The ministry added that 354 more patients have recovered from the virus, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 55,739.

It also confirmed one more death, pushing the country's death toll to 354.

Qatar

The Qatari Health Ministry on Thursday announced 287 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 112,092, official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

Meanwhile, 292 more recovered from the virus, bringing the total recoveries to 108,831, while the death toll remained 178, according to a ministry statement quoted by QNA.

The ministry attributed the increase in coronavirus infections to gatherings and visits as well as ignoring the preventive measures such as staying at home and social distancing.

A total of 511,000 persons in Qatar have taken lab tests for COVID-19 so far.

Kuwait

Kuwait on Friday reported 682 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 70,727 and the death toll to 471, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Currently, 7,926 patients are receiving treatment, including 124 in ICU, the statement added.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 720 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 62,330.

On July 28, Kuwait started the third-phase plan of restoring normal life.

During the third phase, labor capacity will increase to no more than 50 percent and visits to social care homes will be allowed.

Cambodia

Cambodia decided Thursday to allow all cinemas and arts performing facilities across the kingdom to reopen following the temporary shutdown in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said a Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA) statement.

"To ease economic hardship as well as to encourage artists, producers, traders, cinema owners and arts performing venue owners to conserve and uplift national culture and arts, the government allows in principle to reopen the cinemas and arts performing venues," the statement said.

However, the owners must apply for a reopening license and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the MCFA on the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their establishments, it added.

Armenia

Armenia on Friday reported 166 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the national tally to 39,985, according to the National Center for Disease Control.

Data from the center showed that 452 more patients have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 32,008.

Meanwhile, five people have died from the virus in the period, raising the death toll to 777.

More than 172,994 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the country reported its first case on March 1, the center said.  

A bride and a bridegroom wearing protective face masks exchange kisses during a wedding ceremony in a church in the Saghmosavan village outside Yerevan on June 14, 2020, as the country tries to curb the spread of the COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. (KAREN MINASYAN / AFP)

Turkey

Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines announced on Friday that all passengers travelling from Turkey to Germany would be required to take COVID-19 tests.

"Our passengers who do not submit negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test results taken within 48 hours prior to arrival in Germany will not be allowed on board," the airline said on its Twitter account.

The carrier noted that the procedure would be put into effect starting Aug 9 on all its flights from Turkey to Germany.

Germany has recently lifted its travel warning to four Turkish provinces, Izmir, Mugla, Aydin and Antalya on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts where the coronavirus cases have been relatively low, according to press reports.

The total COVID-19 cases in Turkey reached 237,265 on Thursday with a death toll of 5,798, according to the latest official data.  

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Singapore

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 301 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 54,555.

Of the new cases, four are imported cases, four are community cases and the rest are linked with the dormitories of foreign workers.

Among the new cases, 98 percent are linked to known clusters, while the rest are pending contact tracing.

On Thursday, 263 more cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 48,031 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities, the ministry said.

There are currently 112 confirmed cases who are still in hospital. Of these, most are stable or improving, and none is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

The Philippines

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday that it will focus on the elimination of cluster infections after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country surged to 122,754 with 3,379 new cases.

The DOH said that the number of recoveries further rose to 66,852 after it reported 96 new recoveries.

The death toll also increased to 2,168 after 24 more patients died.

Metro Manila topped the five regions or provinces with the highest number of daily cases reported on Friday at 1,846, followed by Rizal province, east of Manila, 314; Laguna province, south of Manila, 276; Cavite province, south of Manila, 145; and Quezon province, south of Manila, 66.

Australia

Australia's COVID-19 cases surpassed 20,000 on Friday, as the country's prime minister said a vaccine for the virus should be shared with the world no matter which country finds it.

As of Friday evening, there have been 20,272 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 266 deaths from the virus.

It has taken less than a month for the number of cases to grow from 10,000 to 20,000.

By comparison, it took almost half a year for Australia to record its first 10,000 cases after confirming its first case on Jan. 25.

Of the 464 new cases, Victoria state confirmed 450 on Friday. New South Wales confirmed 11 new cases and South Australian authorities diagnosed three new cases.

All 11 of the deaths announced on Friday were in Victoria, seven of which were linked to aged care facilities. It takes the state's death toll to 181.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with the National Cabinet on Friday, which is composed of the prime minister and state and territory leaders, to discuss Australia's response to the coronavirus crisis.

Following the meeting, Morrison told reporters that Australia was in a good position to manufacture and supply a vaccine of COVID-19 when one is developed, and called on the world to share the vaccine, should any country find it.

"Australia is positioning itself well to take advantage and be in a position to be able to manufacture and supply vaccines should they be developed."

He declared that the vaccine will be shared with the world if it is discovered by Australia and urged every world leader to make the same commitment.

Morrison also said the national cabinet agreed to keep a cap on international arrivals in Australia in place for "months."

"We...agreed that international travel constraints on inbound arrivals to Australia should be continued in their current form," he said.

"We look forward to, at some point, that that might be able to be altered. But at this point, we are not going to put any further strain on the quarantine arrangements around the country and they will remain in place now for some months."

He was joined by Paul Kelly, Australia's acting Chief Medical Officer, who reminded Australians that COVID-19 is "not just a disease for the elderly."

"The vast majority of cases are in that young age group," Kelly said.

"What are we doing to engage with our youth to make sure that they know that this is not just a disease for elderly people. That might be where we're seeing the deaths and that that's very tragic. But young people are getting infected, young people are transmitting the virus and young people sometimes are also experiencing the severe end of the spectrum of the disease."  

South Korea

South Korea reported 20 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 14,519.

The daily caseload fell below 30 in four days, but it continued to rise in double digits due to small cluster infections and imported cases.

Of the new cases, 11 were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 2,531.

One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 303. The total fatality rate stood at 2.09 percent.

A total of 42 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 13,543. The total recovery rate was 93.28 percent.

Indonesia 

The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 2,473 within one day to 121,226, with the death toll adding by 72 to 5,593, the health ministry said on Friday.

According to the ministry, 1,912 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 77,557.

The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.

Specifically, within the past 24 hours, Jakarta recorded 665 new cases, East Java 378, Central Java 232, North Sumatra 216 and West Java 152.

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