A barber wearing a face mask cuts a customer's hair in Wellington on May 14, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)
SYDNEY / DUBAI / SINGAPORE / KARACHI / WELLINGTON - New Zealand announced on Tuesday it was shutting down its largest city, Auckland, after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city, the first evidence of domestic transmission after being coronavirus-free for 102 days.
New Zealand’s successful fight against COVID-19 was hailed globally and the Pacific island nation of 5 million was seen as one of the safest places, as the pandemic raged globally.
Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the four cases were within one family in South Auckland. One person is in their 50s. They had no history of international travel. Family members have been tested and contact tracing is under way.
News of the cases sent panic across the country with media reporting people rushing to supermarkets to stock up, and businesses preparing to shut.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would move to level 3 restriction from noon on Wednesday as a “precautionary approach”, which would mean people should stay away from work and school, and gatherings or more than 10 people would again be restricted.
The restriction would be applied for three days until Friday, which she said would be enough time to assess the situation, gather information and make sure there was widespread contact tracing.
New Zealand is set to vote in a national election on Sept 19, in which Ardern is seen to winning comfortably, according to opinion polls, on the back of her handling of the pandemic.
But the return of the virus could backfire on the government.
Ardern said she has not given any consideration to the impact of the new restrictions on the polls at this stage.
“This will come as a shock to all New Zealanders who believed what we had been told – that we had got on top of this virus,” the main opposition National Party leader Judith Collins said in a statement.
Parliament is scheduled to be dissolved on Wednesday to make way for the election.
A police officer adjusts his mask in front of a goat meat butcher shop as they implement stricter quarantine measures to curb the spread of COVID19 at the border of the Bulacan province and Caloocan city, the Philippines, on Aug 10, 2020. (AARON FABILA / AP)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted Russia’s offer of its coronavirus vaccine, volunteering to take the first shot as a gesture of trust and gratitude.
“When the vaccine arrives, I will have myself injected in public. Experiment on me first, that’s fine with me,” Duterte said in a briefing. The Philippines is ready to assist Russia in clinical trials and local production, he said.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 139,538 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,987 new daily cases on Tuesday.
The death toll also increased to 2,312 after 19 more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, the DOH added.
Even as Metro Manila topped the five regions or provinces with the highest number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases reported on Tuesday with 1,510, it is unlikely to keep the capital and nearby areas under strict lockdown.
The government has run out of resources for aid to poor families, and has to allow people to go back to work, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said. The two-week lockdown ending Aug. 18 was declared to accommodate health workers who said hospitals were already getting overwhelmed, he said.
Australia’s second-most populous state reported a small rise in new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, boosting hopes that case numbers are stabilizing after a second wave forced authorities to send the city of Melbourne back into lockdown.
Victoria state detected 331 new COVID-19 infections and 19 deaths in the past 24 hours, compared with 322 infections and the same number of fatalities a day earlier, health officials said.
Daily infections in Victoria peaked at 725 on Aug 5 and have been trending lower in recent days, following the imposition of a hard lockdown in Melbourne on July 19.
Nationally, Australia has detected about 22,000 infections and 332 deaths from COVID-19, far fewer than many other developed nations.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh Tuesday reached 263,503 as nearly 3,000 new cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours.
Senior Health Ministry official Nasima Sultana said in a briefing Tuesday afternoon that "2,996 new COVID-19 positive cases and 33 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh."
"The number of confirmed infections in the country totaled 263,503 while fatalities stood at 3,471," she said.
Cambodia on Tuesday confirmed 15 new imported COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 266, said a health ministry's statement.
Thirteen of the new cases were foreigners who arrived in Cambodia on Sunday from the Philippines via a direct flight, while the other two cases were Cambodian females who landed in the kingdom on Sunday from the United States via a connecting flight in China's Taiwan region, the statement said.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in India rose to 2,268,675 on Tuesday as the deaths crossed the 45,000 mark, reaching 45,257, according to data released by the federal health ministry.
Over the past 24 hours, 53,601 new cases were recorded across the country, as 871 deaths due to the virus were registered.
There are a total of 639,929 active cases in India presently. A total of 1,583,489 people have been cured and discharged from hospitals.
Tuesday is the 12th consecutive day when over 50,000 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in India.
Former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee, who tested positive for COVID-19, continued to be on life support at a hospital after undergoing surgery to remove a clot in his brain, officials said Tuesday.
The 84-year-old Mukherjee underwent the operation at Indian army's research and referral hospital in Delhi.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that there was an urgent need to increase testing of samples to curb COVID-19 in 10 states which accounted for nearly 80 percent of fresh cases across the country.
Indonesia began its third and final phase of a COVID-19 vaccine trial made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. on Tuesday and expects domestic production to start within the next six months, President Joko Widodo said in Bandung.
As many as 1,620 volunteers participated in the trial in the capital of West Java Province. State-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma aims to produce 250 million doses of the Chinese-developed vaccine by the end of the year.
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 1,693 within one day to 128,776, with the death toll adding by 59 to 5,824 the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
According to the ministry, 1,474 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 83,710.
In Iran, the hardest hit country in the Middle East, the overall number of the coronavirus cases has grown to 328,844, while the pandemic has so far claimed the lives of 18,616 Iranians, up by 189 in the past 24 hours, according to Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Iranian health ministry.
She said 1,067 of the new coronavirus patients detected in the past 24 hours in Iran have been hospitalized, while 3,992 remain in critical condition.
Israel's Ministry of Health reported 1,720 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total infections in the country to 84,722.
A family exercises along Port Melbourne Beach in Melbourne on August 10, 2020, as the city struggles to cope with a COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. (WILLIAM WEST / AFP)
Japan has found virus clusters stemming from dinner parties, karaoke parlors, workplaces and dormitories, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters Tuesday.
The Tokyo metropolitan government on Tuesday confirmed 188 new daily COVID-19 cases, marking the second straight day infections have remained below the 200-mark.
The latest figure, however, compares with 197 cases recorded on Monday following Sunday's tally where cases surged to 331.
People in Tokyo have been urged to refrain from traveling to their hometowns for family reunions during the Bon holiday period which usually sees an annual mass-exodus from the capital, as well as dining out in large groups over extended periods, or attending smaller gathering in close proximity with others.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said Japan must try to avoid declaring another emergency, in order to soften the blow to the economy caused by the pandemic.
Jordan will enforce a law that makes wearing face masks and gloves obligatory from Aug. 15 and impose fines on any violator from 20 dinars (US$28) to 50 dinars, Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh said at a press conference on Monday.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Jordan on Monday rose by 16 to 1,268.
In Lebanon the number of COVID-19 cases on Monday rose by 295 to 6,812.
Lebanon is expected to witness a remarkable daily increase in COVID-19 cases in the coming days as thousands have taken to streets in anti-government protests to demand the overhaul of the political system after the deadly explosions in Beirut.
The Maldives government has banned locals from visiting tourist facilities in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19, local media reported here Tuesday.
The Ministry of Tourism has introduced new regulations which prohibits Maldivian nationals from visiting tourism facilities until further notice. The decision was taken in order to prevent the possible spread of imported COVID-19 cases to the local population.
The Nepali government decided on Monday to extend suspension of domestic and international flights as well as public transport until Aug. 31 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a minister and an aide of a minister said.
The decision came when the Himalayan country was witnessing resurgence of the COVID-19 cases since the nearly four-month long lockdown was lifted on July 22 and people's movement was eased out.
Oman reported 207 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, including 40 non-Omanis, raising the total number in the country to 81,787, according to a statement by the Omani health ministry.
The recovery rate of coronavirus in Oman is as high as 93 percent, while the global level is 64 percent, according to Huda Al Khalili, intensive care consultant for COVID-19 at the Royal Hospital.
A waiter serves food on a table at a rooftop restaurant on Margalla Hills in Islamabad on August 10, 2020, after government announced it would be lifting most of the country's remaining coronavirus restrictions after seeing new cases drop for several weeks. (AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)
Pakistanis flocked to gyms, salons and restaurants that opened on Monday for the first time in five months after being shut to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The South Asian country has recorded more than 280,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 6,100 deaths, but has seen a slowing of numbers since June, when it recorded nearly 7,000 infections and 118 deaths in a single day.
On Sunday, Pakistan recorded 539 new infections and 15 deaths. New daily cases have been under a thousand throughout August.
The government allowed a partial resumption of commercial activities in May. Despite reopening the remaining businesses, it urged people take precautions including wearing masks.
Palestine recorded 467 new cases, raising the total number in the Palestinian territories to 19,118.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape is pressing ahead with plans to lift lockdown measures in the Pacific nation this week, even as a recent sharp spike in coronavirus infections worries health officials.
Marape said a two-week lockdown in the capital of Port Moresby would be lifted from Wednesday, despite the country’s reported cases of COVID-19 doubling over the past week.
“Whilst the spread is there, we have to adapt to living with COVID-19 this year, instead of taking on drastic measures,” Marape told a news conference on Monday.
PNG had a total of 214 cases and three deaths as of Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported, up from 104 cases and one death the previous week.
The Qatari health ministry on Monday announced 315 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number in the Gulf state to 113,262, official Qatar News Agency reported.
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.
In Saudi Arabia, 1,257 new COVID-19 infections were reported, raising the accumulated cases in the kingdom to 289,947, amid a slowdown trajectory of daily infections in the past month.
The Saudi Ministry of Health reported 32 more deaths and 1,439 new recovered cases, increasing the death toll to 3,199 and the total recoveries to 253,478.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 188 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 55,292.
Of the new cases, 12 are imported cases, one is community case and the rest are linked with the dormitories of foreign workers.
South Korea reported 34 more cases of the COVID-19 as of 0:00 a.m. Tuesday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 14,660.
The daily caseload moved between 20 and 50 in recent days due to small cluster infections and imported cases.
Of the new cases, 11 were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 2,572.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 1,193 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the total confirmed number in the country to 241,997.
In addition, 14 people died in the past 24 hours from the virus, taking the death toll to 5,858, while 1,211 patients recovered in the past 24 hours, raising the total recoveries to 224,970.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the country's economy has been recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the first among the Gulf countries to report COVID-19 cases, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday announced 179 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 62,704.
The UAE health ministry also reported 198 more recoveries from the virus, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 56,766.
Kyrgyzstan reported 278 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the country's total infections to 40,455.
Ainura Akmatova, head of the country's public health care department, told a daily news briefing that eight of the new patients are medical workers, while the caseload of infected medical workers has reached 2,967, of whom 2,212 have recovered.
A total of 6,397 COVID-19 patients are still undergoing medical treatment, while the number of recoveries in the country now stands at 32,764. Four deaths have been registered over the past 24 hours, raising the country's COVID-19 death toll to 1,478.
During an online meeting with President Sooronbai Jeenbekov on Monday, Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov, said that work is underway to prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
Kuwait on Tuesday reported 668 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 73,068 and the death toll to 486, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Currently, 7,823 patients are receiving treatment, including 110 in ICU, the statement added.
The ministry also announced the recovery of 731 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 64,759.
Kazakhstan registered 722 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking its total to 100,164, including 1,269 deaths and 73,702 recoveries.
From Aug 1 to 11, Kazakhstan has also recorded 13,337 pneumonia cases with clinical signs of COVID-19, with 173 pneumonia-related deaths.
Health Minister Alexei Tsoi said Tuesday that since the new nationwide lockdown was imposed on July 5, the country's COVID-19 reproduction rate has dropped from 1.15 to 0.82, while the incidence of coronavirus cases among the population has dropped from 56.73 to 36.2 per 100,000 people.
Vanuatu's state of emergency for COVID-19 will remain in place until Dec. 31 this year and may be extended if the situation warrants an extension.
According to Vanuatu's English newspaper Daily Post on Tuesday, Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Prime Minister's Office Fred Vurobaravu said this was the decision made by the Vanuatu Council of Ministers.
Vurobaravu said Vanuatu's approach to COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place, given the COVID-19 situation in neighboring countries including Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
He said the much talked about Tamtam Bubble is a concept that is still being worked on in preparation for a post-COVID-19 and pending the instructions from the National Task Force and the National Disaster Management Office after assessments and reviews of the pandemic situation in the region.
Thailand's Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday that all state schools under the supervision of the Ministry's Office of Basic Education Commission (OBEC) will resume in-person teaching from Thursday onward, but on a trial basis.
OBEC said in a press briefing on Tuesday that the resumption of schools was in line with the improvement in the COVID-19 situation in Thailand, which has not recorded a single case of local infection for 78 days in a row.
Students must, however, keep a record of where they go after school, so that officials can monitor their after-school activities, in case any of them is exposed to COVID-19 and so that the proper steps can be taken to prevent the disease from spreading.
HONG KONG NEWS