A commuter wearing face mask sits in a tram on Istiklal Street, in Istanbul, on Oct 9, 2020. (Yasin AKGUL / AFP)
SEOUL / YANGON / DUBAI / JERUSALEM / RAMALLAH / SYDNEY / KUALA LUMPUR / JAKARTA / DHAKA / BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN / HANOI / TEHRAN / COLOMBO / YANGON - Turkey’s health minister acknowledged a nationwide increase in coronavirus cases and said he’d spend five days investigating the surge in Istanbul.
“The pandemic is on the rise again across the country,” Fahrettin Koca said on Friday in the northwestern city of Bursa before heading to the country’s largest city at the weekend, where the government-led coronavirus science board will also meet. Istanbul has “40 percent of nationwide cases,” the minister said, without elaborating.
“I invite Istanbulites to observe measures, by making sacrifices if necessary,” Koca said.
Turkey has reported more than 2,000 new patients for the past two days, near levels last seen in early May. The number of severely ill people rose to 1,599 on Thursday, the highest since the government started providing the figure in July.
Turkey stopped announcing all cases of the virus at the end of July and has since only disclosed the number of patients who test positive and show symptoms.
Koca acknowledged that shift in policy last month, triggering widespread criticism. The total number of cases would be shared with the World Health Organization, Hurriyet newspaper cited him as saying on Oct 11.
Turkey’s economy shrank 9.9 percent from a year earlier in the second quarter, the most in over a decade, as lockdowns took their toll on the economy. The government predicts a 0.3 percent expansion this year, followed by 5.8 percent growth in 2021.
Leaders of seven of Australia's eight states and territories have agreed in principle to a plan to open their borders by the end of this year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday chaired a meeting of the National Cabinet at which the local leaders, with the exception of West Australian Premier Mark McGowan, agreed to open up the country by Christmas on Dec 25.
"We agreed in principle, again, - with the exception of Western Australia and their reservations were outlined on a previous occasion - with the reopening framework for Australia by Christmas," Morrison said at a press conference in Canberra.
He also stressed the importance of the plan, saying it not only details the opening of various activities in economy, community and society, but also includes the necessary actions in public health response to support the plan.
However, McGowan has agreed to increase the state's intake of recently returned travellers into hotel quarantine by 140 in November.
"So we continue to make good progress towards returning Australians home," said Morrison. "And we want to do that as effectively and quickly, as safely as possible. And we'll continue to work with all state and territory jurisdictions to facilitate that wherever we can."
As of Friday afternoon there had been 27,484 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours was 18, according to the latest figures from the federal health ministry.
Bangladesh reported 1,586 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 14 more deaths on Friday, bringing its total tally to 396,413 with 5,761 deaths.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the total number of recovered patients reached 312,065, including 1,533 new recoveries on Friday.
Official data showed 14,119 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.
The COVID-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh currently stands at 1.45 percent and the recovery rate at 78.72 percent, said the DGHS.
Brunei reported no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, leaving its total tally unchanged at 148.
The health ministry said that no more recoveries were recorded, with the total number remaining at 143. There are still two active cases being treated in the National Isolation Center, who were recorded on Oct 14 and 22.
Meanwhile, currently a total of 282 people, who all returned from overseas travels, are in mandatory isolation at the monitoring centers provided by the government.
There have been 3 deaths reported from the COVID-19 pandemic in Brunei.
Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech said the COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin is likely to be at least 60 percent effective.
"The benchmark for the efficacy of our anti-COVID-19 vaccine is 60 percent. We will be conducting the largest Phase 3 trial for Covaxin, and the efficacy results should be available by early April-May, 2021," Sai Prasad, executive director, Bharat Biotech International Limited was quoted by local newspaper Hindustan Times as saying.
Reports said late Thursday Bharat Biotech received approval from the drugs controller general of India (DCGI) to conduct a Phase 3 clinical trial to establish the efficacy of their vaccine candidate. The interim results of the Phase 3 trial are likely to be released by April or May next year.
Covaxin has been developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) -- National Institute of Virology (NIV) using inactivated Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The company is looking at a production capacity of about 150 million doses annually, while the cost of the vaccine is yet to be decided.
India's federal health minister recently said the COVID-19 vaccine would likely be available in India by early next year.
The number of cases in India, the second worst-hit country by the pandemic, is increasing with each passing day. The federal health ministry on Friday said the number of COVID-19 cases in India reached 7,761,312 and the death toll rose to 117,306.
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 4,369 within one day to 381,910, with the death toll adding by 118 to 13,077, the health ministry said on Friday.
According to the ministry, 4,094 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 305,100.
The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.
Specifically, within the past 24 hours, Jakarta recorded 952 new cases, Central Java 571, West Java 504, East Java 295 and Riau 276.
No more new positive cases were found in three provinces, namely Bangka Belitung, West Sulawesi and Gorontalo.
Travelers walk towards immigration clearance counters stand in the arrival hall at Terminal 4 of Changi Airport in Singapore, on Dec 13, 2018. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)
Iran's health ministry reported a record high of 6,134 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the total number of infections in the country to 556,891.
The pandemic has so far claimed 31,985 lives in Iran, up by 335 in the past 24 hours, said Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education, during her daily briefing.
A total of 446,685 people have recovered from the disease and been discharged from hospitals, while 4,933 remain in intensive care units, she added.
Currently, the risk of infection is high in 27 Iranian provinces, Lari noted.
Following the COVID-19 resurgence in Iran over the past weeks, the health authorities have reintroduced strict protective measures and compulsory use of face masks in the capital Tehran and major cities of the country.
Iraq reported 3,899 new COVID-19 cases and 47 more deaths, bringing the nationwide infections to 442,164 and the death toll to 10,465.
The Iraqi health ministry also reported 2,816 more recovered cases, raising the tally of recoveries to 371,826 in the country.
Israel reported 912 new cases of COVID-19 infection and 28 more deaths, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 308,247 and the death toll to 2,319.
The tally of recoveries in Israel climbed to 288,337 after 2,862 more patients recovered from the virus.
Jordan set a new record in daily COVID-19 infections with 2,821 new cases, raising the tally of confirmed cases in the kingdom to 46,441.
The Jordanian health ministry reported 38 new deaths and 117 more recoveries, taking the death toll to 481 and the tally of recovered patients to 7,340.
Kuwait reported 889 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 119,420 and the death toll to 730 in the country.
The Kuwaiti health ministry also announced the recovery of 798 more patients, taking the total recoveries in the country to 110,714.
Top Lebanese security official Major-General Abbas Ibrahim returned to Beirut from the United States on Friday where he had tested positive for COVID-19, local media reported.
Ibrahim’s positive test result, announced on Monday, had delayed his return from talks in Washington and forced him to cancel scheduled meetings in Paris.
Lebanon registered 16 new COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily coronavirus toll so far, bringing the total deaths in the country to 552.
The overall number of infections in Lebanon went up by 1,450 to 67,027, while the tally of recoveries increased to 31,409 with the addition of 939 more recoveries.
Malaysia reported 710 new COVID-19 infections, the health ministry said on Friday, bringing the national total to 24,514.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that one of the new cases is imported and 709 are local transmissions, 528 of which were reported in the state of Sabah.
Another 10 new deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 214.
Myanmar reported 1,361 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of infections to 42,365 in total so far, according to a release from the Health and Sports Ministry Friday.
The death toll has risen to 1,038 after 33 new deaths were reported on Friday, the release said.
As of Friday, a total of 22, 454 recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals.
In a weekly televised message to the public on Friday, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi urged people in the regions and states with most infection cases to continue staying alert of the infectious disease.
New Zealand reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, eight of which have been detected in the government managed isolation facilities, while one is a household contact connected to the marine employee cluster and was already in self-isolation.
Seven of the cases in managed isolation involve fishing crew at a Christchurch isolation facility. These were picked up at day six testing and more positive results are expected from this group as more tests are processed on Friday, according to the Ministry of Health.
The Omani health ministry announced 353 new COVID-19 infections and 10 more deaths, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 111,837 and the death toll to 1,147.
The total number of the recoveries in Oman climbed by 582 to 97,949, the ministry said in a statement.
Palestinian medical sources said early Friday that two members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee have tested positive for COVID-19.
The two senior PLO officials, Ahmad Majdalani and Azzam el-Ahmad, decided to stay in quarantine at home, the sources told Xinhua, without giving more details.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, COVID-19 has claimed 506 lives since the outbreak of the disease in the Palestinian territories in March.
In a press statement, the ministry said that it recorded more than 60,000 infections in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem since March, and 88.3 percent of them have recovered.
Qatar on Thursday announced 252 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 130,462.
The death toll rose by three to 228, while the tally of recoveries in the Gulf state to 127,328, the Qatari health ministry said.
Saudi Arabia confirmed 401 new coronavirus cases and 15 more fatalities, pushing up the tally of infections in the kingdom to 343,774 and the total death count to 5,250.
The total number of recoveries increased to 330,181 after 466 new recoveries were confirmed, the Saudi health ministry said.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, which are all imported cases, bringing the country's total tally to 57,951.
On Friday, three more cases of COVID-19 were discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 57,832 cases have fully recovered, the ministry said.
Singapore currently has 52 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, and none of them is in the intensive care unit. Furthermore, 39 infected people are being isolated and cared for at community facilities. They have mild symptoms or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19.
Altogether 28 people have passed away from complications due to COVID-19 infection.
In this photo taken on Sept 18, 2020, vendors and shoppers wear face masks at a market in Wanju ahead of the Chuseok festival. (PHOTO / AFP)
South Korea on Friday reported 155 new cases of the COVID-19, the biggest increase in more than six weeks, raising the total number of infections to 25,698.
The daily caseload stayed above 100 for straight days, marking the highest figure in 42 days since Sept. 11 due to small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.
Of the new cases, 19 were Seoul residents and 98 were people residing in Gyeonggi province.
Seventeen were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 3,616.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Sri Lanka jumped to 6,896 on Friday after 609 patients tested positive during the day, the government information department said in a statement.
According to the statement, a majority of the patients were linked to the Peliyagoda fish market cluster located in capital Colombo, while the others were detected from the Galle and Beruwala fisheries harbors in the south.
Sri Lanka has seen a rise in the number of positive COVID-19 patients after a new cluster was detected in Minuwangoda in the outskirts of Colombo on Oct 4, when a 39-year-old apparel factory worker and her 16-year-old daughter tested positive for COVID-19.
Vehicles move outside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Manila, the Philippines, on Jan 13, 2020. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)
The Philippines reported fewer coronavirus cases this week amid a slowdown in testing, with the Red Cross suspending most of its COVID-19 operations after it wasn’t paid by the state health insurer.
The Philippine Red Cross, which accounts for a quarter of the nation’s testing output, last week said it’s stopping coronavirus tests due to nearly 1 billion pesos (US$20.6 million) unpaid bills charged to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
The Philippines will welcome back foreign nationals starting Nov 1 and allow Filipino travelers to leave without COVID-19 antigen test.
Religious gatherings in areas under a looser form of quarantine will be allowed up to 30 percent of seating capacity from 10 percent previously, Harry Roque, spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a statement on Friday.
The Philippines, which has the second most number of cases in Southeast Asia, on Friday reported 1,923 new infections, bringing to total to nearly to 365,799.
Vietnam reported no new cases of COVID-19 infection on Friday, with its total confirmed cases standing at 1,148 with 35 deaths from the disease so far, according to its Ministry of Health.
The ministry announced that as many as 1,049 patients in the country have been given all-clear as of Friday.
Meanwhile, nearly 13,700 people are being quarantined and monitored in the country, the ministry said.
Vietnam has gone through 51 straight days without any COVID-19 cases in the community, according to the ministry.
HONG KONG NEWS