A man jogs past a display of photos outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital on Oct 20, 2020, to thank healthcare workers as the state of Victoria records one new case of the coronavirus.(PHOTO / AFP)
SYDNEY / TOKYO / SEOUL / DBUAI - Australia’s Victoria state, the country’s COVID-19 hotspot, reported four cases related to infections in schools on Saturday, a day before the expected easing of strict social distancing restrictions.
Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s second-most populous state, is emerging from a second wave as a hard lockdown since July has brought daily infections of the new coronavirus down to single digits from an August peak over 700.
The state of New South Wales -- home to Sydney -- recorded no new locally transmitted virus cases for a second day. Five cases from overseas travelers in hotel quarantine were reported in in the 24 hours through 8 pm Friday, the regional health department said, bringing its overall tally to 4,186.
Australia is considering reopening state borders in time for Christmas and is also weighing plans to create alternative options to hotel quarantine so that more of its citizens can return from abroad.
India's COVID-19 tally reached 7,814,682 as 53,370 more cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data released by the federal health ministry on Saturday.
The death toll surged to 117,956, with 650 deaths recorded since Friday morning.
Still there are 680,680 active COVID-19 cases in the country. In all 7,016,046 people have been successfully cured.
This is the second consecutive day when the number of active COVID-19 cases has been below the 700,000-mark in the country. It is also the first day when the total number of people cured crossed the 7-million mark.
Indian government's focus has been on ramping up COVID-19 testing facilities across the length and breadth of the country.
In Iraq, 3,785 new coronavirus cases were detected during the past 24 hours, bringing the total nationwide infections to 445,949.
The death toll from the coronavirus in Iraq rose to 10,513 after 48 fatalities were added, while the total recoveries increased to 375,188 as 3,362 more patients recovered.
In Israel, 593 new cases were reported, bringing the tally in the country to 308,840.
The death toll reached 2,329, with 10 new fatalities. The total number of recoveries reached 290,130, with 1,793 new ones, while the active cases dropped to 16,380.
According to Israeli media, Israel's special cabinet for handling the COVID-19 is set to convene on Oct. 25 to discuss allowing shops and more schools to reopen.
Japan’s government is considering compiling an extra budget worth around US$95.5 billion to offset the economic drag caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Mainichi newspaper reported on Saturday.
The government is likely to debate using the 10 trillion yen (US$95.52 billion) budget to extend a labour subsidy programme scheduled to end in December and to pay for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, the Mainichi reported, without citing sources.
Members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are calling for 10 trillion yen in spending, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is likely to formally order an extra budget early next month, the Mainichi said.
In Jordan, 2,489 new COVID-19 cases and 27 more deaths were recorded, increasing the tally of cases to 48,930 and the death toll to 508. A total of 7,445 patients have recovered with an addition of 105 new ones.
Kuwait reported 812 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 120,232 and the death toll to 740 in the country.
The Kuwaiti health ministry also announced the recovery of 726 more patients, taking the total recoveries in the country to 111,440.
In Lebanon, the number of COVID-19 infections increased by 1,543 to 68,570, while the death toll went up by seven to 559.
Lebanese caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan opened on the day a coronavirus department at Ragheb Harb Hospital in southern Lebanon while reiterating his call for private hospitals to join efforts with public hospitals in the fight against the virus.
The minister noted that Lebanon transferred nearly US$4.4 million to COVAX, an international initiative aimed at ensuring equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, to secure a quantity of vaccines against the virus.
A truck sprays disinfectant as a preventive measure against COVID-19 at Sukhbaatar square in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia on March 17, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP）
Mongolia reported nine new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking its total tally to 337, the country's health ministry said on Saturday.
"Of the nine new cases, seven are Mongolian nationals and two are foreigners. They all have entered Mongolia via Altanbulag border point," the ministry said in a statement.
All the confirmed cases in Mongolia were imported and 312 people among them have recovered.
New Zealand reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.
All 11 new cases were detected in isolation facilities, while there were no new community cases in the country, said the ministry.
Five of the cases are among the international fishing crew in isolation in Christchurch, who tested positive on day six of their stay.
The total number of active cases in New Zealand is currently 74 and the total number of confirmed cases has reached 1,578, said the ministry.
Palestine reported 513 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections in the Palestinian territories to 61,183, including 53,925 recoveries and 510 deaths.
In Qatar, 249 new cases of coronavirus infections were detected, increasing the total number to 130,711, including 229 deaths and 127,599 recoveries.
Saudi Arabia announced 383 new cases and 14 more deaths, raising the tally of confirmed cases to 344,157 and the death toll to 5,264.
The kingdom also reported 397 more recovered patients, taking the total recoveries to 330,578.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Turkey climbed by 2,165 to 357,693, while the death toll from the coronavirus in the country rose to 9,658 after 74 new fatalities were added in the past 24 hours and the total recoveries increased to 311,520.
South Korea recorded 77 news cases, dropping almost half from the previous day’s tally of 155. The Asian nation now has 25,775 total infections, as it’s worked to contain a surge following early success in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Sri Lanka closed at least two fishery harbors and a number of stalls after a surge in hundreds of cases tied to the main fish market in the country, the AP reported. Authorities also widened curfew in parts of Colombo, AP said.
The fish market was temporarily closed on Wednesday after 49 traders tested positive for COVID-19, AP said, and the number of cases had spiked to 609 by Saturday.
Health authorities said this cluster was linked to a larger cluster located in Minuwangoda on the outskirts of capital Colombo which came to light on Oct. 4 when a 39-year-old apparel factory worker and her 16-year-old daughter tested positive for the infection.
The total number of COVID-19 patients in Sri Lanka reached 7,153 on Saturday as the country recorded 865 patients on Friday, the highest number recorded in a single day, the government's information department said.
The state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp said it will pay 930 million pesos (US$19 million) it owes the Red Cross after the agency stopped virus tests -- leaving thousands of quarantined people waiting to be screened.
The agency accounts for a quarter of the Southeast Asian nation’s testing and said last week it had stopped COVID-19 tests charged to PhilHealth. The tests are mostly administered to medical personnel and workers returning from overseas.
The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,057 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection on Saturday, bringing the total number in the country to 367,819.
The DOH said 442 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 313,112. The death toll climbed to 6,934 after 19 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH added.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced 1,563 new cases, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 122,273.
The tally of recoveries in the UAE rose to 115,068 after 1,704 more patients have recovered from the virus and the death toll reached 475 with one more death.
HONG KONG NEWS