An airline employee wearing a face shield works at the Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba prefecture on Aug 19, 2020. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
SYDNEY / TOKYO / ANKARA / DUBAI / NEW DELHI - Japan's cabinet approved a plan on Tuesday to use public funds to provide novel coronavirus vaccines to the public for free.
The plan also calls for the government to bear the cost of any health damage caused by a vaccine, according to a document posted on the health ministry's website.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to provide enough vaccines for the coronavirus for the public by mid-2021. Japan has struck deals for hundreds of millions of doses from companies including AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer Inc.
Japan’s northern Hokkaido prefecture is making final arrangements to raise its coronavirus alert level by one notch from the lowest of 5 stages as infections rise, public broadcaster NHK reports, without attribution.
The prefecture confirmed 295 new coronavirus cases over the past week and 150 hospital beds occupied, exceeding criteria for the current alert level. When the alert is raised, the prefecture will ask residents to refrain from gathering in places where social distancing is difficult and urge companies to take up teleworking.
The Australian state of Victoria, the epicentre of COVID-19 infections, said on Tuesday it had gone 48 hours without detecting any new cases for the first time in more than seven months.
Victoria, the second most populous state, will allow restaurants and cafes in Melbourne to reopen from Wednesday after more than three months under a stringent lockdown.
Despite case numbers dwindling and businesses poised to reopen, Victoria will only ease limits on social gatherings in the home, allowing two adults and dependents from one house to make one daily visit to one other household.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the highest risk of spreading the virus remained in the family home where social distancing protocols were often not applied.
Cambodia's Ministry of Health (MoH) reported on Tuesday that a French woman tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the kingdom to 288.
The 23-year-old woman arrived in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Sunday from France via a connecting flight in Singapore, the MoH said in a press release.
India's COVID-19 tally reached 7,946,429 even as 36,470 more cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data released by the federal health ministry on Tuesday.
The death toll surged to 119,502, with 488 deaths recorded since Monday morning.
This is the first time in over four months when new cases per day have fallen below 40,000-mark, and the second day when deaths per day fell below 500 in the country.
Still there are 625,857 active COVID-19 cases in the country. In all 7,201,070 people have been successfully cured.
For nearly a month the COVID-19 cases have been witnessing a downward trend, and this is the fifth consecutive day when the number of active cases has been below the 700,000-mark in the country.
Indonesia has launched an online system aimed at enabling foreign travelers to apply for online visas during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to avoid face-to-face contacts.
Launched by Minister for Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly on Tuesday, the new system will make the application process "faster, simpler and transparent."
The minister said that the move was in line with the government's policy in helping recover the country's economy through investments and tourism development once the pandemic is over.
"The implementation of the electronic visa service will hopefully bring positive messages to the world that Indonesia has implemented a bureaucratic reform and is ready to be an investment destination," he said in a statement.
Under the new system, travelers will only need to submit visa applications and provide required data online. The application results will be delivered to the emails of the applicants.
Iran on Tuesday reported 6,968 new coronavirus cases and 346 deaths in the past 24 hours, its highest daily tally, pushing the death toll in the hardest-hit Middle Eastern country to 33,299.
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state media that the new cases brought the country’s total number of identified cases to 581,824.
The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Tuesday 4,510 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of nationwide infections to 459,908.
The ministry also reported 53 new deaths and 3,488 more recovered cases in the country, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 10,724 and the total recoveries to 388,081.
Israel's health ministry reported 905 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number in the country to 310,851. The death toll rose to 2,453 after 56 new fatalities were added, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 510 to 496, out of 877 patients hospitalized.
In addition, 1,745 new recoveries were reported, bringing the total number of recoveries to 294,854. Earlier in the day, the coronavirus cabinet decided to reopen schools for grades 1-2, for the first time since a month-long nationwide lockdown was lifted on Oct. 18.
All pupils in grades 1-2 will learn in half classes on alternate days, according to a formula approved by the coronavirus cabinet, according to a joint statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office and the health ministry. "Pupils will be obligated to wear masks," the statement noted.
People wearing face masks cross a pedestrian bridge in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda on Oct 26, 2020 as Australian health officials reported no new coronavirus cases or deaths in Victoria state. (WILLIAM WEST / AFP)
Jordan on Monday reported 1,968 coronavirus cases and 45 new COVID-19 deaths, increasing the tally of infections to 55,055 and the death toll to 624, according to a joint statement issued by the Prime Minister's office and the Ministry of Health.
Earlier in the day, Jordanian Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Mohammad Khalaileh announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19, noting he has imposed self-isolation and is in stable health condition, state-run Petra news agency reported.
Kuwait reported 682 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 122,317 and the death toll to 749 in the country.
The Kuwaiti health ministry also announced the recovery of 620 more patients, taking the total recoveries in the country to 113,391.
In Lebanon, the number of COVID-19 infections increased by 796 to 72,186, while the death toll went up by 14 to 579.
It is worth noting that 537 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Lebanon's prisons, the country's Internal Security Forces announced on Monday.
Malaysia's health ministry reported 835 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, raising the total to 28,640 infections.
The Southeast Asian country also recorded two new deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 238.
Myanmar extended a ban on international commercial flights and issuance of all types of visa until the end of November to contain the spread of coronavirus outbreak ahead of the general elections.
The ban on foreigners entry through land borders will also be extended for another month, the Ministry of Transport and Communications said in a statement Monday. The extension of curbs, which were due to end Oct 31, were ordered by the National Committee on Covid-19 Control chaired by de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, it said.
The Department of Civil Aviation also extended a ban on domestic flights by two weeks through Nov 15. Yangon international airport will continue to operate repatriation, relief and cargo flights it said on Facebook.
Myanmar has locked down most of Yangon province, home to its largest city, to contain a surge in infections but eased a ban on public gatherings on Sunday to allow political parties to campaign before the nations goes to polls on Nov 8.
New Zealand reported one new imported case of COVID-19 from government managed isolation site and no new community cases on Tuesday.
The imported case involved a person arriving from London via Kuala Lumpur who tested positive for COVID-19 after arrival, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a press briefing.
The case brought New Zealand's confirmed cases to 1,585. The number of the country's active cases remained at 68 after seven people have recovered, Bloomfield said.
In this file photo taken on Oct 7, 2020, a researcher works at a laboratory of the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), where a paper-based test for the COVID-19 coronavirus that could give results similar to the speed of pregnancy tests has been developed, in New Delhi. (MONEY SHARMA / AFP)
Oman reported 422 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the total number in the sultanate to 113,354, including 1,190 deaths and 99,668 recoveries, according to a statement by the Omani health ministry.
Palestine reported on Monday 542 new COVID-19 cases and six fatalities, raising the total number of infections in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to 62,588 and the death toll to 525.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian government announced in a press statement that it has launched a free application that "tracks the spread of the deadly virus in areas with cases of infection."
In Qatar, 262 new COVID-19 infections were announced, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 131,432, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
In addition, the overall recoveries rose by 244 to 128,343, while the death toll from the virus remained at 230, QNA said.
Saudi Arabia reported 357 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, raising the total cases in the kingdom to 345,232, continuing a positive trend as what the Saudi Ministry of Health has said.
The Saudi health ministry also reported 17 more deaths and 361 new recovered cases, increasing the death toll to 5,313 and the total recoveries to 331,691.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Tuesday that the government will allow more travelers to serve their 14-day quarantine at a suitable place of residence instead of dedicated facilities if they fulfil certain criteria.
The ministry specified these travelers as coming from Estonia, Fiji, Finland, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Turkey and arriving on or after Nov 4.
They must have not traveled to other countries or regions other than the above-mentioned in the last 14 days prior to their entry into Singapore, and will be occupying their place of residence alone, or only with household members.
Singapore reported three new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 57,973.
Of the new cases, two are imported cases, none is community case and one is linked with the dormitories of foreign workers. On Monday, 21 more cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities.
In all, 57,879 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities, the ministry said.
South Korea reported 88 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours as of Tuesday, raising its total tally to 26,043.
The daily caseload fell below 100 after 119 recorded in the previous day, but the double-digit increase continued due to small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.
Of the new cases, 24 were Seoul residents, and 27 were people residing in the Gyeonggi province.
Sixteen were imported cases from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 3,679.
Sri Lanka's Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva said the close contacts of COVID-19 patients would undergo home quarantine from Tuesday and would not be taken to quarantine centers, as the number of COVID-19 patients saw a spike in the country in recent weeks.
Sri Lanka's total COVID-19 count jumped to 8,152 on Monday after 280 new cases were detected during the day, Health Ministry statistics showed.
Out of the total infected, 3,933 patients had recovered and been discharged from the hospital while 16 deaths had been recorded so far.
The Philippines will keep loose movement restrictions in its capital through November after the Southeast Asian nation recorded fewer infections last week.
Metro Manila will stay under general community quarantine, where most businesses are allowed to operate, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a briefing aired Tuesday. The government this month shortened curfew hours in Manila and eased the stay-at-home order to further reopen its economy.
The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday reported 1,524 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the total number in the country to 373,144.
The DOH said 353 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 328,602. The death toll climbed to 7,053 after 14 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH added.
Two foreigners, who were quarantined in the same Thai hotel with an infected French woman, tested positive for COVID-19, said Thailand's Ministry of Public Health on Tuesday.
"Two foreign arrivals developed symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct 15," said Sophon Iamsirithavorn, director of the Ministry of Public Health's General Infectious Diseases Division. "These two foreigners stayed in the same hotel as the 57-year-old French woman who contracted the virus in the hotel's gym."
Sophon said they are trying to find out how the three cases were linked or how and where they became infected.
Also on Tuesday, Thailand's immigration bureau issued a warning that foreigners who have not applied for an extension of their visas after Oct 31 will face deportation.
The Immigration Bureau had offered the visa waiver to foreigners stranded in Thailand as a result of the COVID-19 spread back in their homelands.
The bureau said that this time, there will be no more visa waivers and late applicants will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Turkey reported 2,198 new COVID-19 patients, increasing the total diagnosed patients to 363,999, the Turkish Health Ministry announced.
The death toll in Turkey rose by 75 to 9,874, while the tally of recoveries increased by 1,618 to 316,008, the ministry said.
As the first among the Gulf countries to report COVID-19 cases, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday announced 1,111 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 126,234.
The UAE health ministry also reported 1,819 more recoveries from the virus and three deaths, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 120,750 and the death toll to 480.
A plan to open up air travel between Dubai and London is ready and could be implemented once approved by the respective governments, according to the head of the emirate’s airport operator.
Testing and quarantine requirements have been agreed by hubs and airlines, said Paul Griffiths, chief executive officer of Dubai Airports, Whether they move forward lies “in the hands of politicians,” he said. Negotiations with the UK are one of several such conversations Dubai Airports is having around the world, according to Griffiths.
Vietnam reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing its total confirmed cases to 1,172 with 35 related deaths so far, according to the country's Ministry of Health.
The new cases include a Vietnamese and two foreigners who have recently entered the country from abroad and were quarantined upon arrival, said the ministry.
HONG KONG NEWS