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Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 22:59
10m Indian health workers to get first crack at vaccines
By Agencies
Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 22:59 By Agencies

Health workers and relatives carry the body of a COVID-19 victim for cremation in New Delhi, India, Nov 19, 2020. (MANISH SWARUP / AP)

TOKYO / SEOUL / ANKARA / DUBAI / SYDNEY / KUALA LUMPUR / BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN / NEW DELHI / CANBERRA - Ten million frontline healthcare workers will be the first people to receive vaccination against the COVID-19 pandemic once the vaccine is available,  local newspaper Indian Express said Tuesday.

The newspaper quoting its sources said a vaccination group of approximately 10 million health workers have been identified.

"We have moved into an advance stage of building a database for the first priority group - frontline healthcare workers - who will receive the first dose during the immunization drive, if and when a particular vaccine is cleared by the Indian regulator for commercial use," the newspaper quoted its sources in the expert group on vaccine administration as saying.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot has said the COVID-19 infection in the northern state was moving toward a dangerous situation. State health minister Raghu Sharma said that more than 3,000 confirmed cases were reported daily in the state in the second peak of the local COVID-19 outbreak.

Sharma on Monday tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently being treated in hospital.

Rajasthan has reported 247,168 coronavirus infections with 2,181 deaths so far.

India reported 37,975 new virus cases Tuesday, lower than the 44,059 reported yesterday, according to government data. The numbers are the lowest in about a week. Four hundred and eighty more people died in the past 24 hours, taking the total deaths to 134,218.

India is third in the global deaths tally, lagging behind the US and Brazil.


The death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan has risen to 1,712, with 17 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, the country's Ministry of Public Health reported.

The ministry also said in a statement that 290 new cases were confirmed, bringing the national tally to 45,278 including 7,444 active cases.


Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt has declared that the country is "on track" to start administering coronavirus vaccines in March 2021.

Hunt on Tuesday welcomed the announcement from drugmaker AstraZeneca that its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with Oxford University, was up to 90 percent effective.

"The news from overseas means that we are on track for first vaccines in March. So that will obviously start with the health workers, and, if approvals are granted, for the elderly," he said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Hunt and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September announced that the Australian government had reached a deal with AstraZeneca for 33.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Tuesday afternoon there had been 27,848 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours was 13, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

The department also said that the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last seven days were 10 and 82 respectively.

READ MORE: South Korea to close bars, limit church services amid virus spike


Brunei reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19, an imported case, on Tuesday, bringing the national tally to 150.

This is the second confirmed case reported in Brunei this month. Brunei reported another imported case on Monday, who is a 37-year-old woman returned from India.

At present, Brunei has recorded 202 days without local COVID-19 infection case.

Meanwhile, 558 returned overseas travelers are currently undergoing mandatory self-isolation at the monitoring centers provided by the government.

There have been three deaths reported from the COVID-19 pandemic in Brunei and a total of 145 patients have recovered.


The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose to 506,302, with the death toll adding by 109 to 16,111, the Health Ministry said, and 2,927 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 425,313.


Iran's Health Ministry reported 13,721 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the total nationwide infections to 880,542.

The pandemic has so far claimed 45,738 lives in Iran, up by 483 in the past 24 hours, said Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education during her daily briefing.


In the meantime, the Iraqi Health Ministry announced 2,136 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 537,457.

The ministry also reported 38 new deaths and 2,202 more recovered cases in the country, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 11,996 and the total recoveries to 467,654.


In Israel, 905 new COVID-19 cases were recorded, taking the tally of coronavirus infections to 329,823.

The death toll of the virus in Israel increased to 2,810 with 11 new fatalities, while the total recoveries rose to 318,524 after 637 new recovered cases were added.

Earlier in the day, Israel's Ministry of Justice issued a report showing that the number of bankruptcy applications filed in Israel since the beginning of 2020 has surged 41 percent compared with the same period in 2019.

The leap is caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the two full lockdowns imposed in the country, it said.

ALSO READ: Indonesia's virus cases surpass 500,000, deaths over 16,000

People wearing face masks walk along the Cheonggye stream in downtown Seoul on Nov 23, 2020. (JUNG YEON-JE/ AFP)


Japan's minister in charge of COVID-19 response said on Tuesday that the government will suspend the "Go To Travel" domestic travel subsidy campaign in Sapporo and Osaka for three weeks due to sharp rises of COVID-19 cases in the two cities.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said that the government will cover cancellation fees for pre-booked trips to the two cities and compensate the losses of the affected businesses.

However, residents from Sapporo, capital of Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido and Osaka in western Japan can still take part in the campaign to travel to other areas, said the minister.

Meanwhile, Tokyo said the number of serious coronavirus cases in the capital Monday climbed to 51 from 41 the previous day. Metropolitan government has been considering using the metric to gauge whether store closures will be needed. Total confirmed coronavirus cases in capital 186 Tuesday.

Osaka city will ask some restaurants in its nightlife districts to close at 9pm for 15 days starting Friday, Kyodo reported, cites Osaka prefecture Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura as saying. The local coronavirus panel will make an official decision this afternoon.

The country posted a total of 1,520 cases on Monday, the first time in six days that infections fell below 2,000 cases, though that figure was likely lower due to slower testing during the holiday weekend.

People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus visit the restaurant area of Omoide Yokocho alleyway in Shinjuku district of Tokyo on Nov 19, 2020. (PHILIP FONG / AFP)


Kazakhstan recorded 678 more COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 126,182, including 1,990 deaths and 112,806 recoveries, said the country's health ministry on Tuesday.

Five regions, namely East Kazakhstan, Pavlodar, Kostanay, North Kazakhstan and Akmola, are listed as the red zone, or the country's worst-hit areas, while the yellow zone contains the West Kazakhstan Region and the capital city of Nur-Sultan. Other places are classified as the green zone.

Almost all regions of Kazakhstan have reported increase in coronavirus cases, and the virus reproductive rate nationwide is 1.07. Beds for infectious diseases in the country are filled by 22 percent, and intensive care beds by 17 percent, the ministry said.


Kuwait reported 337 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 140,393 and the death toll to 868 in the country.

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced the recovery of 670 more patients, taking the total recoveries in the country to 132,848.


In Lebanon, the number of COVID-19 infections increased by 1,041 to 117,517 on Monday, while the death toll rose to 911. A total of 69,079 patients have recovered in the country.


Malaysia on Tuesday reported 2,188 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the highest daily spike since the coronavirus outbreak in the country, bringing the national total to 58,847.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement that all new cases were local transmissions.

The majority of the new cases were reported in the Selangor state with 1,623 cases, a large number of them being factory workers from Malaysia's Top Glove, the world's largest rubber glove maker by capacity.

According to the latest data from the health ministry, four more deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic were reported in Malaysia, taking the death toll to 341, while 1,673 more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 44,153 , or 75 percent of all cases.

Of the remaining 14,353 active cases, 112 are being held in intensive care units with 49 of them in need of assisted breathing. 


Mongolia registered 32 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the national caseload to 672, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Tuesday.

"A total of 4,335 tests for COVID-19 were conducted across the country yesterday and 32 of them were positive," said Amarjargal Ambaselmaa, head of the NCCD's Surveillance Department, at a press conference.

The latest confirmed cases are locally transmitted. A total of 245 such cases have been reported so far across the country.


Myanmar is reviewing options to gradually ease COVID -19 restrictions for the economy despite a surge in virus cases in the past few days, de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said in a televised speech. 

Myanmar surpassed 80,000 cases.

New Zealand

New Zealand reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, both detected in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities.

One person arrived on Nov. 17 from India via the United Arab Emirates, and the other arrived on Nov. 19 from the United States. Both of them tested positive around the third day of isolation, according to the Ministry of Health, and they are now in quarantine at an Auckland facility.


Oman registered 275 new infections from the virus on the same day, bringing the nationwide cases to 122,356 with 1,386 deaths and 113,577 recoveries.


Palestine reported 1,552 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections in the Palestinian territories to 85,892, including 723 deaths and 71,613 recoveries.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye told the weekly meeting of the cabinet on Monday that the government will impose a full lockdown all over the West Bank between this Friday morning and Sunday morning.

He said the complete lockdown would include stores, restaurants, cafes, and other facilities in all West Bank cities, towns, villages, and refugee camps, excluding bakeries and pharmacies.

"Right after that, the lockdown will be partial from 7 pm to 6 am every day for two weeks all over the West Bank," Ishtaye added, according to an official government statement.


In Qatar, 186 new cases of coronavirus infections were detected, increasing the total number to 137,415, including 236 deaths and 134,486 recoveries.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health said that the coronavirus vaccine will be available to everyone in the kingdom, free of charge. 

Saudi Arabia hopes that the coronavirus vaccines will cover 70 percent of the kingdom’s population by the end of 2021, the ministry added. The ministry didn’t specify which company’s vaccine it planned to use.

Saudi Arabia announced on the same day 231 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total tally to 355,489.

The recoveries rose to 343,816 with 445 more recovered cases in the kingdom, while the death toll reached 5,796 with the registration of 16 more fatalities.


Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported five new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 58,165.

All of the new cases are imported cases, who had already been placed on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or isolated upon arrival in Singapore.

On Monday, four more cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 58,071 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities, the ministry said.

South Korea

South Korea will raise its social-distancing rules to the third-highest level for two weeks from Tuesday through Dec. 7 in the Seoul metropolitan area amid the soaring COVID-19 cases in the capital area.

The country's five-tier social-distancing regulations will be lifted to Level 2 in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province for two weeks, according to the health authorities.

The authorities tightened the quarantine rules from the lowest Level 1 to Level 1.5 on Nov. 19 in the metropolitan area, but the resurgence showed no sign of letup, leading to the tougher social-distancing guidelines.

South Korea reported 349 more cases of COVID-19 as of early Tuesday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 31,353.

The daily caseload rose above 300 after recording 271 in the previous day. It grew in triple digits for 17 days running due to small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.


Thailand received more than 1,000 foreign tourists in October, the first set of visitors to the Southeast Asian nation in six months.

Tourists began returning in small numbers under a special long-stay tourist visa unveiled by the government last month, according to data released by Thailand’s tourism ministry Tuesday. The October arrivals compared with 3.07 million foreign visitors during the same month a year ago, and were the first since March, data showed.

While Thailand has relaxed most of its coronavirus measures to allow businesses to fully reopen and some visitors to return, it has retained a nationwide state of emergency to prevent a resurgence in the pandemic. The nation’s ailing tourism industry is struggling to draw visitors as authorities have retained a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival amid a surge in confirmed infections worldwide.

The cumulative COVID-19 infections in the country, to date, are 3,920, with 3,766 recoveries, with 94 others still being treated in hospitals. The death toll remains 60.

The Philippines

The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Tuesday reported 1,118 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the national tally to 421,722.

The DOH said that 196 more patients recovered from the coronavirus epidemic, raising the total number of recoveries to 386,792. The death toll rose to 8,185 with 12 newly reported deaths.

As the holiday season draws near, the DOH is working on a "contingency plan" in order to enable the government to respond rapidly to a possible "post-holiday season surge" in COVID-19 infections in the country, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said during the weekly inter-agency coronavirus meeting held late Monday night.

Duque stressed again that the virus is still around. "That's why we need to take care of our health and safety for our loved ones," Duque said, adding that there is no room for complacency even if the daily cases are on a downward trend.

The Philippines has reported fewer than 2,000 daily COVID-19 cases for 15 straight days.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced 1,065 new cases, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 160,055.

The tally of recoveries in the UAE rose to 149,578 after 707 more patients have recovered from the virus and the death toll reached 554 with two more fatalities.


Turkey announced a record number of deaths from the coronavirus, highlighting the dilemma facing policy makers trying to contain the current surge in new cases without shutting down the economy again. 

The Ministry of Health on Monday reported 153 deaths due to the virus over the past 24 hours and announced 6,713 symptomatic “patients,” bringing the total number of reported cases to over 453,000 since the outbreak began nine months ago.

The government can hardly afford another lockdown with mounting costs from a contraction in activity earlier this year, rising public expenses to support job programs and the fallout on tax revenues.

Turkey's western province of Izmir has been struggling against the spread of COVID-19, which witnessed a hike after a strong earthquake hit the region at the end of October.

Izmir Provincial Sanitation Board announced on Tuesday a series of additional measures aiming at "ensuring social isolation, protecting physical distance, and keeping the spread of the outbreak under control."

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