A woman, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, browses a phone as she walks past a shop along a street in Iran's capital Tehran on Nov 8, 2020. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)
SEOUL / DUBAI / ANKARA / JERUSALEM / KUALA LUMPUR / TOKYO / MANILA / DHAKA / HANOI / COLOMBO / KABUL / ISLAMABAD - Iran's Health Ministry reported 13,961 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the total nationwide infections to 908,346.
The pandemic has so far claimed 46,689 lives in Iran, up by 482 in the past 24 hours, said Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education during her daily briefing.
Iran will import about 42 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for over 20 million people, the Iranian Minister of Health, Treatment and Medical Education Saeed Namaki announced on Wednesday.
"We are purchasing vaccines from the World Health Organization's COVAX program," Namaki said in a public statement.
He said Iran is set to import 16.8 million vaccine doses through COVAX.
About 5.5 million doses will be acquired through a joint production contract with one foreign company, the Iranian minister elaborated, adding another foreign firm will supply about 20 million doses.
A total of 226 new COVID-19 positive cases have been registered in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of cases to 45,716 in the country, according to a statement of the Public Health Ministry released Thursday.
According to the statement, nine patients have died due to the disease over the period, totaling the number of COVID-19 related deaths to 1,737 since the outbreak of the disease in February.
A total of 87 patients have recovered over the past 24 hours, bringing the member of recovered one to 36,232.
The Premier of South Australia (SA) Steven Marshall has called for Australians overseas to be obliged to prove that they do not have coronavirus before boarding a flight home.
As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 27,867 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in the last 24 hours is 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 eight and 75 respectively.
Australians will take advantage of remarkably low COVID-19 rates to enjoy a close-to-normal festive season, with family gatherings, retail shopping and dining all permitted.
City of Sydney officials encouraged residents on Thursday to join crowds throughout the city enjoying light shows, outdoor dining and live performances over the Christmas period.
Sydney recorded another day with zero local infections on Thursday and there are believed to be less than 100 active cases in the entire country, all of which are either in hospital or isolation.
Bangladesh reported 2,292 new COVID-19 cases and 37 new deaths on Thursday, making the tally at 456,438 and the death toll at 6,524, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.
The official data showed that 17,052 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.
Local government of India's capital Delhi on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that it was mulling imposition of night curfew, as the city has witnessed a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases recently.
Between 5,000 and 6,000 daily cases were registered in Delhi in the past nearly 10 days, while the daily new deaths hovered around 100.
The Indian government on Thursday decided to continue the suspension of international flights till the year-end due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The suspension does not apply on international cargo flights to or from India, and those commercial passenger flights approved by the federal government.
Environment minister of Indian capital city Delhi Gopal Rai Thursday tested positive for COVID-19.
India's COVID-19 tally reached 9,266,705 on Thursday, as 44,489 new cases were registered, according to the latest data from the country's health ministry.
According to the data, the death toll mounted to 135,223 as 524 COVID-19 patients have died since Wednesday morning.
India's central bank governor Thursday cautioned on the downside risk to the country's economic growth due to recent surge in COVID-19 infections.
"We need to be watchful about the sustainability of demand after festivals and a possible reassessment of market expectations surrounding the vaccine," said Shaktikanta Das, governor of the Reserve Bank of India, addressing the 4th Annual Day of Foreign Exchange Dealers' Association of India.
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 4,917 within one day to 516,753, with the death toll adding by 127 to 16,352, the health ministry said on Thursday.
According to the ministry, 3,842 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 433,649.
The Iraqi Health Ministry reported 2,438 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 542,187.
The ministry also reported 55 new deaths and 2,270 more recovered cases in the country, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 12,086 and the total recoveries to 472,054.
Iraqi Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi told the Iraqi News Agency that the increase in daily infections is largely due to people's negligence and non-compliance with the health instructions, stressing the need for the citizens' cooperation by adhering to health-protective measures.
Israel's Ministry of Health reported 743 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 331,678. The number of death cases rose by four to 2,826, while the overall recoveries hit 319,842.
Earlier on Tuesday, the gradual reopening of schools in Israel continued, with the resumption of the 5th and 6th grade classes in the cities and towns with low COVID-19 morbidity.
Israel's Corona Cabinet has decided to allow the reopening of major shopping malls, markets and museums, the state's prime minister's office and Ministry of Health said in a joint statement on Thursday.
These places will be reopened for the first time since the start of a full lockdown in Israel on Sept 18. The lockdown was imposed to contain a rapid resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commuters wearing face masks walk at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo on Nov 19, 2020. (BEHROUZ MEHRI / AFP)
The confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 2,502 to reach 140,288 as of Thursday night, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities.
The figure excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo earlier in the year.
Tokyo reported another increase Thursday in severe cases of COVID-19, to 60 from Wednesday’s 54, a day after the city asked residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors.
Tokyo reported 481 new infections in all on Thursday. Serious cases, which the city defines as those requiring a ventilator or ECMO machine, have surged almost 50 percent this week.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is using serious cases, rather than the total number of new infections, as her “red line” for requesting further limits on businesses. The first of those came Wednesday, when she asked bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m., with reports warning that closing times could be moved back earlier if severe cases continued to rise.
Koike and the national government have both said the next three weeks are crucial for combating the spread of the pandemic. Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan’s virus response, said the government could look at imposing another state of emergency if it isn’t brought under control.
Jordan announced 5,025 new coronavirus infections and 62 more deaths, pushing the tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 198,021 and the total deaths from the disease to 2,442. The total number of recoveries rose to 131,181.
This picture shows a general view of closed shops at the formerly popular tourist destination of Pantai Cenang on the holiday island of Langkawi, which has been recently closed to most outside visitors due to a partial lockdown set by authorities to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, on the northern Malaysian state of Kedah on Nov 18, 2020. (MOHD RASFAN / AFP)
Kuwait reported 422 new COVID-19 cases and one more death, raising the tally of infections to 141,217 and the death toll to 871 in the country.
The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced the recovery of 626 more patients, taking the total recoveries in the country to 134,033.
Malaysia will impose mandatory COVID -19 screening for 1.7 million foreign workers due to the high number of cases in the group, Star reports, citing Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Employers should get workers tested early and “pay the bill rather than waiting for the disease to spread, as factory operators will suffer greater losses when their premises are forced to shut down,” Ismail said.
The government also will impose a 50,000 ringgit (US$12,240) fine per worker on employers that house foreign workers in crowded spaces.
Malaysia reported 935 new COVID-19 infections, the health ministry said on Thursday, bringing the national total to 60,752.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that four of the new cases are imported and 931 are local transmissions.
Mongolia has registered 13 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, raising the national total to 712, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said on Thursday.
The latest confirmed are all locally transmitted cases, Amarjargal Ambaselmaa, head of the NCCD's surveillance department, said at a daily press conference.
The Asian country has so far reported 285 domestically transmitted cases, notably in Ulan Bator and the provinces of Selenge, Darkhan-Uul, Govisumber, Orkhon and Dornogovi.
More than half of the confirmed cases in the country are asymptomatic, the official said, and the youngest patient is 4 years old, while the oldest 90.
Pakistan shut its schools and postponed exams on Thursday to try to curb new coronavirus infections and a rise in the number of people in hospital with COVID-19.
Students, including those at higher educational institutions as well as in private schools, are expected to continue classes through distance learning until December 24, when schools are scheduled to go on winter break until January 11.
Pakistan reported 3,306 new cases on Wednesday, and 40 deaths from the pandemic, with 2,485 patients currently admitted in hospitals, according to officials. There have been 386,198 total cases in the country recorded so far, and 7,843 deaths.
The decision to close schools, officials have said, was based on an increase in the rate of positive test results in the country. The rate of people testing positive in June was as high as 23 percent, but dropped to a low of 1.7 percent by September. It has since begun to increase again, reaching 7.41 percent this week.
More than 19 percent of new cases were from educational institutions, where the rate of positive results had nearly doubled in one week to reach 3.3 percent, officials said on Monday.
Papua New Guinea
The Asian Development Bank on Thursday said it has approved a US$250 million loan to help finance the government of Papua New Guinea's (PNG) response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PNG declared a state of emergency on March 21, and the Manila-based bank said subsequent public health emergency, closure of its borders, lockdowns, and other response measures have put pressure on the country's health system and economy.
The Qatari health ministry announced 209 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 137,851.
Meanwhile, 252 more recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 134,950, while the fatalities went up by one to 237.
Saudi Arabia reported 326 new coronavirus cases and 14 more fatalities from the virus, raising the total infections in the kingdom to 356,067 and the death toll to 5,825. The tally of recoveries increased to 344,787.
Pedestrians wearing face masks cross a road in the Hongdae district of Seoul on Nov 22, 2020. (ED JONES / AFP)
Singapore confirmed its first case of locally transmitted COVID-19 in almost two weeks, the country’s Ministry of Health said in a statement.
The government said the case was identified in the community and there are no new cases in the foreign worker dormitories.
There are also four imported cases of who have been placed on stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore.
South Korea reported 583 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest since March, as the country grapples with a third wave of infections that has forced it to reimpose tough social distancing measures.
The spike is expected to wane next week as the impact of stricter social-distancing measures is felt.
The daily tally exceeded 500 for the first time since March 6, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), when South Korea battled the first major COVID-19 epidemic outside China.
The first wave emerged from meetings of a religious sect but most of the latest cases are occurring in offices, schools, gyms and small gatherings in the wider community around Seoul, making them harder to trace and contain.
“COVID-19 has arrived right beside you and your family,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a televised meeting of health officials.
Sri Lanka is in discussions with COVAX, the global procurement facility for vaccines to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, local media quoting Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said here Thursday.
Wanniarachchi informed the parliament that Sri Lanka had already joined the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) and the government was making efforts to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to 20 percent of Sri Lanka's population initially, which amounts to 4.2 million citizens.
Sri Lanka has to date detected 21,469 COVID-19 patients and 96 deaths.
The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Thursday reported 1,392 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the total number in the country to 424,297.
The DOH said 328 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 387,266. The death toll climbed to 8,242 after 27 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH added.
Carlito Galvez, the chief implementer of the Philippine national action plan to combat COVID-19, bared on Thursday that the Philippines will sign Friday a deal to buy 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) confirmed 1,297 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths, bringing the total infections in the UAE to 162,662 and the total death count to 563. The number of recoveries rose to 151,044.
Turkey recorded 28,351 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, including 6,814 with symptoms, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday, the first time since July Ankara has included asymptomatic cases in the total.
The total was by far the highest reported by the government since the outbreak began. The previous daily high, which only included symptomatic cases, was 7,381, recorded on Tuesday.
Ankara had only been reporting symptomatic cases since the summer, which critics said masked the true scale of the outbreak.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Koca unexpectedly said Ankara would begin announcing the total numbers.
Vietnam reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 infection on Thursday, bringing its total confirmed cases to 1,331 with 35 deaths from the disease so far, according to its Ministry of Health.
The new cases, who are all Vietnamese citizens, recently entered the country from abroad and were quarantined upon arrival, said the ministry.
It announced that 13 more patients have been given all-clear, raising the total cured cases in the country to 1,166 as of Thursday.
Meanwhile, over 16,200 people are being quarantined and monitored, the ministry said.
Vietnam has gone through 85 straight days without any new COVID-19 cases in the community, according to the ministry.
HONG KONG NEWS