Workers unload Sinovac vaccines from a truck under police escort in Surabaya on January 4, 2021, as the distribution of as many as 3 million Sinovac doses goes out to various provinces. (PHOTO / AFP)
TOKYO / BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN / NEW DELHI / JAKARTA / BAGHDAD / JERUSALEM / BISHKEK / BEIRUT / ULAN BATOR / YANGON / ISLAMABAD / RAMALLAH / DOHA / SINGAPORE / COLOMBO / BANGKOK / SEOUL / MANILA / HANOI - Indonesia’s mass vaccination programme is set to start next week, a senior minister said on Monday, pending authorisation from the country’s food and drug agency (BPOM), as about 700,000 doses of vaccines have already been widely distributed.
Currently battling one of Asia’s most stubborn coronavirus epidemics, Indonesia has secured more than 329 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, most notably from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, and AstraZeneca.
Those to be used in the first phase are CoronaVac, the vaccine of China’s Sinovac, of which Indonesia has received 3 million doses.
Airlangga Hartarto, the country’s chief economic minister, said the vaccination programme is scheduled to start next week, pending data from BPOM, which he said draws findings from the clinical trials in Brazil and Turkey.
The vaccine will be administered for free across the archipelago, with the rollout expected to be completed within 15 months. The government expected the programme to cost more than 74 trillion rupiah ($5.33 billion), Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.
Indonesia’s state-owned drugmaker Bio Farma has already dispatched about 714,000 CoronaVac doses to the country’s 32 provinces, it said on Monday.
Thailand’s prime minister on Monday urged the public to stay home to help contain the country’s biggest coronavirus outbreak yet and avoid a strict lockdown, as authorities confirmed a daily record 745 new infections.
The government has declared 28 provinces, including Bangkok, as high-risk zones and asked people to work from home and avoid gathering or travel beyond their provinces, as infection numbers climb in the wake of outbreak first detected last month at a seafood market near the capital.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the government was mindful of the potential economic damage from strong containment measures.
“We don’t want to lock down the entire country because we know what the problems are, therefore can you all lock down yourselves?” he told reporters.
“This is up to everyone, if we don’t want to get infected just stay home for 14 to 15 days, if you think like this then things will be safe, easier for screening,” Prayuth added.
There was also one new death confirmed on Monday. Of the 745 cases included in the day’s total, 541 had been reported on Sunday by provincial authorities.
Thailand has recorded 8,439 coronavirus cases and 65 deaths overall, among the lowest numbers in Asia.
Most new cases are linked to a migrant worker cluster which started in Samut Sakhon, a province southwest of Bangkok, and led to infections in more than half of the country’s provinces.
Thailand is expected to buy two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, the World Health Organization (WHO) in Thailand said Sunday.
Australian authorities are concerned about a growing cluster of cases linked to a liquor store and supermarket in western Sydney, and are urging people with even the mildest of symptoms to come forward and get tested.
Two new local cases were detected overnight in the suburb of Berala, where potentially thousands of people who visited the stores in the past two weeks have been urged to isolate until they test negative. Mask-wearing across Sydney, a city of 5 million people, is now mandatory in most indoor venues, as authorities try to contain other clusters across the city.
Australia's plan to rollout coronavirus vaccines is "ahead of schedule", Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
As of Monday afternoon, there had been 28,504 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were three and 18 respectively, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.
Brunei reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday with the national tally of cases standing at 172.
According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, no more recovery was recorded, maintaining the total number of recovered cases at 149. There are 20 active patients still being treated at the National Isolation Center.
A total of 31 imported cases have been confirmed since the last local infection case on May 6, 2020. At present, Brunei has recorded 243 days without COVID-19 local infection cases.
India's COVID-19 tally rose to 10,340,469 on Monday as 16,504 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry.
According to the data, the death toll mounted to 149,649 as 214 COVID-19 patients died since Sunday morning.
There are still 243,953 active cases in the country, while 9,946,867 people have been discharged so far from hospitals after medical treatment.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday said the country's inoculation drive against COVID-19 is set to begin.
"The country is proud of the contributions of its scientists and technicians," Modi said while speaking at India's metrology conclave.
The announcement came a day after India's Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved two vaccines for restricted emergency use. The drugs regulator on Sunday approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine -- Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.
India's health ministry said on Monday that 38 cases of mutant COVID-19 strain detected in Britain have been traced in the country.
"A total of 38 samples have been found to be positive with the new variant genome," the ministry said.
As per the health ministry, 19 patients have been found in New Delhi followed by Bengaluru where 10 patients were detected. In Pune five cases were reported, followed by Hyderabad where three cases were traced. One patient has been detected in Kolkata.
The positive samples are being tested at 10 SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) labs across India.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Sunday 741 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest since last June, bringing the total nationwide infections to 597,774.
The ministry also reported five new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 12,834, and 1,974 more recovered cases, bringing the total recoveries to 543,720.
A healthcare worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine to an Israeli woman at Clalit Health Services, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on Jan 3, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Israel's Ministry of Health reported 4,573 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total infections to 438,372.
The death toll of the virus in Israel increased to 3,412 with 28 new fatalities, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 739 to 761, out of 1,295 hospitalized patients.
Israel's governmental hospitals called for immediately tightening the COVID-19 restrictions after the recent jump in hospitalized patients.
The ministry also reported seven new cases of the new coronavirus variant. This increased the total number of patients who tested positive for the new strain in Israel to 30.
The Japanese government said on Monday it was considering declaring a state of emergency in and around Tokyo as coronavirus cases climb, casting fresh doubt over whether it can push ahead with the summer Olympics and keep economic damage to a minimum.
Citing government sources, Kyodo News reported that preparations were being made for a state of emergency that would take effect by Friday and last about a month.
Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, which have requested an emergency declaration, asked residents to refrain from non-essential, non-urgent outings after 8 p.m. from Friday until at least the end of the month, and said eateries must close by that time.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, in charge of coronavirus countermeasures, said the government would make a decision on an emergency “as soon as possible” after listening to experts.
Japan registered a record 4,520 new cases on Dec. 31, about half in and around Tokyo, but Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has resisted demands for tougher action.
Asked to explain the potential change of heart, he told a news conference: “Even during the three days of the New Year’s holidays, cases didn’t go down in the greater Tokyo area ... We felt that a stronger message was needed.”
Suga did not say when the government would decide, or what restrictions would follow. A state of emergency last spring lasted more than a month, shutting down schools and non-essential businesses.
A police officer (left) wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus walks along Sensoji temple shopping street in the Asakusa district of Tokyo on Jan 2, 2021. (BEHROUZ MEHRI / AFP)
Kyrgyzstan reported on Monday 83 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, raising the tally of infections to 81,388.
The Republican Headquarters for Combating COVID-19 reported the recovery of 165 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 76,728.
One more new death was reported over the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide death toll to 1,360, it added.
Lebanon registered on Sunday 2,870 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections to 189,278, while death toll increased by 10 to 1,499, the Health Ministry said.
Charaf Abou Charaf, head of Lebanese Order of Physicians, said that the number of COVID-19 infections is increasing rapidly in Lebanon which makes it impossible to secure hospitals' beds for new infections.
Abou Charaf added that the medical staff has become scarce in Lebanon, noting that 200 doctors are in quarantine while 15 doctors are currently staying in the intensive care units.
Pakistan registered 1,895 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking its national caseload to 488,529, according to official statistics on Monday.
Meanwhile, the country reported 39 more deaths from the virus, raising the death toll to 10,350, showed data issued by the government of Pakistan in its latest update.
Palestine on Sunday started taking samples in the West Bank to test for the new strain of the novel coronavirus, said a senior Palestinian official.
Director General of Supportive Medical Services at the Palestinian Health Ministry told reports during a press conference held in Ramallah that his ministry has not recorded any cases infected with the new strain.
"However, we may record cases infected with the new strain because it has already arrived in Israel and the Palestinians are in contact with Israelis," the official said.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian health ministry reported 1,155 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 159,034.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 35 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 58,697.
All Of the new cases are imported cases.
On Sunday, 11 more cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 58,487 have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities, the ministry said.
A man holds onto a bull during a ceremony marking the opening of the stock market at the Korea Exchange in Seoul on Jan 4, 2021, on the first trading day of the new year. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)
South Korea expanded a ban on private gatherings larger than four people to the whole country, and extended unprecedented social distancing rules in greater Seoul as the number of daily cases bounced back to more than 1,000 in four days.
South Korea has been experiencing a prolonged surge in infections during the latest wave, which has led to a sharp increase in deaths.
The country reported 1,020 new coronavirus cases as of Sunday midnight, bringing the total to 64,264 infections, with 981 deaths, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Only 657 cases reported over the weekend. A health official had said that the recent third wave of infections is being contained.
The extended social-distancing rules imposed on Seoul and neighbouring areas include curbs on churches, restaurants, cafes, ski resorts and other venues.
Seventeen more US soldiers and six civilians in South Korea tested positive for COVID-19, the US Forces Korea (USFK) said Monday.
The USFK said in a statement that 23 USFK-affiliated individuals were confirmed with COVID-19 after arriving in South Korea between Dec 16 and 31.
Eight service members and one dependent arrived at Osan Air Base on US government-chartered flights from the United States on Dec 16, 21 and 29. The Osan Air Base is located in Pyeongtaek, 70 km south of Seoul.
Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry on Sunday said that an estimated 68,000 overseas Sri Lankans were awaiting repatriation due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it has been carrying out the task of repatriation for almost a year and to date 60,470 Sri Lankans, including pilgrims, students, officials of government or armed forces, migrant workers, short term visitors, seafarers and cases on compassionate grounds have been repatriated from abroad by the ministry through the Sri Lanka missions overseas.
The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Monday reported 959 new confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, bringing the total number in the country to 478,761.
The death toll climbed to 9,263 after six more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 26 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 448,279.
The DOH said the low daily number of cases reported on Monday "is due to a decrease in the number of patients seen in COVID-19 laboratories during the New Year."
Vietnam has placed an order to buy some 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine made by the British company AstraZeneca, a Vietnamese health official said on Monday, while also seeking to purchase vaccines from other sources.
Vietnam also expects to purchase COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility, an international initiative co-led by the World Health Organization and partners to ensure equitable global access to vaccines, said the health official.
Vietnam reported three new cases of COVID-19 infection on Monday, bringing its total confirmed cases to 1,497 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.
The ministry also announced that 1,339 patients have been given the all-clear as of Monday.
Vietnam’s heath ministry has proposed suspending or limiting incoming flights from at least 34 countries and territories that have detected cases of the new COVID-19 variant first found in Britain, the government said on Monday.
The ministry did not say which countries would be subject to the ban.
The proposal has been submitted to the prime minister and is awaiting approval after Vietnam confirmed its first imported case of the new coronavirus variant on Saturday.
Bangladesh reported 910 new COVID-19 cases and 24 new deaths on Monday, making the tally at 516,929 and death toll at 7,650, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.
The official data showed that 12,096 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.
The total number of recovered patients in the country stood at 461,515 including 917 new recoveries on Monday, said the DGHS.
According to the official data, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh is now 1.48 percent and the current recovery rate is 89.28 percent.
Bangladesh recorded the highest daily new cases of 4,019 on July 2 and the highest number of deaths of 64 on June 30 last year.
Malaysia reported 1,741 new COVID-19 infections, the health ministry said on Monday, bringing the national total to 120,818.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press briefing that eight of the new cases are imported and 1,733 are local transmissions.
Another seven new deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 501.
Another 1,010 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total cured and discharged to 98,228, or 81.3 percent of all cases.
Of the remaining 22,089 active cases, 122 are being held in intensive care units and 53 of those are in need of assisted breathing.
The Mongolian government on Monday decided to further extend the current COVID-19 lockdown here in the country's capital.
Yangu Sodbaatar, deputy prime minister, announced that the strict all-day lockdown in Ulan Bator, scheduled to end on Jan. 6, is extended until Jan. 11 to curb resurging local COVID-19 cases.
The source of some recently confirmed cases in Ulan Bator has not yet been identified, according to the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases.
Mongolia recorded 23 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 1,286, the National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Monday.
Cambodia has started reopening schools and museums as it relaxes a six-week lockdown following a coronavirus outbreak late last year, marking a contrast with some neighbouring countries that are facing new restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases.
The Southeast Asian country of just over 16 million people, one of the least impacted by the novel coronavirus with just 382 infections and no deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, saw a rare cluster of cases in November.
On Monday, students wearing masks lined up for temperature checks and hand washing before being allowed to enter the Sovannaphumi primary school in the capital Phnom Penh.
While private schools have started reopening this week, students at public schools are due to return next week.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Myanmar has increased to 126,935 as of Monday, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.
A total of 590 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the country on Monday.
The death toll has reached 2,744 with 16 newly reported deaths on Monday in the country, the release said.
According to the ministry's figures, a total of 110,200 patients have been discharged from hospitals and over 1.88 million samples have been tested so far.
The Qatari Health Ministry on Monday announced 207 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 144,644, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
Meanwhile, 117 more recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 141,925, while the fatalities remained 245 for a week now, according to a ministry statement quoted by QNA.
A total of 1,257,197 persons in Qatar have taken lab tests for COVID-19 so far.
The Omani Health Ministry on Monday announced 180 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 129,584, the official Oman News Agency (ONA) reported.
Meanwhile, 106 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall recoveries to 122,372, while one reportedly died, pushing the tally up to 1,502, according to a ministry statement quoted by ONA.
The Public Health Ministry of Afghanistan has registered 102 new COVID-19 positive cases over the past 24 hours, totaling the number of patients affected with the disease to 53,011 in the country.
Seven patients died over the period, bringing the number of COVID-19 related deaths to 2,237 since the outbreak of the disease in February in Afghanistan, said a statement of the ministry released here Monday.
According to the statement, 125 patients recovered over the past 24 hours, totaling the number of the recovered to 42,530 in the country.
HONG KONG NEWS