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Tuesday, January 19, 2021, 22:43
M'sia reports 3,631 new cases, expands curbs to counter spread
By Agencies
Tuesday, January 19, 2021, 22:43 By Agencies

A security guard in mask, rubber glove and face shield stands next to lanterns decorations used during Lunar New Year celebrations outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 18, 2021. (MOHD RASFAN / AFP)

TOKYO / MINSK / DHAKA / SEOUL / DUBAI / KUALA LUMPUR / NEW DELHI / JAKARTA / WILLINGTON / MANILA / HANOI - Malaysia will expand tighter movement restriction measures by including most of the country to contain the spread of COVID-19, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Tuesday.

Ismail, who coordinated the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions, told a press briefing the states of Kedah, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang and Terengganu will see tighter restrictions imposed from Jan 22 to Feb 4.

The Health Ministry reported 3,631 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the national total to 165,371. Another 14 deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 619. Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah told a separate press conference that seven of the new cases are imported and 3,624 are local transmissions.


Afghanistan recorded 137 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing its total tally to 54,278, including 6,864 active cases, its Ministry of Public Health said.

"Laboratories conducted 2,097 tests during the past 24 hours, out of the total tests 137 were positive COVID-19 cases in 22 provinces of Afghanistan's 34 provinces," the ministry said in a statement.

Laboratories across Afghanistan have completed 230,202 tests since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in February.


Bangladesh reported 702 new COVID-19 cases and 20 new deaths on Tuesday, making the tally at 529,031 and death toll at 7,942, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.

The official data showed that 15,097 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.


Cambodia on Tuesday reported two more imported COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the kingdom to 441, said a health ministry (MoH) statement.

The new cases were a one-year-old Indonesian boy and a 31-year-old Cambodian woman, the statement said.

The boy is the son of an Indonesian couple who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Cambodia from Indonesia via Singapore on Jan. 12, it said, adding that the female patient is a migrant worker returning from Thailand on Jan. 15.


Despite the impacts of COVID-19 and the tropical cyclone Yasa, the new school year in the South Pacific island nation of Fiji kicked off on Tuesday with nearly 200,000 students returning to schools.

According to the Fijian Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, 13,099 Fijian teachers set foot on school campus on Monday to make preparations for Tuesday's arrival of the 195,883 students, of which, 5,794 students begin their formal learning journey for the first time.

Welcoming Fijian students back to school, Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said on Monday that Fiji has been facing the twin crises of COVID-19 and cyclone Yasa, and that every school that re-opens is a victory for the island nation.


India's vaccine maker Bharat Biotech Tuesday issued a set of cautionary guidelines for people with certain conditions, highlighting those getting vaccinated should consult with their vaccine provider and preferably avoid getting the Covaxin shot.

The fact sheet issued by the company said those suffering from allergies, fever, or a bleeding disorder, among other conditions, should take advice from their doctor/vaccine provider, and possibly steer clear of taking the Covaxin shot.

The move came after India's federal health ministry Monday confirmed 580 cases of adverse reactions following COVID-19 vaccination, among them seven persons have been hospitalized.

According to the ministry, two persons have died but none of the deaths is related to vaccines.

India's COVID-19 tally rose to 10,581,837 on Tuesday as 10,064 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the health ministry.

According to the official data, the death toll mounted to 152,556 as 137 COVID-19 patients died since Monday morning.


The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 10,365 within one day to 927,380, with the death toll adding by 308 to 26,590, the country's Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.

Eleven more Indonesians overseas were confirmed positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 2,831, according to Indonesia's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.

All the new positive cases were reported in South Korea.

Besides, nine more Indonesians abroad have recovered, taking the total recoveries to 1,988, or 70 percent of the accumulative cases.

Meanwhile, 674 Indonesians outside the country are under medical treatment, and the death tally remains at 169.


Iran's health ministry reported 5,917 daily COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the total nationwide infections to 1,342,134.

The pandemic has so far claimed 56,973 lives in Iran, up by 87 in the past 24 hours, said Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education, during her daily briefing.

READ MORE: India launches 'one of world's largest' vaccination drives


Israel is giving weekly data updates on its COVID-19 outbreak to vaccine maker Pfizer under a collaboration agreement that may help other countries fine-tune their inoculation campaigns and achieve “herd immunity”, officials said.

Israelis began receiving first shots of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Dec. 19 in one of the world’s fastest vaccination rollouts.

The number of unemployed in Israel surpassed 657,000 and the unemployment rate rose to 15.9 percent on Monday as the ongoing national lockdown leaves deeper dents on the country's economy. 

The country's unemployment skyrocketed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It went from 3.9 percent last February to a peak of 27.5 percent at the end of April 2020.

Also in the day, Israel's Ministry of Health reported 9,874 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 557,563.

The death toll from COVID-19 in Israel reached 4,040 with 51 new fatalities, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 1,177 to 1,161 out of 1,917 hospitalized patients.

ALSO READ: Indonesia sees nearly 10,000 new cases, virus spreads to all regions

This picture taken on Jan 9, 2021 shows volunteers of non-profit organisation Tenohasi preparing medical necessities for those in need at a park in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo. (PHILIP FONG / AFP


Japan’s health ministry said Monday that it found three patients infected with the new coronavirus variant first detected in the UK, who have no travel history to the country.

All three, who are residents of Shizuoka prefecture in central Japan, developed symptoms in early January and are currently self-isolating at home.

Takeda Pharmaceutical plans to start the clinical trials of Novavax’s Covid vaccine candidate around Feb. 20, Yomiuri reported, citing the Japanese drugmaker.

Japan has confirmed 330,715 COVID-19 infections as of Monday, while the toll stands at 4,305, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University. 


Jordan on Monday reported eight deaths related to the COVID-19, which is the lowest daily toll in more than two months, the country's health ministry said.

Monday also saw the country add 1,030 new infections, bringing the total number to 315,544. The overall death toll rose to 4,153, the ministry added.

A total of 56 COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals on Monday, taking the number of patients currently receiving care in hospitals to 445, the ministry said, adding that 57 recovered patients left hospitals.


Kuwait's COVID-19 cases increased by 467 to 158,244 on the same day, while the death toll rose by one to 948, said the Kuwaiti health authorities.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 354 more patients, taking the total recoveries to 151,496.


Lebanon registered on Monday 3,144 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of cases to 255,956, the health ministry reported. The death toll from the virus increased by 40 to 1,959.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Monday 797 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 609,029.

The ministry also reported nine new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 12,953, and 1,769 more recovered cases, bringing the total recoveries to 571,198.

A member of the parliamentary health committee, Jawad al-Musawi, said that "the coronavirus vaccine will enter Iraq within two months and will be distributed free of charge to all people."

Al-Musawi said that the vaccine "will first be distributed on health personnel who are on the frontline to confront the disease, elderly, people with chronic diseases, and members of the security forces."

Cars queue for hours at a COVID-19 testing station setup at Eden Park, National Sports Stadium, in Auckland on Aug 14, 2020. (DAVID ROWLAND / AFP)

New Zealand 

To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the New Zealand government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers except Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Tuesday.

As required, all travelers will need to present a negative testing result within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time.

The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59 p.m. local time (1059 GMT) next Monday, to minimize disruption for those passengers with imminent departures.

Other countries will be considered for exclusion if their situations change, Hipkins said in a statement.

"As we signaled last week, given the high rates of infection in many countries, most global air routes are of critical concern for the foreseeable future," Hipkins said.


The Omani health ministry on Monday announced 221 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Sultanate to 132,011.

Meanwhile, 146 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall recoveries to 124,213, while two people died, pushing the death toll up to 1,514.


The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has approved a vaccine by China's Sinopharm for emergency use amid rising cases of COVID-19 in the country.

A handout by DRAP on its official website late Monday read that Sinopharm, one of the two vaccines approved by the authority, has been given emergency use authorization after evaluating its safety and quality.

The authority said the authorization will be reviewed every quarter keeping in view further data regarding safety, efficacy and quality.

A vaccine manufactured by British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has also been given the authorization earlier, the handout said.


The Qatari Health Ministry on Monday announced 227 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 147,504.

Meanwhile, 157 more recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 144,015, while two reportedly died, pushing the death tally up to 248.


Singapore will defer reopening some nightclubs and karaoke outlets until further notice in an attempt to curb the risk of coronavirus spread following an increase in the number of community cases.

The reopening of those nightlife establishments under a pilot program was due to start this month but has now been postponed given that the enclosed spaces would allow people to come into close contact for prolonged periods of time, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a joint statement on Tuesday. Two nightclubs and 10 karaoke outlets were shortlisted for the pilot.

“It is uncertain when the pilot may be able to commence, given the dynamic public health situation,” the ministries said. “Agencies will review the commencement of the pilots at a suitable juncture.”

Reviving the nightlife industry, some of which have remained shut for many months, was an attempt by Singapore to resume some normalcy after various restrictions managed to contain the spread in the community to near zero. Still, cases have ticked up in the past couple of weeks, although the majority of them are imported. As of Tuesday, there were 30 new cases, out of which four were locally transmitted, the Health Ministry said in its preliminary daily update.

The pilot for bars and pubs, on the other hand, will go ahead for now as it has already started. Authorities continue to monitor the situation closely, according to the government statement.

Singapore is seeking to set up 36 vaccination centers from February to inoculate its population, the Straits Times reported, citing tender documents. The government is also looking to set up 10 mobile teams to provide mass vaccinations for sites such as nursing homes, according to the newspaper.

South Korea

South Korea reported 386 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours versus 389 the previous day, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. The number of daily confirmed cases remained below 600 for a ninth day.

Twenty-six more US soldiers and five civilians in South Korea tested positive for COVID-19, the US Forces Korea (USFK) said Tuesday.

The USFK said in a statement that 31 USFK-affiliated individuals were confirmed with the COVID-19 after arriving in South Korea between Dec 29 and Jan 18.


Thailand on Tuesday confirmed 171 new COVID-19 cases, mostly detected through active testing, according to Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Of the new cases, 158 were domestic infections while 13 others referred to those who had returned from abroad and tested positive in this country, CCSA spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin told a press conference.

A city hall employee (left) takes part in a vaccination simulation in Manila on Jan 19, 2021, ahead of the expected arrival of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines in the capital city next month. (TED ALJIBE / AFP)

The Philippine

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration has allowed China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd to hold clinical trials in the Southeast Asian nation for its coronavirus vaccine, the regulator’s head Eric Domingo said.

The local regulator is still waiting for Sinovac to submit documents on late-stage trials before processing its separate application for emergency use in the Philippines, Domingo said in an interview with state-run PTV-4.

The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Tuesday 1,357 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 504,084.

The death toll climbed to 9,978 after 69 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 324 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 466,249.


The United Arab Emirates has now administered more than two million coronavirus vaccine doses, inoculating nearly a fifth of its population as it tries to emerge from the pandemic that has ravaged the key tourism industry.

The Gulf nation is home to about 10 million people, mostly foreigners, and has the second-highest per-capita inoculation rate in the world after Israel. The government’s website showed the country administered 93,846 doses on Tuesday, taking the total to 2.07 million.

The oil-rich country has approved a vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm, as well as Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s shot, and has since rolled out an aggressive vaccination campaign.

Key officials, including Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, have said they’ve been vaccinated.

While Sinopharm’s vaccines are offered across the country, the Pfizer shot for now is available only for Dubai-based residents who fit certain criteria.

The two million milestone comes as the country reported a record 3,491 cases on Tuesday. Infections have almost tripled since November as a majority of COVID-19-related restrictions were lifted, though masks remain mandatory.

The UAE’s extensive vaccination campaign is especially key to the business hub of Dubai, whose economy relies on travel and tourism. The emirate is home to more than 3 million people and aims to vaccinate 70 percent of its residents by the year-end, Reuters reported in December.

Meanwhile, the UAE aims to cover 50 percent of its overall population by April.


Turkey started vaccinating citizens residing or working in nursing homes against COVID-19 on Tuesday, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced.

Speaking at a meeting with the provincial health directors on Monday, Koca said the vaccinations would also cover people in disabled care centers and care homes, as well as citizens aged 90 and above.

The country started mass vaccination of health workers for COVID-19 on Jan 14 after the authorities approved the emergency use of a Chinese vaccine.

Turkey added on Monday 5,862 new COVID-19 cases, including 749 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 2,392,963, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 164 to 24,161, while the total recoveries climbed to 2,270,769 after 7,905 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours.


Vietnam reported one new case of COVID-19 infection on Tuesday, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 1,540 with 35 deaths, according to its Ministry of Health.

The new case is a 20-year-old Vietnamese man who recently entered the country from abroad and was quarantined upon arrival.

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