Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left) receives his second injection of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Jan 27, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
CANBERRA / BEIRUT / YANGON / JAKATA－ Indonesian President Joko Widodo, 59, received his second dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd., one day after the country registered more than one million infections.
Nearly 250,000 healthcare workers have been given the first shot since the program started two weeks ago. The government is targeting the number to increase to between 900,000 and 1 million daily, Widodo, known as Jokowi, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 11,948 within one day to 1,024,298, with the death toll adding by 387 to 28,855, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
According to the ministry, 10,974 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 831,330.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday virtually inaugurated the country's COVID-19 vaccination drive in capital Dhaka with a nurse getting the first shot.
Four more government officials also received COVID-19 vaccine at the inaugural program.
Hasina greeted all the five first vaccine recipients, wishing them good health.
In her parliament speech earlier in the day, Hasina said the government has taken adequate measures to vaccinate over 16.9 million people on a priority basis.
The Maldives' Health Protection Agency (HPA) has announced that curfew will be re-imposed in the capital region of Greater Male due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, local media reported Wednesday.
Director General of Public Health Maimoona Aboobakuru announced that a curfew will be imposed between midnight and 4:00 a.m. in the Greater Male region, while all parties and public gatherings will be prohibited.
The renewed restrictions include a quarantine period for individuals travelling form the capital to other islands, as well as a 10-day quarantine period for Maldivians entering the country from abroad.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 25 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 59,391.
All of the new cases are imported cases.
On Wednesday, 18 more cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 59,104 have fully recovered from the infection, the ministry said.
Myanmar launched a COVID-19 vaccination programme on Wednesday, with healthcare staff and volunteer medical workers the first to receive shots of the AstraZeneca and Oxford University vaccine donated by neighbouring India.
Myanmar on Wednesday reported 434 new COVID-19 cases and seven more deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to 138,802 and the total deaths to 3,089.
The Southeast Asian country managed to contain the number of COVID-19 cases early in the pandemic, but is now fighting a second wave.
Last week, Myanmar received 1.5 million doses of the vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, amid a diplomatic drive by New Dehli to supply neighbouring countries just as regional rival China has also pledged vaccine consignments.
“This should create a situation to reduce the rate of infection, so it is such a relief for healthcare workers,” Tun Myint, a health ministry official overseeing vaccinations at the Yangon General Hospital, told reporters.
The number of daily new COVID-19 cases has dropped recently, though medical experts say it is unlikely to provide a full picture given relatively low testing rates.
Oman postponed administration of the second-dose of Pfizer’s vaccine due to delays from the manufacturer, the Ministry of Health said. The postponement comes just 10 days after the nation started giving second jabs of the shot. The Persian Gulf country has so far administered about 34,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Omani health ministry on Wednesday announced 167 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the sultanate to 133,574, the official Oman News Agency reported.
Meanwhile, 77 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall recoveries to 126,486, while one death was reported, pushing the tally up to 1,525, according to a ministry statement quoted by ONA.
A health worker receives a vaccine for the COVID-19 at the Ayeyarwady Covid Center in Yangon on Jan 27, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)
Thailand is set to further relax curbs to allow parts of its economy to reopen after local infections in some regions eased.
Schools in most provinces, including the capital Bangkok, may reopen from Feb 1 with some restrictions while restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons until 11 pm, said a spokesman for the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
Thailand said Wednesday that from next week, it will reopen most schools, excluding those in Samut Sakhon province, the epicenter of the country's latest COVID-19 outbreak.
The Ministry of Education ordered schools to close in 28 provinces and regions, which were declared as areas under maximum control, at the beginning of January.
Malaysia has begun a phase 3 clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the Institute of Medical Biology of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (IMBCAMS), the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
The initiative is a collaboration between the governments of Malaysia and China to generate scientific data in the development of the vaccine candidate to evaluate its safety and efficacy against COVID-19 infection, the ministry said in a statement.
The trials will involve nine government hospitals across Malaysia and 3,000 volunteers for a period of 13 months.
In his speech during the virtual launching ceremony, Malaysian Health Minister Adham Baba said Malaysia is very pleased to work with China, through IMBCAMS in contributing to the search for scientific evidence in the development of the inactivated vaccine.
Malaysia on Wednesday reported 3,680 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the national total to 194,114.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that six of the new cases are imported and 3,674 are local transmissions.
Another seven deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 707.
Fijians can not afford to find themselves at the back of the global queue when it comes to protecting themselves from COVID-19, said Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on Wednesday.
Speaking at the handover of the 22 new portable x-ray machines for the health facilities here on Wednesday, the Fijian prime minister said that the world now is preparing for the next phase of its pandemic response and Fiji is watching carefully.
"As viable vaccines have become available, wealthier nations aren't wasting time getting jabs in arms as quickly as they can. Those governments are clear-eyed about the stakes of immunising their populations. So are we," he said.
South Korean authorities were scrambling on Wednesday to contain coronavirus outbreaks centred around Christian schools as the country reported a jump in infections, dampening hopes of a speedy exit from a third wave of the pandemic.
A total of 297 COVID-19 cases had been traced to six churches and mission schools run by a Christian organisation, senior health official Yoon Tae-ho told a briefing.
More than 100 cases were confirmed overnight among people linked to a church and its mission school in Gwangju, about 270 kms south of Seoul, officials said. Another 171 cases had been linked to an affiliated school in the city of Daejeon since Jan 17.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the Daejeon mission school outbreak appeared to have been spreading for some time before it was detected.
The Christian organization responsible for the facilities, International Mission, was ordered to test everyone linked to 32 of its 40 schools and churches around the country.
South Korea reported 559 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Tuesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 76,429.
The daily caseload rose above 500 in 10 days owing to new cluster infections linked to a Christian missionary group in Daejeon, about 160 km south of Seoul, that has a nationwide network.
Australia is on track for a 10th day of no new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, allowing its most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) to relax coronavirus restrictions after controlling a fast-spreading cluster.
NSW has recorded no local cases for 10 days after low single digit numbers earlier in January. Victoria state, which is hosting the Australia Open tennis tournament, has gone three weeks without a local case.
Other states and territories which have mostly been COVID-free, some for months, will report daily case numbers later on Wednesday, but are expected to report zero local infections.
Australia’s success in curbing small outbreaks, with a total 22,000 local cases since March 2020 and 909 deaths, comes at a time when global coronavirus cases are edging towards 100 million with the death toll surpassing 2 million.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklien announced coronavirus restrictions would be eased from Friday, including rules around mask wearing and allowing more people in house parties, weddings, funerals and places of worship.
The restrictions had kicked in late last year to successfully curb virus clusters in Sydney’s northern beaches and western suburbs. The outbreaks saw other states and territories close borders or restrict travel from NSW.
The Australian government has launched an advertising campaign seeking to reassure Australians of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt said on Wednesday that the 24-million-Australian dollar (US$18.5-million) campaign would be rolled out across TV, radio, print and digital media.
The European Union shuts its door to visitors from Japan following a surge in coronavirus cases there, according to an EU official.
Japan is likely to extend its state of emergency set to expire Feb 7, Kyodo reported, citing several unidentified people. An option being considered is to extend the emergency until the end of February.
The removal of Japan as a result of increased virus cases in the country leaves just Australia, China, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand as approved places of departure.
Japan held the first COVID-19 vaccination simulation in the city of Kawasaki near Tokyo on Wednesday, as the country prepares to begin the vaccination process by late February.
Japan on Wednesday reported 3,965 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country's total tally of infections to 377,007, as the government mulls extending the state of emergency currently in place for 11 prefectures including Tokyo.
Health officials said 72 more people died from COVID-19-related illnesses, taking the latest nationwide death toll to 5,383 people.
The Indian federal government on Wednesday extended COVID-19 guidelines by one month, urging people to continue wearing of face masks, maintaining hand-hygiene and social distancing.
The extended guidelines, which are presently implemented till the January end, shall remain in force up to February 28.
"The main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of COVID-19 which is visible in the steady decline in number of active and new cases in the country over the last four months," said an official statement issued by the federal Ministry of Home (Internal Security) Affairs.
India reported 10,676,838 pandemic cases till Tuesday morning as the world's COVID-19 cases surpass 100 million, according to the health ministry.
The country's latest death toll due to the pandemic stands at 153,587, which is over 7 percent of the worldwide deaths.
But, amid the pandemic outbreak the silver lining is that the incidence of COVID-19 has been on the decline in this south Asian country with a population of over 1.3 billion over the past few weeks.
After more than seven months, the new cases registered in a single day has fallen below the 10,000-mark. As many as 9,102 new cases were detected across the country on Monday.
There has been a remarkable improvement in terms of daily COVID-19 deaths too, as 117 people died on Monday which is the lowest in the past nearly eight months.
Israel's Ministry of Health reported 7,889 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the tally of confirmed cases in the country to 613,286.
The death toll from the COVID-19 in Israel reached 4,501 after 23 new fatalities were added, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 1,174 to 1,173, out of 1,799 hospitalized patients.
The total recoveries rose to 534,462, with 4,876 newly recovered cases, while the active cases increased to 74,323.
According to the ministry, the number of people vaccinated against the COVID-19 in Israel has surpassed 2.72 million, or 29.2 percent of its total population, since the vaccination campaign began on Dec. 20, 2020.
Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab urged on Wednesday the Lebanese people to stop destroying public properties and attacking the Lebanese army during their protests against the total lockdown and political deadlock in the country, the National News Agency reported.
"The government is neither formed nor disrupted by burning tires, blocking roads, attacking state institutions, and targeting internal security forces and the Lebanese army," Diab said during a meeting for the ministerial committee in charge of the vaccination campaign in Lebanon.
Lebanon on Tuesday registered the highest 73 daily deaths from COVID-19, raising the total death toll to 2,447, the Health Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the total coronavirus infections increased by 3,505 to 285,754, the Ministry added.
Mohammad Haidar, advisor to the Health Minister, said on Tuesday that the need for ventilators has increased tremendously in the past few days with 50 to 100 patients in need of oxygen on a daily basis.
Lebanon is in contact with France in hope of securing the needed medical equipment for hospitals, he noted.
The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Tuesday 804 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 615,380.
The ministry also reported 10 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,010. And 1,625 cases recovered during the day, bringing the total recoveries to 584,752.
A total of 5,447,013 tests have been carried out across the country since the outbreak in February 2020, with 33,976 done during the day, it added.
Iraqi Minister of Health Hassan al-Tamimi told the official Iraqi News Agency that the ministry had taken the necessary measures to develop the health infrastructure, which contributed to controlling the coronavirus pandemic.
Iranian health authorities announced 6,420 new COVID-19 confirmed cases on Tuesday, raising the country's overall count to 1,385,706, state TV reported.
Of the newly infected in the past 24 hours, 590 had to be hospitalized, said Sima Sadat Lari, the spokeswoman for Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education, at her daily briefing.
She said 79 new deaths from the coronavirus were registered, taking the death toll in the country to 57,560, while 1,177,367 COVID-19 patients have recovered or been released from Iranian hospitals, but 4,038 others are currently in critical condition.
So far, 9,015,376 tests for the coronavirus have been carried out in Iran, the spokeswoman added.
The Qatari Health Ministry on Tuesday announced 299 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 149,595.
Meanwhile, 143 more people recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries in Qatar to 145,124, while the total fatalities remained unchanged at 248 for the ninth day, the ministry said in a statement quoted by the official Qatar News Agency.
A total of 1,362,781 people in Qatar have taken lab tests for COVID-19 so far.
The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported 2,245 new COVID-19 cases, the highest in more than two months in the Southeast Asian country.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 518,407.
The death toll climbed to 10,481 after 95 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 140 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 475,542.
The Philippine government announced that all incoming passengers will be required to stay in a quarantine facility upon arrival starting from Feb. 1.
HONG KONG NEWS