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Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 17:53
Philippines says vaccine orders enough to hit 2021 goal
By Agencies
Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 17:53 By Agencies

In this Sept 11, 2020 file photo, a laboratory technicians handles vials as part of filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, in Anagni, southeast of Rome. (VINCENZO PINTO / AFP)

SEOUL / CARIO / BANGKOK / JERUSALEM / MANILA - The Philippines said it has enough orders of coronavirus vaccines in the pipeline to reach its goal of inoculating most of its population this year, even as it expects a supply crunch in the first half.

The Southeast Asian nation is negotiating for as many as 170 million vaccine doses, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a televised briefing on Tuesday. A fourth of the vaccine supply will come from the World Health Organization-backed COVAX Facility, with first shipments expected later this month.

The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Tuesday 1,391 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 552,246.

The death toll climbed to 11,524 after seven more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said, adding that 45 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 511,796.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million people, has tested over 7.86 million people since the disease emerged in January last year

Australia 

Australia has approved the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on Tuesday approved the vaccine for use in people over the age of 18, but said that the decision to vaccinate those over the age of 65 should be assessed on a "case-by-case basis."

It is the second vaccine for COVID-19 given the green light by the TGA after it approved the Pfizer vaccine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the AstraZeneca vaccine would make a "huge difference" to the lives of Australians.

"Safety is our number one priority and our own medical experts have carefully made their assessments before giving approval of the vaccine," he said.

The Australian government has acquired 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 50 million of which will be manufactured locally by biotechnology company CSL.

Burnei

The Brunei government said on Monday that to date, as many as 11 students residing in Brunei Hall, London, have been confirmed as positive COVID-19 cases with three cases still active.

According to a statement from the sultanate's Ministry of Education, all Brunei students who reside in Brunei Hall, London, have undergone swab tests and isolation in the student room, respectively. To date, a total of 31 students have completed their isolation term since the first case was reported.

The ministry said that apart from the three active cases experiencing mild symptoms, all Brunei students are in good condition.

READ MORE: Virus: Inoculations to start as vaccines arrive in Australia, NZ

India

India's COVID-19 tally rose to 10,925,710 on Tuesday as 9,121 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry.

According to the official data, the death toll mounted to 155,813 with 81 new deaths.

There are still 136,872 active cases in the country, while 10,633,025 people have been discharged so far from hospitals after medical treatment.

The number of active cases dipped over the past 24 hours after being on the rise during the previous three consecutive days.

Israel 

Israel plans to ease more restrictions on businesses on Sunday and reopen hotels and gyms to those fully vaccinated or deemed immune after recovering from COVID-19, the government said.

With nearly 43 percent of citizens having received at least one shot of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine, Israel has pushed ahead with a gradual relaxing of lockdown measures imposed on Dec. 27.

Malls, open-air markets, libraries and museums will be allowed to reopen on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement on Monday.

Also on Sunday, Israelis in possession of a “Green Pass” - a certificate of presumed COVID-19 immunity, displayed on an Israeli Health Ministry app - will be allowed entry to leisure facilities such as gyms and hotels, the statement said.

The health ministry reported 5,647 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the tally of confirmed cases in the country to 729,373.

The death toll from the COVID-19 in Israel reached 5,406 after 28 new fatalities were added, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 1,008 to 979, out of 1,516 hospitalized patients.

Japan

Japan on Monday reported 965 new daily COVID-19 cases, with the death toll rising by 72 to a total of 7,055 people.

The country's cumulative total of infection now stands at 418,458, with Tokyo, the hardest hit by the pandemic among Japan's 47 prefectures, contributing an additional 266 infections on Monday.

The Tokyo metropolitan government said that Monday's daily infection count marked the ninth successive day that new cases have remained below the 500-mark.

The latest figure in the capital of 14 million is also the first time the tally has dipped below 300 new daily cases since Monday last week, the local government said.

Kuwait

Kuwait reported on Monday 823 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 178,524.

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced six more deaths, taking the death toll to 1,009.

The tally of recoveries in Kuwait rose by 772 to 166,791, while 10,724 coronavirus patients were receiving treatment, it said.

Abdullah Al-Sanad, the ministry's spokesman, urged people in Kuwait to comply with the precautionary measures against the coronavirus and maintain social distancing.

On Sunday, the ministry said that Kuwait has received a new shipment of coronavirus vaccine.

ALSO READ: NZ locks down Auckland after 3 new local COVID-19 cases

Lebanon

Lebanon recorded on Monday 1,793 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections to 340,861, the Health Ministry reported, adding that the number of deaths went up by 44 to 4,037.

The country continues to vaccinate its medical staff in various hospitals and medical centers after receiving 28,500 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The country is expected to receive the second batch of the Pfizer vaccine by next week to vaccinate the elderly above 75 years old.

This handout photo from Malaysia's Department of Information taken and released on Jan 19, 2021 shows Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin wearing a face mask, face shield and rubber gloves arriving at a quarantine facility for people with the coronavirus at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park (MAEPS) in Serdang, outside Kuala Lumpur. (PHOTO /AFP)

Malaysia 

Malaysia has secured access to enough coronavirus vaccines for its entire population, as the Southeast Asian nation prepares to roll out its inoculation program by the end of this month.

The country is set to receive 66.7 million doses through the Covax Facility and five producers, subject to approval by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, according to the immunization program launched by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Tuesday.

“The government’s strategy is to ensure as many residents in Malaysia as possible receive the vaccine, in order to save lives in the shortest time possible,” he said in a handbook detailing the program. Muhyiddin would be among the first recipient of the shot on Feb. 26, along with the front-liners, he added at the televised launch.

Mongolia 

Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrai Oyun-Erdene said here on Tuesday that he will become the first person in the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Our country will begin to bring vaccines approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use starting today under careful inspections by professional organizations," Oyun-Erdene said at a meeting with relevant officials to check the preparations underway for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Mongolia. "As the country's Prime Minister, I will become the first person vaccinated in the country against the COVID-19 to encourage citizens to accept inoculation."

Mongolia registered 33 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking its national count to 2,416, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, 49 more recoveries from COVID-19 were reported, bringing the nationwide tally to 1,760, Amarjargal Ambaselmaa, head of the surveillance department of the NCCD, told a daily press conference.

The Asian country has recorded four virus-related deaths since its first case were confirmed in March last year.  

New Zealand

New Zealand reported no new community transmission cases of the Covid-19 virus, less than a week after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern placed the country’s largest city Auckland into a three-day lockdown and reimposed social distancing requirements for the rest of the country.

It’s “too soon to speculate” whether Auckland lockdown will end tomorrow night but no new community cases is “encouraging,” Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a news conference.

Oman

The Omani Health Ministry on Monday announced 286 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the sultanate to 137,592.

More than 11,000 people in Oman have received the AstraZeneca vaccine since Feb. 7, the health ministry announced on Monday.

Last week, Oman continued land border closure "until further notice" in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic.  

Palestine

The Palestinian Authority (PA) accused Israel on Monday of holding up the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines into Gaza, where Palestinians have yet to receive any doses.

A Palestinian official told Reuters that the PA tried to send 2,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine from the occupied West Bank to Gaza on Monday, but that Israel stopped the shipment at a West Bank checkpoint “and informed the Palestinians there was no approval to continue to Gaza.”

An Israeli security official said the PA’s request to send the 2,000 doses was “still being examined” and that “an approval hasn’t yet been given”.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye announced on Monday that his government will tighten the precautionary measures for two more weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the West Bank.

"The indicators of the spread of the virus forced us to close many areas that have high rates of infections," Ishtaye said in a statement issued after the weekly cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

He called for abiding by the preventive measures, mainly wearing masks and keeping social distancing, saying that many countries returned to lockdowns "to combat the new, deadliest and fastest-spreading strains."

Participants take part in the COVID-19 vaccination mock drill at a vaccination center in Seoul on Feb 9, 2021. (KIM HONG-JI / POOL / AFP)

South Korea

South Korea has arranged to buy coronavirus vaccines for 23 million more people, its prime minister said on Tuesday, a day after authorities said delays and efficacy concerns meant fewer people would be vaccinated in the first quarter of the year.

The deals include Novavax vaccines for 20 million people and Pfizer products for 3 million, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said in remarks at a meeting that were broadcast.

“The government has been working to bring in sufficient early supplies, but there is growing uncertainty over our vaccination plan for the first half due to production issues with global drugmakers and international competition to adopt more vaccines,” he said.

With a population of 52 million, South Korea had already secured enough doses for 56 million people from COVAX, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, and is due to begin its first stage of vaccinations on Feb. 26.

On Monday authorities said they would not use AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine on people aged 65 and older, reversing an earlier decision, and scaled back initial vaccination targets because of delayed shipments from global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX.

The country slashed its first-quarter target for how many people would be vaccinated from 1.3 million to less than 760,000.

Thailand

Thailand on Tuesday reported 72 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total caseload to 24,786, according to the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Of the new cases, 69 were domestic infections while three others referred to imported cases, CCSA spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin told a news briefing.

No new deaths were reported Tuesday, leaving the total death toll unchanged at 82, according to Taweesin.

The CCSA was considering to increase the mandatory quarantine for returnees from Africa to 21 days from current 14 days after the discovery of a virus variant originated from South Africa in a 41-year-old Thai returnee who flew in from Tanzania, according to local media.

The first batch of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive in Thailand in February, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul announced Monday.

The Sinovac vaccines will be the first COVID-19 vaccines administered in Thailand, Anutin said.

Local media cited Anutin as saying that the Thai Food and Drug Administration is ready to issue the emergency use authorization for the Sinovac vaccine, and the national vaccination campaign will start as soon as these vaccines pass the quality check. .

Turkey

Turkey on Monday reopens schools in rural areas as the country continues to push forward the mass vaccination for the COVID-19. 

"As of this week, we are happy to reunite our students in the villages with their schools. Following this first step, our second move will be to open the doors of our schools for students in eighth and 12th grades on March 1," Turkish Education Minister Ziya Selcuk said on Monday at a ceremony in Godekli village of the eastern Igdir province.

So far, more than 3,953,000 Turks have been vaccinated and more than 634,000 of them received their second doses of the jab.

Schools already have a set of guidelines and measures in place, from enforced social distancing in classrooms, mandatory masks, and delivery of hand sanitizers.

Turkey on Monday reported 7,945 new COVID-19 cases, including 660 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 2,594,128, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 91 to 27,562, while the total recoveries climbed to 2,482,435 after 7,106 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours.

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