This handout photo taken and released on July 27, 2020 by the Philippines' Presidential Photo Division (PPD) shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivering his annual State of the Nation Address in congress in Manila. (PHOTO / AFP)
NEW DELHI / JERUSALEM / SYDNEY / PHNOM PENH / GAZA / JAKARTA / TEHRAN / BAGHDAD / JERUSALEM / TOKYO / AMMAN / KUWAIT CITY / ULAN BATOR / BEIRUT / MUSCAT / DOHA / MANILA / ANKARA / SEOUL / HANOI - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte would not place the whole nation under the loosest movement restrictions without the roll out of coronavirus vaccines, his spokesman Harry Roque said.
While reopening the economy is important, Duterte “gives higher premium to public health and safety,” Roque said in a statement Monday. The president wants the vaccination program to start soon to ease current mobility curbs, he said.
Metro Manila, the nation’s capital region that accounts for about a third of the economy, is currently placed under second loosest restrictions. The nation recorded its highest daily infections since November on Monday.
The Philippines' Food and Drug Administration has granted the emergency use authorization (EUA) to China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines, FDA Director General Enrique Domingo said on Monday.
The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Monday 2,288 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 563,456.
The death toll climbed to 12,094 after six more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 33 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 522,874.
Thailand extended a state of emergency until the end of March and ordered easing of some COVID-19 containment measures as authorities prepared to start a vaccination drive as early as next week.
The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, approved a proposal for the 10th extension of the nationwide state of emergency to contain the outbreak, according to Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, a member of the panel. The cabinet is expected to back the extension - in place since March last year - at a meeting on Tuesday.
The committee also agreed to allow sale of alcohol at restaurants in cities including capital Bangkok until 11 pm that was prohibited following a new wave of infections that began mid-December, Piyasakol said.
Thailand on Monday confirmed 89 new COVID-19 cases, mostly domestic, according to the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangsan.
Of Monday's new cases, 73 were domestic infections while 16 others were imported cases, Apisamai said.
Australia on Monday began its mass COVID-19 vaccine programme with frontline healthcare staff and senior citizens getting the first doses as the country looked set to report no local cases for the third straight day.
A group of 20 that included Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday received the first shots of the vaccine while the broader rollout started Monday morning with authorities expected to administer more than 60,000 doses by the end of the week.
The vaccine, jointly developed by Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech, will be rolled out in the initial weeks while AstraZeneca’s first batch is expected to reach the country in the next two weeks.
Cambodia on Monday confirmed 35 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the kingdom to 568, said a Ministry of Health (MoH) statement.
The new infections included 31 locally-transmitted cases in capital Phnom Penh and southern Kandal province and four imported cases, the statement said, adding that the new patients are currently undergoing treatment at various designated COVID-19 hospitals.
A total of 20,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines, funded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), arrived in the Gaza Strip on Sunday through the Rafah border crossing.
"Today, we have received the shipment of COVID-19 vaccines funded by the UAE," Ghazi Hamad, undersecretary of the Hamas-run ministry of social development, told reporters at the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
Hamad added that the UAE will send more doses of coronavirus vaccines to the Gaza Strip in the near future.
A medical worker inoculates a municipal worker with a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in New Delhi on Feb 22, 2021. (SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP)
India's COVID-19 tally crossed the 11-million mark, reaching 11,005,850 on Monday as 14,199 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 156,385 as 83 COVID-19 patients died since Sunday morning.
There are still 150,055 active cases in the country, while 10,699,410 people have been discharged so far from hospitals after medical treatment.
There was an increase of 4,421 active cases during the previous 24 hours. The number of active cases in India have been on the rise for the past five consecutive days.
India's nationwide vaccination drive was kicked off on Jan 16, and over 11 million people, mainly health workers, have been vaccinated across the country.
The number of overseas Indonesians who were confirmed positive for COVID-19 rose to 3,253 as two more new cases were registered in this group, according to the Foreign Ministry of Indonesia on Monday.
The new cases were reported in Kuwait and China's Taiwan.
An Iranian health worker receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as the country launches its inoculation campain, at the Imam Khomeini hospital in the capital Tehran, on Feb 9, 2021. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)
Iranian health authorities warned on Sunday about the worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, as an increasing number of people are infected with the mutated coronavirus variant found in Britain and other countries.
The Shapur University of Medical Sciences in Ahvaz, capital city of Khuzestan, has made a request for a two-week lockdown of the province over the surge, official news agency IRNA reported Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iran's Health and Medical Education Ministry, said 7,931 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, of which 574 required hospitalization, according to the ministry's official website.
The new cases take the overall count of the country to 1,574,012.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Sunday 3,187 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 667,937.
It also reported in a statement 27 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,272, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 2,002 to 618,509.
Israel's Ministry of Health reported 3,452 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, raising the total confirmed tally in the country to 747,965.
The death toll from the COVID-19 in Israel reached 5,563 after 37 new fatalities were added, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 872 to 858, out of 1,394 hospitalized patients.
This Feb 19, 2021, photo shows a medical worker (left) receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a national inoculation campaign against the virus at Chiba East Hospital in Chiba, Japan. (KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP)
Tokyo on Monday reported 178 new daily COVID-19 infections, marking the first time the daily tally has dropped below the 200-mark since Nov 24.
According to the Tokyo metropolitan government's preliminary figures, daily infections have also remained below 500 for 16 straight days.
The cumulative total of positive COVID-19 cases in Japan currently stands at 109,912, with 76 people designated as being in a "serious condition," compared to 82 a day earlier.
Japan will only receive limited doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the first months of the rollout and shots for the elderly will be distributed gradually, the country’s inoculation chief said.
Pfizer Inc, the maker of Japan’s only approved COVID-19 vaccine, is ramping up production in Europe, but those increased supplies are not likely to reach Japan until May, Administrative Reform Minister Taro Kono cautioned on Sunday in an interview with national broadcaster NHK.
Bangladesh's Education Minister Dipu Moni on Monday announced that universities in the Southeast Asian country will reopen on May 24.
The university halls will reopen on May 17, the minister added.
Prior to the reopening, Moni said all the residential students, teachers and employees in universities will be vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of health safety measures.
Some 3 million people in Bangladesh have so far taken the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine paving the way for reopening universities.
The Bangladeshi government is planning to administer COVID-19 vaccines to 16.9 million people from varied high-risk groups including teaching professionals on a priority basis.
Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh warned on Sunday that the country is at a critical stage in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as the situation is worsening.
During his remarks at the Lower House, Khasawneh said the government will continue to pursue balance between public health and the economy, and preserving the health of all is always the priority.
Jordan reported 3,917 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the highest daily record in more than two months, raising the total number in the kingdom to 363,728.
Jordan also reported 11 more deaths from the virus, increasing the death toll from to 4,554.
Kuwait reported on Sunday 768 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 184,090.
The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced five more deaths, taking the death toll to 1,044.
The tally of recoveries in Kuwait rose by 967 to 172,227, while 10,819 coronavirus-related patients were receiving treatment, it said.
On Saturday, Kuwait's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) decided to extend a ban on entry of non-Kuwaiti travelers to the country until further notice.
A medic administers a dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at Lebanon's American University Medical Center in the capital Beirut, on Feb 14, 2021. (ANWAR AMRO / AFP)
Lebanon registered on Sunday 1,685 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number in the country to 355,056, the Health Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the virus went up by 43 to 4,340.
Mongolia will launch a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Tuesday, with frontline workers in health and security sectors receiving the first jabs, said Deputy Prime Minister Sainbuyan Amarsaikhan.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Mongolia has increased to 2,693, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Monday.
A total of 55 new locally transmitted cases were detected in the country's capital Ulan Bator in the last 24 hours, the NCCD said in a statement.
New Zealand on Monday reported six border cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation, and one new community case linked to the Auckland February cases, who is already in quarantine.
The new community case of COVID-19 is linked to the existing Auckland February cases and the individual has been in quarantine since Friday, according to the Ministry of Health.
The six new imported cases all have remained in managed isolation facilities in Auckland and Christchurch, said a ministry statement.
Auckland will step down to Alert Level 1 from midnight Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters. The change from Level 2 means there will be no limit on the size of gatherings at public events or hospitality outlets.
Auckland ended a three-day COVID-19 lockdown last week after authorities expressed confidence that a community outbreak was contained. Ardern said Monday that officials advised there is no evidence of undetected Covid clusters.
The Omani health ministry on Monday announced 330 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 139,692, the official Oman News Agency reported.
Meanwhile, 195 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall recoveries to 130,848, while three deaths were reported, pushing the tally up to 1,555, according to a ministry statement quoted by ONA.
The ministry urged everyone to adhere to social distancing instructions issued by the Supreme Committee entrusted with handling the novel coronavirus.
A Palestinian health worker gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Palestine Red Crescent hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Feb 4, 2021. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)
The Palestinians’ COVID-19 vaccination plan faces a US$30 million funding shortfall, even after factoring in support from a global vaccine scheme for poorer economies, the World Bank said in a report on Monday.
Israel, a world leader in terms of vaccination speed, could perhaps consider donating surplus doses to the Palestinians to help accelerate a vaccine roll-out in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, the bank said.
“In order to ensure there is an effective vaccination campaign, Palestinian and Israeli authorities should coordinate in the financing, purchase and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” it said.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) plans to cover 20 percent of Palestinians through the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme. PA officials hope to procure additional vaccines to achieve 60 percent coverage.
Cost estimates suggest that “a total of about US$55 million would be needed to cover 60 percent of the population, of which there is an existing gap of US$30 million,” the World Bank said, calling for additional donor help.
The Qatari Health Ministry on Sunday announced 459 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 160,426, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
Meanwhile, 480 more recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 150,220, while the fatalities remained 256, according to a ministry statement quoted by QNA.
South Korea reported 332 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 87,324.
The daily caseload was down from 416 in the previous day, falling below 400 in seven days due to fewer virus tests over the weekend.
The daily number of infections hovered above 100 since Nov. 8 owing to small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.
Five more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 1,562. The total fatality rate stood at 1.79 percent.
Turkey on Sunday reported 6,546 new COVID-19 cases, including 601 symptomatic patients, taking the total number of positive cases in the country to 2,638,422.
The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 77 to 28,060, while the total recoveries climbed to 2,523,760 after 5,002 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours, according to Turkish Health Ministry.
The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients in Turkey stands at 3.6 percent and the number of seriously ill patients was 1,185, said the ministry.
Vietnam will begin its COVID-19 vaccination programme next month with frontline healthcare staff and the elderly in line for the first doses as the country tackles a new wave of coronavirus infections, state media reported on Monday.
The Southeast Asian country expects to receive 60 million doses this year, including 30 million under the WHO-led COVAX scheme, with a first batch of 204,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive on Feb. 28.
“The first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations, prioritising frontline medical workers and high-risk groups, will begin in March right after the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrives and passes quality checks,” the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
The Afghan Ministry of Public Health on Monday confirmed 29 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 55,646, including 4,316 active cases.
A total of 1,044 tests were conducted within the past 24 hours, and 29 were positive in 10 provinces out of 34 Afghan provinces, the ministry said in a statement.
Three patients died within the period, taking the death toll to 2,435, the statement added.
Malaysia recorded 2,192 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing its total tally to 285,761, its health ministry said on Monday.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that three of the new cases were imported and the 2,189 others were local transmissions.
An additional six deaths were reported in the Southeast Asian country, bringing its death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic to 1,062.
HONG KONG NEWS