A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine on a man at the Clalit Health Services in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Beit Hanina, in the Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on March 2, 2021. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
DHAKA / BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN / TOKYO / KUALA LUMPUR / DUBAI / MANILA / ANKARA / HANOI - The number of coronavirus patients in serious condition in Israel decreased from 717 to 699 since Wednesday evening, out of 1,149 hospitalized patients, the state's health ministry said on Thursday.
This is the lowest number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition in the country since Dec 30, 2020, when the figure stood at 662. About a month later, on Jan 26, the figure reached 1,197, a record high since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in late February 2020.
The tally of COVID-19 cases in Israel reached 791,319, while the number of death cases rose to 5,815.
The number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 in Israel reached 4.86 million, or 52.3 percent of its total population since the vaccination campaign began on Dec 20, 2020.
Bangladesh reported 619 new COVID-19 cases and seven new deaths on Thursday, bringing the tally to 548,549 and death toll to 8,435, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.
The official data showed that 15,985 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.
Brunei reported one new imported case of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the national tally to 188.
According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, Case 188 is a 35-year-old man who arrived in the country from India via Kuala Lumpur on Feb 19.
The contact tracing for this case is still being conducted, and he is being treated at the National Isolation Center, where the other two active cases are being monitored. All three patients are in stable condition.
Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on Thursday received the first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine here at the Calmette Hospital.
Speaking during a press conference after taking the jab, Hun Sen, 68, said the kingdom has so far used two types of COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate citizens, namely the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China and the AstraZeneca vaccine provided by the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility.
Hun Sen thanked China for providing the Sinopharm vaccine and the COVAX Facility for offering the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Cambodia on Thursday confirmed 31 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the kingdom to 909 to date, said a Ministry of Health (MoH) statement.
The new infections included 28 locally transmitted cases in capital Phnom Penh and southwestern Preah Sihanouk province and three imported cases, the statement said.
This Feb 11, 2021, photo shows vials of Bharat Biotech Ltd Covaxin vaccine for coronavirus at Sanjeevan Hospital in Daryaganj, New Delhi, India. (T NARAYAN / BLOOMBERG)
Indian doctors and politicians on Thursday welcomed efficacy data for a state-backed coronavirus vaccine that was given emergency approval in January without the completion of a late-stage trial, making people reluctant to receive the shot.
Government data shows that only 10 percent of about 12.6 million people immunised in India have taken the COVAXIN shot, which was found to be 81 percent effective in an interim analysis of the late-stage trial, its developer Bharat Biotech said on Wednesday.
Any boost to the vaccine’s acceptance in India, which on Thursday reported a new COVID-19 cases at their highest in five weeks, could also brighten its export prospects. Bharat Biotech said 40 countries were interested in COVAXIN.
India's COVID-19 tally rose to 11,156,923 on Thursday as 17,407 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, according to the latest data from the federal health ministry.
According to the official data, the death toll mounted to 157,435 as 89 COVID-19 patients died since Wednesday morning.
There are still 173,413 active cases in the country, while 10,826,075 people have been discharged so far from hospitals after medical treatment. There was an increase of 3,287 active cases during the previous 24 hours.
The number of daily active cases had been on the rise over the past few days.
Indonesia's Health Ministry on Thursday reported 7,264 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's total tally to 1,361,098, with the death toll adding by 176 to 36,897.
Iran's health ministry reported 8,404 daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the total nationwide infections to 1,665,103.
The pandemic has so far claimed 60,431 lives in Iran, up by 78 in the past 24 hours, said Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education, during her daily briefing.
Of the newly infected, 709 were hospitalized, said Lari.
The Iraqi health ministry reported on Wednesday 5,173 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily increase since the outbreak of the disease in February 2020.
Iraq has so far confirmed a total of 708,951 coronavirus cases in the country.
It also reported 25 new fatalities on Wednesday, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,483, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 3,463 to 646,619.
A statement by the media office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety decided to task the health ministry with evaluating the epidemiological situation and presenting a report on whether to continue the ongoing curfew.
Tokyo on Thursday reported 279 new daily COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total of infections in the capital since the start of the pandemic in Japan to 112,624.
The latest figure compares to 316 new cases reported the previous day and 232 new infections confirmed on Tuesday, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan government's figures.
JCR Pharmaceuticals Co said on Thursday it would build a new plant in Japan to expand production of ingredients for COVID-19 vaccines over the longer term.
JCR Pharma along with Daiichi Sankyo Co and other Japanese partners are cooperating to produce and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University. The Japanese government has arranged to buy 120 million doses of the vaccine, which was submitted to domestic regulators for approval on Feb 5.
JCR Pharma said in a statement that it has been making bulk substances for the vaccine at an existing plant but will build another one to comply with government requirements.
The Japanese drugmaker signed a contract in December to make substances for the AstraZeneca vaccine. But as a condition for a government grant to reinforce the country’s vaccine production capability through 2030, it needed to build another facility.
JCR said it will spend about 11.6 billion yen (US$108.28 million) to build the facility in Kobe City, western Japan, with construction due to start in July and finish by October 2022.
Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that extending the COVID-19 state of emergency for the greater Tokyo area by about two weeks would be necessary as infection numbers have not fallen enough for the emergency period to be lifted as scheduled on Sunday.
Following a meeting with health minister Norihisa Tamura, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan's coronavirus response and other Cabinet members, Suga said the COVID-19 situation in the metropolitan region is at a "crucial turning point."
He went on to say that the decision to extend the state of emergency for Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama will be formalized after holding talks with health experts as well as the governors of the respective prefectures.
The Lao government continues to closely monitor people entering the country in efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Some 3,242 people entered Laos through international border checkpoints on Wednesday with their body temperatures checked, Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control under Lao Ministry of Health Phonepaserd Sayamoungkhoun told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Thursday.
People wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk near a banner of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, March 3, 2021, in Tokyo. (PHOTO / AP)
Kuwait reported on Thursday 1,716 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 196,497.
The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced eight more deaths, taking the death toll to 1,105. The tally of recoveries nationwide rose by 1,125 to 183,321, while 12,071 coronavirus-related patients were receiving treatment.
Lebanon registered on Wednesday 3,463 new COVID-19 cases, raising the number of infections to 383,482, the Health Ministry said.
Hoda Samra, a spokeswoman of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East told Xinhua on Wednesday that a total of 7,288 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon were infected with COVID-19 between Feb. 20, 2020 and March 2, 2021.
There currently exists 1,303 COVID-19 cases among Palestinian refugees and 231 have died from the virus, Samra said.
Malaysia reported 2,063 new COVID-19 infections, the health ministry said on Thursday, bringing the national total to 307,943.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that nine of the new cases are imported and 2,054 are local transmissions.
Another five deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 1,153.
In this June 5, 2020 photo, a medical worker (center) wearing full protective gear takes a swab sample from a man to be tested for the coronavirus on a street in Male, Maldives. (AHMED SHURAU / AFP)
Maldives is facing capacity constraints as the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized for treatment is reaching critical levels, local media reported here Thursday.
Health Emergency Operation Center (HEOC) Spokesperson Dr. Fathimath Nazla Rafeeq was quoted in state media saying that if the current trend of daily cases continues, hospitals may be forced to reject patients due to lack of beds and other resources.
Maldives currently has 2,615 active cases of COVID-19, out of which 187 have been hospitalized for treatment according to data from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) updated on Wednesday afternoon.
Maldives has experienced a surge of COVID-19 cases since January leading to the reintroduction of control measures such as a curfew and vehicle restrictions in the Greater Male region.
The country recorded its 63rd death due to the pandemic on Wednesday, alongside 136 confirmed cases, raising the total to 20,280.
Mongolia is planning to reopen its air border from May 1 to resume international passenger flights, according to the country's government press office.
"At the direction given by Prime Minister Luvsannamsrai Oyun-Erdene, it is planned to reopen Buyant-Ukhaa international airport from May 1 to resume international passenger air traffic," the press office said in a statement Thursday.
All preparations for the prevention of COVID-19 infection, including immunizing border control staff and setting up glass barriers separating passengers and temporary isolation rooms at the port for suspected cases, are now underway, the statement said.
Mongolia suspended international passenger flights in mid-February 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mongolia reported 44 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking its nationwide tally to 3,076, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Thursday.
Forty-two of the latest confirmed cases were detected in the country's capital city Ulan Bator, and the remaining two were reported in the western province of Zavkhan, the NCCD said in a statement.
Myanmar reported 19 more COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the tally in the country to 141,984, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.
No new death was reported on Wednesday and the death toll stood at 3,199 in the country, the release said.
According to the ministry's figures, a total of 131,539 patients have been discharged from the hospitals and over 2.49 million samples have been tested for COVID-19.
New Zealand reported six COVID-19 cases in managed isolation on Thursday, with no new cases in the community.
All the six cases have remained in managed isolation facilities in Auckland, according to the Ministry of Health.
No previously reported cases have recovered. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 68, and the total number of confirmed cases is 2,033, said a ministry statement.
Oman reported 358 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the total number in the sultanate to 142,527, according to a statement by the Omani health ministry.
Palestine reported on Wednesday 2017 new COVID-19 cases and 15 fatalities, raising the total number of infections in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to 214,502 and the death toll to 2,296.
It is the seventh consecutive day that the number of the single-day new cases has exceeded 1,500 in Palestine, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
The Qatari health ministry on Wednesday announced 471 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number in the Gulf state to 165,071, official Qatar News Agency reported.
Nine more US soldiers and four civilians in South Korea tested positive for COVID-19, the US Forces Korea (USFK) said Thursday.
The USFK said in a statement that 13 USFK-affiliated individuals were confirmed with the COVID-19 after they arrived in South Korea between Feb. 12 and March 1.
South Korea reported 424 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Wednesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 91,240.
The daily caseload was down from 444 in the previous day, but it stayed in the 300s and 400s since mid-February.
The daily number of infections hovered above 100 since Nov. 8 last year owing to cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.
Of the new cases, 117 were Seoul residents and 177 were people residing in Gyeonggi province.
Twenty-three cases were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 7,129.
Seven more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 1,619. The total fatality rate stood at 1.77 percent.
A total of 462 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 82,162. The total recovery rate was 90.05 percent.
Thailand on Thursday confirmed 54 new COVID-19 cases, mostly domestic, and one more fatality, according to a report from the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
Of Thursday's new cases, 44 were domestic infections while 10 others referred to imported cases, the CCSA report said.
Those domestic cases included 28 in Samut Sakhon, three in Tak and two in Bangkok, among other provinces, the report said.
The fatality was a 63-year-old Thai man who had resided in Bangkok and had diabetes and high blood pressure.
Thailand is eyeing plans for vaccine passports and quarantine waivers as the global COVID -19 inoculation drive gathers pace.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha this week ordered officials to look into vaccine certificates for international travel after signaling the nation - famed for its palm-fringed beaches, temples and backpacker culture -- is open to scrapping the two-week quarantine for inoculated visitors. The local tourism industry wants mandatory quarantines to be lifted from as early as July 1 so it can open to potentially millions of vaccinated tourists.
A successful reopening by Thailand could spur other tourism-reliant nations to follow suit, as countries like the UK set out ambitious timelines for easing restrictions on their populations and resuming international travel.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is more confident about further reopening the economy which suffered its worst slump last year, a Cabinet official said, as the nation got its first vaccine shipment from the Covax facility.
The nation may shift next quarter to the lowest quarantine level where mass gatherings are allowed, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said at a virtual briefing Thursday. Duterte “really wants to” ease mobility restrictions as he’s “very happy” with the start of vaccine rollout, Nograles said.
The Philippines, which has the region’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak, on Thursday night got more than 487,000 AstraZeneca Plc vaccines from the Covax facility, which supplies shots to poor nations. It started inoculations this week using 600,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech Ltd shots donated by China.
The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Thursday 2,452 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 584,667.
The death toll climbed to 12,404 after 15 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 266 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 535,037.
As the first among the Gulf countries to report COVID-19 cases, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday announced 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 399,463.
The UAE health ministry also reported 1,589 more recoveries from the virus, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 385,587.
As the arguably hardest-hit country by the pandemic in Middle East, Turkey reported 11,520 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, including 689 symptomatic ones, raising the total confirmed number in the country to 2,734,836.
In addition, 65 people died in the past 24 hours from the virus, taking the death toll to 28,771, while the number of the total recoveries has risen to 2,593,264.
According to the Turkish health ministry, more than 9.43 million doses of China's COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Turkey by Wednesday.
Vietnam recorded six new cases of COVID-19 infection on Thursday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 2,488, according to its Ministry of Health.
The new infections, all locally transmitted, were detected in the northern Hai Duong province, the country's largest COVID-19 hotspot at the moment.
HONG KONG NEWS