In this Feb 21, 2021 photo, a woman receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during the first rollout of vaccinations in Australia at the Castle Hill Medical Centre in Sydney. (STEVEN SAPHORE / AFP)
MANAMA / PHNOM PENH / CANBERRA / NEW DELHI / BAGHDAD / JERUSALEM / KUWAIT CITY / VIENTIANE / ULAN BATOR / WELLINGTON / BEIRUT / SEOUL / MANILA / ANKARA - Australia on Saturday recorded first local COVID-19 case in more than two weeks after a doctor tested positive for the coronavirus, triggering restrictions in area hospitals.
Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the unnamed doctor last week treated two patients who had recently returned to Australia and had tested positive for the UK variant.
The doctor, whose name was not released, treated patients, forcing authorities into urgent contact-tracing, Palaszczuk said. The authorities have yet to determine how many people the doctor treated.
As officials seek to determine the size of the outbreak, Palaszczuk said, all hospitals in the state capital will be closed to visitors.
A shipment of 300,000 doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine purchased by Bahrain arrived on Friday.
Chinese Ambassador to Bahrain An Wa'er and Bahrain's Minister of Health Faeqa bint Saeed Al-Saleh attended the vaccine handover ceremony at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Center.
Cambodia on Saturday reported 39 more local COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infected people linked to the third community transmission to 751, said a Ministry of Health (MoH) statement.
Of those new cases, 20 were found in capital Phnom Penh, 13 in Prey Veng province, five in Kandal province and one in Preah Sihanouk province, MoH's secretary of state and spokeswoman Or Vandine said in the statement.
India's COVID-19 tally rose to 11,333,728 on Saturday as 24,882 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 158,446 with 140 new deaths.
There are still 202,022 active cases in the country, while 10,973,260 people have been discharged from hospitals after medical treatment. There was an increase of 4,785 active cases during the previous 24 hours, as the southwestern state of Maharashtra witnessed an increase of 4,417 cases while the northern state of Punjab saw an increase of 383 cases.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Friday 4,622 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 750,264.
It also reported 25 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,696, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 3,397 to 677,742.
Israel's Ministry of Health reported 2,392 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, raising the total confirmed tally in the country to 816,198.
The death toll from COVID-19 in Israel reached 5,980 after 17 new fatalities were added, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 625 to 621, out of 997 hospitalized patients.
In this Feb 17, 2021 photo, a medical worker (left) receives a dose of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 at the Tokyo National Hospital in Kiyose, Tokyo prefecture. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
Japan’s health ministry said Friday a man who arrived from the Philippines last month was infected with a coronavirus variant that had been reported in the Southeast Asian country.
Japanese broadcaster NHK said it’s the first case of the variant spotted in Japan. There have been 34 cases of this new strain in the Philippines, according to a statement from Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The Japanese government expects to be able to secure about 100 million doses of Pfizer Inc’s two-shot COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, Kyodo reported, citing comments from the minister in charge of the rollout.
Minister Taro Kono said Friday the government expects to receive as many as 10 million doses every week in May and more in June, Kyodo reported. The estimate is predicated on approval by the European Union of the shipments, Kyodo cited Kono as saying.
The Kuwaiti Health Ministry reported on Friday 1,356 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed number in the country to 207,249.
The Ministry also announced eight more deaths, taking the death toll to 1,156, while the tally of recoveries rose by 1,182 to 191,417. A total of 14,676 coronavirus patients are receiving treatment.
A man gets vaccinated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by a staff of Kuwaiti Ministry of Health at al-Naseem vaccination centre, in al-Jahra governorate, 40 km north of Kuwait City, on March 4, 2021. (YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)
Laos recorded one new confirmed case of COVID-19, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 49.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control under the Lao Ministry of Health Sisavath Soutthaniraxay told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Saturday that the new case is a 53-year-old man, entering from a foreign country.
Mongolia registered 169 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest daily increase, raising its national tally to 3,833, the National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Saturday.
The latest cases were detected in the country's capital Ulan Bator, the country's hardest hit region, the NCCD said.
Mongolia on Friday received the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, a global initiative to ensure quick and equal access to vaccines against the virus.
Sergey Diorditsa, representative of the World Health Organization in Mongolia, handed over the initial batch of 14,400 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines from the COVAX, to Mongolian Foreign Minister Batmunkh Battsetseg.
New Zealand reported three new cases of COVID-19, said the Ministry of Health in a statement on Saturday.
The three new cases were all recent returnees tested positive in managed isolation.
The total number of active cases in New Zealand was 88, and the total number of confirmed cases reached 2,066, it is said.
Lebanon registered on Friday 2,930 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections to 411,839, the Health Ministry reported.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths from the virus went up by 48 to 5,278.
South Korea reported 490 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Friday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 95,176.
The daily caseload was up from 488 the previous day, staying above 400 for five straight days.
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.
Of the new cases, 138 were Seoul residents and 160 were people residing in Gyeonggi province.
Sixteen cases were imported, lifting the combined figure to 7,283.
Five more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 1,667. The total fatality rate stood at 1.75 percent.
Thailand’s southern resort island of Koh Samui plans to fully reopen to foreign visitors who are vaccinated, and will allow them to skip quarantine from Oct 1.
“The island’s economy and infrastructure were built around foreign tourism, and businesses here have been struggling without foreign visitors over the past year,” Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said in a phone interview on Saturday. “We need to reopen as soon as possible to be able to compete for visitors with other countries.”
Koh Samui’s quarantine-free reopening plan is similar to the initiative proposed by Phuket, another Thai resort island, which seeks to waive quarantine rules for vaccinated travelers and to inoculate enough residents to create herd immunity. Like Phuket, Koh Samui has its own international airport on the island, which makes it a natural bubble isolated from the rest of the country.
Ratchaporn said vaccinated travelers, arriving on Koh Samui, will also be able to travel quarantine-free to its neighboring islands of Koh Tao, a diving destination, and Koh Phangan, home to the Full Moon Party. These three islands will need about 160,000 doses of vaccines to cover at least 70 percent of its current residents, he said.
Thailand on Saturday confirmed 78 cases of coronavirus infection, mostly domestic, and one fatality, according to a report of the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
Residents wearing face masks stand next to a police line placed at the entrance to their home as the local government prepares to impose a lockdown in the neighbourhood in Manila on March 10, 2021. (TED ALJIBE / AFP)
The Philippines on Saturday reported its first case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil, while confirming nearly 100 infections of a new variant discovered locally.
A Filipino returning from Brazil tested positive for the P.1 Brazil variant after 752 samples were sequenced at the genome centre, the health ministry said in a statement.
The Philippines’ health ministry on Friday reported 4,578 new coronavirus infections, the biggest daily increase in cases in nearly six months.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had risen to 611,618, while deaths had reached 12,694, with 87 fatalities added on Friday.
The renewed surge in COVID-19 cases has prompted mayors in the capital Manila, an urban sprawl of 16 cities, to impose an evening curfew until the end of March and remind the public to practise physical distancing.
Turkey reported on Friday 14,941 new COVID-19 cases, including 834 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 2,850,930, according to its health ministry.
The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 66 to 29,356, while the total recoveries climbed to 2,670,273 after 11,180 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours.
HONG KONG NEWS