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Sunday, May 23, 2021, 11:00
Singaporeans told to expect more virus testing, surveillance
By Agencies
Sunday, May 23, 2021, 11:00 By Agencies

An elderly resident arrives to get tested at a temporary swab centre set up at the void deck area on the ground floor of a public housing block, after a few positive COVID-19 cases were detected in the building, in Singapore on May 21, 2021. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)

SUVA / BAGHDAD / ISLAMABAD / DOHA / SINGAPORE / HANOI - Singapore said it will conduct more targeted testing and surveillance operations to curb a coronavirus outbreak.

“Special ops” such as testing all residents in a particular housing apartment block, will help detect and isolate people early, including those who show few or no symptoms and would otherwise be missed, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post Sunday.

In recent weeks, the government has conducted special testing operations for clusters that broke out at airports, shopping malls and schools, extending free checks to tens of thousands of people. Two public housing blocks will have all residents tested after several cases were found in each of them, the government said Sunday.

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 29 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, including 22 locally transmitted and seven imported, bringing the total tally to 61,799.

Among the new community cases, 15 were linked to previous cases and seven were currently unlinked.

ALSO READ: Singapore sees first case of school-based virus transmission


Fiji confirmed on Sunday 18 more positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total tally to 224 in the Pacific island nation.

According to the Fijian Health Ministry, there are 10 cases from two related families in Nausori, a town about 19 km northeast of capital city of Suva, four cases are from a household in Suva and two cases from a household in Nasinu, a town near Suva.


India's new coronavirus cases continued to slow with a daily total of 240,842 on Sunday, the lowest in more than a month. Meanwhile, India's capital extended its lockdown until May 31 as it halted vaccinations of people age 18 to 44 due to a shortage of jabs.

India and scores of other World Trade Organization members made a fresh appeal for a three-year patent waiver on products and technology used in the treatment of COVID-19, the Economic Times reported.


The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Saturday 3,655 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total confirmed number in the country to 1,164,149.

The ministry also reported 21 new deaths, raising the death toll from the virus to 16,158, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 4,778 to 1,076,804, according to a ministry statement.

A man wears a face mask as he cycles past the remains of the 16th century Portuguese A'Famosa fort in Malacca, Malaysia, on May 20, 2021. (MOHD RASFAN / AFP)


Malaysia on Saturday detailed further restrictions on movements to contain a record surge in COVID-19 cases.

Businesses will only be allowed to operate from 8 am until 8 pm daily from May 25, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a briefing. About 80 percent of government officers and 40 percent of private sector employees will work from home, with the move affecting 7 million to 8 million workers.

High-risk places will be shut immediately and usage of public transportation will be limited to 50 percent capacity, Ismail said. The Trade Ministry will announce further guidelines for the economy, he added.

The moves are an attempt to curb the rise in infections without derailing the nation’s nascent economic recovery. Malaysia’s economy lost about 700 million ringgit (US$169 million) a day when only essential sectors were allowed to operate in January.

“I understand many are worried and have proposed a total lockdown due to rising cases,” Ismail said. “However, many are concerned that a total lockdown would affect those who earn daily income as their source of income will be shut off completely.”


Pakistan started the vaccination against COVID-19 on Saturday for the people from 30 to 39 years of age, an official said.

Asad Umar, chief of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), told local media that the vaccination for the 30-39 age group started on Saturday and would continue for an indefinite period, while urging the Pakistani people to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pakistan has already been immunizing the people aged 40 and above across the country. According to the NCOC, the country has administered 4,956,853 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine till Saturday morning, with 1,193,441 people fully vaccinated.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan increased to 900,552 after 3,084 more people tested positive during the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said Sunday morning.


The Qatari health ministry on Saturday announced 330 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 215,160, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

South Korea

South Korea’s Samsung Biologics signed a deal with Moderna on vaccine production, Yonhap News Agency reported. Under the agreement, Samsung Biologics will provide contract-manufacturing organization services to Moderna for its mRNA vaccine and some of the doses will be produced in South Korea.

Samsung and Moderna will together supply “hundreds of millions” of doses intended for markets across the globe, starting in the third quarter of this year, Second Vice Health Minister Kang Dotae said in a briefing Sunday.

READ MORE: WEF proceeding with Singapore meeting even as virus spikes


Thailand discovered its first case of the variant first reported in South Africa, two days after the country detected another variant originally seen in India. The latest variant was detected in three infections from a cluster of 83 cases in southern Thailand, Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said on Sunday, adding that authorities have restricted access to the district.

The country reported 3,382 new cases and 17 fatalities for the day, taking the country’s total case count to 129,5000 with 776 deaths.

A health worker inoculates a resident with a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine inside a Catholic church turned into a vaccination centre in Manila on May 21, 2021. (TED ALJIBE / AFP)

The Philippines

The Philippines is investigating reports that some people have been illegally selling COVID-19 shots or their vaccine slots for financial gain, officials said on Saturday, as they reminded the public the vaccines are free.

Law enforcers learned of the illicit activity through social media posts where sellers offer vaccine slots for as much as 15,000 pesos (US$313), Philippine police chief Guillermo Eleazar said in a statement.

"The sale of COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorisation is illegal," Eleazar said as he ordered the police to identify and arrest those behind the scam.

The Philippines, which has recorded more than 1 million coronavirus infections and nearly 20,000 deaths, has approved for emergency use seven brands of COVID-19 vaccines, including China's Sinovac Biotech and Pfizer/BioNTech.


Vietnam reported 33 new COVID-19 cases from 6 pm local time Saturday to 6 am Sunday, including 31 locally transmitted and two imported, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 5,119, according to its Ministry of Health.

Among the community cases, 29 were detected in the northern Bac Ninh province and two others in the northern Ninh Binh province.

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