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Monday, May 24, 2021, 10:29
Malaysia sees highest daily virus toll, new cases near record-high
By Agencies
Monday, May 24, 2021, 10:29 By Agencies

This photo shows health workers wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) carrying a coffin during a funeral for a COVID-19 victim in Klang, Malaysia, May 23, 2021. (VINCENT THIAN / AP)

PHNOM PENH / TOKYO / BAGHDAD / KUWAIT CITY / ULAN BATOR / WELLINGTON / ISLAMABAD / SINGAPORE / SEOUL / MANILA / ANKARA / HANOI / BANGKOK / KABUL / JAKARTA / KATHMANDU / COLOMBO - Malaysia reported a record high daily toll of 61 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of deaths to 2,309, according to the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, another 6,509 new cases were reported, close to a record-high, bringing the national tally to 518,600. Of the new cases, 20 were imported and 6,489 were local transmissions.

In new rules imposed in Malaysia from May 25, businesses will only be allowed to operate from 8 am until 8 pm daily, while 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. Further guidelines for the economy are expected to be announced. The moves are an attempt by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to tamp down new infections without derailing the nascent economic recovery by imposing a nationwide lockdown.

In another development, Malaysia on Monday said it was investigating allegations that some recipients of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine were not injected with the correct dosage.

At least two recipients have said in recent days that they were given less than the required amount, posting videos on social media of the jab being administered to support their claim.


A total of 628 new COVID-19 cases were registered in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, the highest daily increase this year, bringing the country's tally to 66,903, according to a statement issued by the Public Health Ministry on Monday.

According to the statement, 24 patients died over the period, taking the toll to 2,836.

Another 260 patients recovered over the past 24 hours, taking the total recoveries to 56,295.


Australia's second most populous state of Victoria reported on Monday four new COVID-19 infections, all in the city of Melbourne, the first cases of community transmission in the state in nearly three months.

The new infections have raised alarm amid a slow take-up of vaccinations in Australia and as other countries in the region have seen cases increase into the hundreds or thousands in the past few weeks.

"This is not a time to be complacent," Victoria's health minister, Martin Foley, told reporters.

The four cases, including a pre-school child, came from one extended family in two households in a northern suburb of Melbourne.

The source of their infection is under investigation.

A new online COVID-19 vaccination booking system will be open for appointments in the state of Western Australia (WA) on Tuesday as part of the government's efforts to ramp up the vaccine rollout.

The system would provide online process for booking and confirming vaccination appointments at community and hospital-based vaccination clinics across the state.

When booking online, search results will display relevant clinics and dates based on the information entered by the user, along with the recommended vaccine and timing between doses.


Cambodia on Monday reported a daily record of 556 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the national case tally to 25,761 so far, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said in a statement.

The new infections included 540 local cases linked to the third wave of COVID-19 community transmission on Feb. 20 and 16 imported cases, the MoH said.

ALSO READ: Singaporeans told to expect more virus testing, surveillance

A health worker wearing a protective suit stands on the window of a newly inaugurated 'Oxygen Hub' for COVID-19 patients in Kolkata, India, on May 23, 2021. (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP)


India's overall death toll from COVID-19 crossed 300,000 on Monday, as it reported 4,454 deaths over the last 24 hours.

Its daily coronavirus infections rose by 222,315.

The South Asian country's total coronavirus cases are now at 26.75 million, while total fatalities are at 303,720, according to health ministry data.

Indian biotech firm Panacea Biotec Ltd on Monday began production of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, said the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the shot internationally.

The first batch made by the Indian manufacturer will be shipped to Gamaleya, the Moscow institute which developed the vaccine, for quality controls, RDIF said in a statement.

Full-scale production is expected to begin this summer, RDIF added. Panacea Biotec plans to produce 100 million doses of Sputnik V annually, RDIF said in April.


Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases rose by 5,907 within one day to 1,781,127, while the death toll increased by 127 to 49,455, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

According to the ministry, 5,234 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveriess to 1,638,279.


Iraq's Ministry of Health on Sunday reported 3,791 new COVID-19 cases during the past 24 hours, raising the nationwide caseload to 1,167,940.

The ministry also confirmed 32 new deaths, bringing the death toll from the virus to 16,190, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 5,039 to 1,081,843.


Israel will end local COVID-19 restrictions following a successful vaccine rollout that has nearly stamped out new infections, the country's Health Ministry said on Sunday.

With the majority of the population having received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and about 92 percent of those 50 and older inoculated or recovered, Israel has been gradually reopening its economy after three lockdowns.

The country reported just 12 new virus cases on Saturday, down from a daily peak of more than 10,000 in January.

Curbs on higher-risk activities and limits on how many people can gather in a specific area remain, with a government-issued “Green Pass” that indicates immunity post-vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 allowing greater freedom.

A pensioner receives the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at the newly-opened mass vaccination centre in Tokyo on May 24, 2021. (CARL COURT / POOL / AFP)


Japan's All Nippon Airways Co on Monday began testing a mobile application to be used by passengers to certify their COVID-19 status, in a move towards the country's potential issuance of "vaccine passports" aimed at making international travel smoother and safer.

The trial of the International Air Transport Association Travel Pass (IATA Travel Pass) will be conducted on the carrier's flights connecting Tokyo with Honolulu and New York through June 6, ANA said.

The smartphone app, developed by a global industry body, works by displaying passengers' polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results and vaccination status.

In another development, Johnson & Johnson said it has filed for regulatory approval of its one-shot COVID-19 vaccine in Japan, and that it can begin supplying doses to the country in early 2022 once it wins approval.

Also on Monday, Japan opened two mass inoculation centers as the country races to vaccinate most of its elderly population against COVID-19 before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

The centres in Tokyo and Osaka will vaccinate thousands of people every day, giving a boost to Japan’s sluggish inoculation drive as officials battle a fourth wave of infections.

The venues will use Moderna Inc’s vaccine. A total of 7,500 people are expected to get the shots at the venues on the first day, according to broadcaster NHK. Japan has been slow in its vaccination drive, with local municipalities largely responsible for inoculating its residents with vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE.

Housed in a building normally used for tax administration, the Tokyo facility will operate 12 hours a day to dispense shots to some 10,000 people daily for the next three months. The site in Osaka, Japan’s western metropolis, will build up to about 5,000 shots a day.


The Kuwaiti Health Ministry reported on Sunday 992 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total infections in the country to 299,215.

The ministry also announced 10 more fatalities, taking the death toll in Kuwait to 1,734, while the tally of recoveries rose by 1,166 to 285,118.


Maldives, which has the world’s fastest growing COVID-19 pandemic, plans to extend a 12-hour curfew in its capital in a bid to slow down the outbreak.

“The initial restrictions have had an impact on the curve,” Mohamed Mabrook Azeez, spokesman for the president’s office, said in an interview on Monday. “We feel that more measures are needed to further slow down the number of positive cases.”

The country had already extended the curfew by nine hours as well as imposing other restrictions in the capital of Male and surrounding districts as cases surge even though 42 percent of its population has had two doses of vaccine. 

The new restrictions will be imposed from May 26, Azeez said.

The Maldives confirmed 1,559 new cases on Sunday with 1,135 in the Greater Male area. Total active cases were 23,464 in the country of about 391,000 people. The total number of deaths reached 134 on Monday, according to data from the government’s Health Protection Agency, which notifies the nation on Twitter whenever a Maldivian dies of the disease.


Mongolia registered 630 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 53,100, the country's heath ministry said Monday.

The ministry said that the latest cases were local infections and that 5,849 samples were tested in the past day across the country.


A Nepali government official said on Monday that many foreign climbers were continuing their attempts to summit Mount Qomolangma, known as Mount Everest in the West, despite reports of a COVID-19 outbreak at the base camp of the world's tallest peak.

"So far we have about one hundred confirmed cases in Everest base camp, confirmed by doctors, by hospitals, by insurance companies, by expedition leaders, by helicopter pilots who are flying out the patients and of course by the climbers themselves," Lukas Furtenbach of the Austrian Furtenbach Adventures companym told Reuters TV in Kathmandu on Monday.

But Mira Acharya, a director at the Department of Tourism that oversees climbing activities in Nepal's mountains, said the government had not received any notice of a COVID-19 outbreak at the Everest base camp and that expeditions were continuing through the climbing season that ends next week.

When asked about the one hundred cases mentioned by Furtenbach, she said: "We have not received any report about that."

On Sunday, Nepal reported 513,241 infections and 6,346 deaths since the outbreak began, according to government data.

New Zealand

New Zealand reported four new cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation and no new cases in the community on Monday.

All the four newly imported cases came from India and have remained in managed isolation and quarantine facilities in Auckland, according to the Ministry of Health.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases detected at the border is two, said a ministry statement.


Pakistan confirmed 3,060 new cases of COVID-19 and 57 deaths during the last 24 hours, said the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Monday morning.

The new cases increased the total number of confirmed cases to 903,599, including 820,374 recoveries and 62,917 active cases across the country, the NCOC said in a statement.

The death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 20,308, said the NCOC, adding that 4,763 patients are in critical condition.

Residents are 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)


Singapore authorities have provisionally approved a COVID-19 breathalyser test that aims to show whether someone is infected with the coronavirus in under a minute, according to the local startup that developed the product.

Breathonix, a spin-off company from the National University of Singapore (NUS), said it is now working with the health ministry to run a deployment trial of the technology at one of the city-state's border points with Malaysia.

The tests would be sold for between S$5-S$20 (US$3.76-US$15.03) each, depending on the number purchased, said a company representative.

The breath test achieved more than 90 percent accuracy in a Singapore-based pilot clinical trial, Breathonix said last year

The breath test achieved more than 90 percent accuracy in a Singapore-based pilot clinical trial, the company said last year.

In another development, Singapore's airport said it was stepping up measures to keep out the coronavirus, including further segregating arrivals and about 14,000 workers into different risk zones, after it became the country's largest active COVID-19 cluster.

Singapore currently has 32 active virus clusters with the one at Changi Airport being the country’s largest with 108 linked cases as of Sunday, according to the ministry’s data.

The country preliminarily confirmed 24 new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 infection as of 12 pm on Monday, two of which are untraceable.

South Korea

South Korea reported 538 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 136,467.

The daily caseload was down from 585 in the previous day, staying below 600 for two days due to fewer virus tests over the weekend. The daily average caseload for the past week was 597.

Three more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 1,934. The total fatality rate stood at 1.42 percent.

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

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan authorities on Monday said the islandwide travel restrictions imposed on Friday night will be extended till June 7 in order to prevent a further spread of the coronavirus.

The restrictions had been scheduled to be lifted on May 28.

Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said the curbs would be relaxed on May 25, May 31, and June 4 to allow one person from each household to visit their nearest grocery stores and stock up on essential items.

Sri Lanka has so far registered 164,201 COVID-19 cases and 1,210 deaths.


Thailand on Monday reported 2,713 new COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the tally to 132,213 and the toll to 806.

Of the new cases, 49 were imported and 2,664 were local transmitted, including 206 detected via active testing at prisons, the CCSA said.

The country has detected eight new cases of COVID-19 variant first found in South Africa, Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, said. The number of cases of a variant initially found in India is still on the rise, he said, adding that authorities continue to collect samples from various construction worker camps in Bangkok.

Also on Monday, Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha received his second jab of COVID-19 vaccine.

The health ministry has increased the period between the first and second dose of AstraZeneca Plc shots to 16 weeks from 10 weeks, Permanent Secretary of Public Health Kiattiphum Wongrajit said. The adjustment will allow more shots to be distributed to more people in a country that’s currently battling its worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began.

With a population of around 70 million, the country has administered more than 2.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far, official data showed. 

The Philippines

The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday 4,973 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,184,706.

The death toll climbed to 19,983 after 39 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

Filipinos prefer Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac vaccine over other COVID-19 vaccines, according to an independent poll released Monday.

A nationwide survey, conducted by Social Weather Station (SWS) from April 28 to May 2, found that 39 percent of the 1,200 adult Filipinos said they prefer the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech.


Turkey on Sunday confirmed 7,839 new COVID-19 cases, including 710 symptomatic patients, as the total infections in the country reached 5,186,487.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 197 to 46,268, while the total recoveries climbed to 5,024,313 after 11,202 more recovered in the last 24 hours, according to Turkey's Health Ministry


Vietnam reported 129 new COVID-19 cases from 6 am to 6 pm local time Monday, 128 of which were locally transmitted and one imported, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 5,404, according to the Ministry of Health.

Two more COVID-19 patients have died, lifting the toll to 44.

As many as 2,794 patients have recovered, up 73 from Sunday, and more than 173,400 people are being quarantined and monitored.

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