Transportation workers wear face masks and shields to help curb the spread of the coronavirus while waiting for the AstraZeneca vaccine during a mass vaccination campaign for public transport workers at the Kampung Rambutan Bus Terminal in Jakarta, Indonesia on June 10, 2021. (ACHMAD IBRAHIM / AP)
CANBERRA / DHAKA / PHNOM PENH / NEW DELHI / JERUSALEM / AMMAN / KUWAIT CITY / VIENTIANE / ULAN BATOR / WELLINGTON / ISLAMABAD / CAIRO / SEOUL / MANILA / ANKARA - Indonesia will start offering Covid-19 vaccination to those aged 12 to 17 years old, after last week extending the inoculation to all adults in order to curb a worsening virus resurgence.
“The food and drug regulator has issued an emergency use of authorization for Sinovac vaccine to be applied on teens,” President Joko Widodo said in a press briefing on Monday.
Southeast Asia’s coronavirus hot spot is battling a rapid spike in coronavirus cases, with daily infections charting new peaks last week. Jokowi, as the president is known, has set a target of administering 1 million doses a day. On Monday, only about 377,000 shots were given, down from about 700,000 a day last week. The daily target will double to 2 million shots a day starting in August, Jokowi said.
With just 7 percent of the population inoculated, Indonesia continues to see high rates of severe illness and deaths from the disease. Hospitals across the most-populated island of Java are becoming overwhelmed, with the COVID-19 bed occupancy rate in Jakarta exceeding 90 percent, even as the government kept adding new beds and converting hospitals for use. More than 2.1 million Indonesian have been infected by the deadly virus and 57,561 people have died, latest data show.
The government is adding new vaccination posts and scrapping the requirement for people to receive shots only in the city or area in which they reside.
Drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Monday it was on schedule to meet its commitments for supplying coronavirus vaccines in Southeast Asia, after some initial delays in regional production and delivery.
AstraZeneca said Thailand, which is manufacturing its vaccine locally, will have received its agreed quota of 6 million doses within this month, while export to other Southeast Asian countries will start in early July.
In a statement AstraZeneca Thailand said partner Siam Bioscience, owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn, will produce 180 million doses this year, just over a third for Thailand and two thirds for elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
It did not provide details of the status and volume of the orders for other countries. AstraZeneca and Siam Bioscience did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
New Zealand is considering making masks compulsory at high alert levels as well as compulsory scanning of QR codes to boost contact tracing in efforts to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
New Zealand halted quarantine-free travel with neighbouring Australia last week as an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant triggered a lockdown in Sydney and renewed restrictions elsewhere.
It also extended the COVID-19 alert level 2 in the capital Wellington until Tuesday, as authorities said there was still a risk that an Australian tourist who tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting the city last weekend had infected others.
The resurgence of COVID-19 in Australia caused significant disruptions in New Zealand, Ardern said at a news conference.
New Zealand reported 10 cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation and no cases in the community on Monday.
The 10 newly imported cases came from Russia, the Maldives, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Oman, South Africa, India, Malaysia, with one of the cases' full travel history being obtained. They have all remained in managed isolation and quarantine facilities in Auckland, according to the Ministry of Health.
Australian authorities are racing to contain outbreaks of the highly contagious delta strain that have forced Sydney and Darwin into lockdown and put other major cities on high alert.
The outbreak in Sydney now numbers about 130 cases, with 18 more infections announced by New South Wales state on Monday. Contact tracers are battling to keep up with a growing list of exposure sites, including some domestic Virgin Australia flights after a cabin crew member tested positive for the virus.
Residents of Greater Sydney have been ordered to stay home except for exercise, essential shopping and medical treatment until July 9, while Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, on Monday saw its initial 48-hour lockdown extended until Friday. Queensland state on Sunday imposed additional restrictions, while Perth and Canberra have made mask-wearing mandatory in public for the first time since the pandemic began.
The clusters show the limits of Australia’s so-called “Covid-zero” strategy, which has relied on closed international borders and rigorous testing to eliminate community transmission of the virus. While nations such as the UK and US are preparing to open up their economies after widespread vaccinations, a slow rollout in Australia means the economy, and particularly domestic tourism, remains vulnerable.
The new case, a Darwin man in his 50s, is an employee at an outback gold mine where a worker tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Monday the country will only open its international borders if it is safe to do so and based on medical advice.
Australia shut its borders in March 2020 to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic, only allowing citizens to return with a 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.
New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, recorded 18 new local cases as Sydney remains in lockdown.
The government is preparing for cases to rise considerably, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.
Bangladesh Sunday decided to suspend public transport across the country from Monday in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The country's Cabinet Division made the announcement in a gazette notification, saying all kinds of transports, except for rickshaws and vehicles carrying emergency goods, would be suspended from 6:00 am local time Monday to 6:00 am local time Thursday.
Also, the notice said, shops and shopping malls, resorts and community centers will also be closed during this period.
A new batch of COVID-19 vaccine Cambodia purchased from China's pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech arrived in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Monday, the state-run National Television of Cambodia (TVK) reported.
Cambodia's COVID-19 infections continued to rise on Monday as the country confirmed 883 new cases, bringing the national caseload to 48,532, the health ministry said in a statement.
The kingdom also reported 16 new fatalities, taking the overall death toll to 556 so far, the ministry said.
At the Qauia settlement, a community of more than 2,000 near Fiji's capital of Suva, police stand guard to ensure no one other than health workers comes in - or out - of an area that has become a hotspot of COVID-19 infections.
After keeping the coronavirus at bay last year, Fiji, with a population of about 900,000, is now recording as many as 300 new cases a day as part of a wave of infections linked to the highly transmissible Delta strain, a variant first detected in India.
The spread has been rampant in the Pacific island's close-knit settlements, with Qauia representing the fastest-growing cluster, according to health authorities.
"The names of those who are sick are not mentioned. Those within the zone who are sick, their names are not publicised so we do not know who is sick nor do we know if any of our relatives are sick," said Sefaira Vere Waqaituinayau, who has family members in Qauia. "So what we do is we organise food and other items to be taken into the zone, through the police or soldiers, to deliver to our relatives."
Although the total number of infections in Qauia is not public, the settlement recorded 153 cases in a single day last week, according to official data. Fiji has recorded just over 3,500 infections and 13 deaths during the second wave starting in April.
India's COVID-19 tally rose to 30,279,331 on Monday, as 46,148 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.
The death toll mounted to 396,730 as 979 deaths were recorded since Sunday morning.
This is the first time that the number of daily deaths has fallen to below 1,000-mark in nearly two and a half months. The daily death toll crossed 1,000 in India on April 14.
An Israeli woman wears a protective mask against COVID-19 in Jerusalem on June 25, 2021. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)
Israel's Health Ministry on Sunday issued a severe travel warning for Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, citing the increasing COVID-19 morbidity in the two countries.
At the same time, Israel has lifted the travel warning of Israelis to the Maldives and Nepal due to a decrease in morbidity data in the two Asian countries.
Israel has already listed 12 other countries for severe travel warnings, which are Seychelles, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Namibia and Ethiopia.
The ministry warned that if the situation in those countries does not improve, they could be added to the list of the countries to which Israelis are barred from traveling.
Israel has already banned travel to six countries, which are Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa, Mexico and Russia.
Also, all passengers arriving in Israel from these countries must go into quarantine, including those vaccinated and recovered from the virus.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the government must be on high alert as virus cases begin to rise in the capital, about three weeks before Tokyo hosts the Olympics.
“While there is a downward trend across the country as a whole, there is a slight upward trend in the capital region,” Suga told reporters Monday. “We must be on a high state of alert in dealing with the virus.” He added that he would be nimble in adjusting policies to deal with the situation.
Case numbers in Tokyo have been creeping up over the past week, since Suga lifted a state of emergency imposed to rein in infections. Any sharp increase could mean the emergency is reintroduced, further restricting residents’ activities even while the games are taking place.
The seven-day moving average of new virus infections recorded in Tokyo rose to 477 on Sunday, compared with 388 the previous week.
Suga’s comments came as the capital’s government announced Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike would take a few more days away from public duties on the advice of a doctor, extending an already week-long absence.
Koike had been expected to return to work Monday, after taking time off to recuperate from fatigue. She was taken to a hospital last Tuesday, Kyodo News reported, without saying whether she had received a specific diagnosis.
This undated photo shows Japanese Prime Minister Yuriko Koike. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)
Jordan said it started a probe into the death of a citizen minutes after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday, the Jordanian Health Ministry said.
The man, 66, passed out in the resting area 10 minutes after receiving the second jab, the ministry said in a statement, adding that medical staff tried to resuscitate him before he was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead.
Jordanian Health Minister Feras Al Hawari said the cause of the man's death was already under investigation.
The man suffered from chronic diseases and received the first dose on April 4 without recording any significant complications, said the minister.
Hawari said that the potential side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, including blood clots, usually do not appear right after the inoculation, but rather at least five days later.
Kuwait registered on Sunday 1,558 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total infections in the country to 351,481, the Kuwaiti Health Ministry reported.
The ministry also announced 14 more fatalities, taking the coronavirus death toll in Kuwait to 1,933, while the tally of recoveries rose by 1,592 to 331,015.
Lao health officials will roll out the third round of COVID-19 vaccination program when the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines arrive in July.
A shipment of 132,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine is scheduled to arrive in the Lao capital Vientiane in July, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Monday.
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is also set to arrive in the country next month but the quantity to be shipped has not been confirmed.
Mongolia reported 15 more COVID-19 deaths over the past 24 hours, the record daily count since the start of the pandemic, pushing the nationwide death toll to 552, the health ministry said Monday.
The decedents were people aged 38 to 80, the ministry said in a statement.
Since mid-June, more than 10 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported daily in the country with a population of 3.3 million.
COVID-19 cases in Mongolia rose by 1,811 in the past day to 111,505, and 834 more people have recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 70,792, said the ministry.
Pakistan reported less than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said Monday.
The NCOC, the department leading Pakistan's campaign against the pandemic, said 914 new cases were reported and the number of the country's overall cases climbed to 955,657, adding that there have been 901,201 people who recovered from COVID-19 so far.
According to the NCOC, a total of 20 people also lost their lives to the disease over the last 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 22,231.
Saudi Arabia will start inoculating young people aged 12 to 18 against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine after it was approved by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, the health ministry said on a tweet on Sunday.
A family walks past the rain vortex at Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore on June 23, 2021. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)
Singapore Changi General Hospital’s COVID-19 virus cluster has doubled to 10 cases, the Straits Times reported Monday.
While Singapore’s number of new cases has stabilized, emerging clusters risk complicating plans to ease prolonged restrictions, including a limit on the number of people who can dine in at restaurants. Indoor dining restarted last week at a maximum two per table, with further easing possible in the coming weeks if cases remain under control.
South Korea reported 267 more cases of COVID-19 variants for the past week, bringing the total number of such cases to 2,492, the health authorities said Monday.
Among the new cases spotted since June 20, 71 were imported from overseas while the remaining 196 were locally transmitted, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The far higher number of local transmissions caused worry about the variant spread in the local communities.
South Korea reported 501 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 155,572.
The daily caseload was sharply down from 614 in the previous day, falling below 600 in six days due to fewer virus tests over the weekend. The daily average caseload for the past week was 581.
Two more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 2,015. The total fatality rate stood at 1.30 percent.
Huons Global Co Ltd said on Monday its South Korean consortium plans to begin production of a single-dose Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine from as early as September.
The plan followed a request by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the vaccine, and production would take place along with Sputnik V vaccines the consortium also intended to make for the sovereign wealth fund, Huons said.
The company said in April it would produce 100 million doses of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine a month for export, as Moscow sought to increase production globally to meet rising demand.
Huons said its consortium would begin producing sample batches of both Sputnik V and Light vaccines in August and would respond flexibly to meet demand from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 5,604 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total tally to 1,403,588.
The death toll rose to 24,456 after 84 more patients died from the coronavirus epidemic, the DOH said.
Turkey on Sunday confirmed 4,883 new COVID-19 cases, including 390 symptomatic patients, raising the total infections in the country to 5,409,027.
The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 52 to 49,576, while the total recoveries climbed to 5,275,231 after 5,937 more people recovered in the last 24 hours, according to the Turkish Health Ministry.
Abu Dhabi will use facial scanners to detect coronavirus infections at malls and airports starting Monday, after a trial of 20,000 people showed “a high degree of effectiveness.”
The technology can detect infections by measuring electromagnetic waves, which change when the RNA particles of the virus are present in the body, state-run WAM reported. The results showed 93.5 per cent sensitivity, reflecting the accuracy of identifying those infected.
HONG KONG NEWS