A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of coronavirus sits inside an empty train at the Jakarta Kota train station in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 28. (TATAN SYUFLANA/AP)
WELLINGTON / NEW DELHI / JAKARTA / JERUSALEM / VIENTIANE / ULAN BATOR / ISLAMABAD / SEOUL / BANGKOK / MANILA / ANKARA / HANOI - Indonesia has registered more than 4 million COVID-19 cases since the first case was confirmed in the country in March last year.
On Tuesday, the country's Health Ministry reported that the coronavirus cases across the archipelago country rose by 19,106 within the past 24 hours to 4,008,166 with the death toll adding by 1,038 to 128,252.
Indonesia has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the Southeast Asia region.
The Indonesian government has decided to extend its four-tiered restrictions on public activities (locally abbreviated as PPKM) on the country's most populated island of Java and the resort spot of Bali as well as a number of provinces outside the two islands for another week.
The decision was announced by President Joko Widodo during a live-streamed briefing on Monday evening.
He said that some regions on Java and Bali, including Greater Jakarta, Bandung (West Java) and Surabaya (East Java), which were previously implementing PPKM Level 4, can now lower their level of the restrictions to Level 3.
"The government has decided that from August 24 to 30, 2021, some regions can lower their level from 4 to 3," Widodo said.
Israeli children undergo COVID-19 antibody testing in the coastal city of Netanya on Aug 22, 2021, before the start of the new school year. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Australia can proceed with its reopening plans when the country reaches 70 percent-80 percent vaccination levels, the government’s pandemic modelling adviser said, even as some states hinted they may not ease border curbs if Sydney fails to control its Delta outbreak.
The Melbourne-based Doherty Institute said the country’s focus must shift to limiting the number of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalisations, from its current zero-cases strategy, when at least 70 percent of the country’s population above age 16 is fully vaccinated.
“This level of vaccination will make it easier to live with the virus, as we do with other viruses such as the flu,” it said in a statement late on Monday. “Once we reach 70 percent vaccine coverage, opening up at tens or hundreds of cases nationally per day is possible.”
Currently, 30 percent of Australia’s adult population has been fully vaccinated while 53 percent have had at least one dose.
Australia has suffered less from the coronavirus pandemic than many other developed countries with about 44,600 cases and 984 deaths. But a third wave of infections from the Delta variant has plunged Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, and capital Canberra in a weeks-long lockdown.
Victoria state reported 50 new locally acquired cases on Tuesday, down from 71 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 39 have been infectious in the community, a number officials have said must return to near zero to ease curbs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) only has enough supplies in Afghanistan to last for one week, a senior regional official said on Tuesday.
The UN agency was also concerned that the current upheaval could lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections, Ahmed Al-Mandhari told a press briefing.
The Indian drug regulator has granted approval for phase II and III clinical trials of the country's first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate - HGCO19, officials said.
The vaccine is being developed by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals in partnership with the department of biotechnology and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) under the mission COVID-19 suraksha (protection).
The government said the shot was found to be safe and effective in an early-stage study.
India will likely restart exporting COVID-19 vaccines next year once it has immunized its own adult population, the head of an influential government expert panel said.
“Almost 60 countries are hardly having any access to vaccine and India should be able to provide a substantial portion in 2022,” N.K. Arora, chairman of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization in India, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. “As soon as we are through with our adult population we should have sufficient vaccine to share with the rest of the world.”
India's COVID-19 tally rose to 32,474,773 on Tuesday, as 25,467 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, showed the federal health ministry's latest data.
Besides, 354 deaths due to the pandemic since Monday morning took the total death toll to 435,110.
Fear of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic looms large in India even as an expert panel set up by an institute under the federal government suggested three likely scenarios for the third wave based on the level of unlocking process, reported the Press Trust of India (PTI) on Monday.
The report has been submitted with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for further action.
Quoting prediction an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the panel of said that in scenario one the third wave could peak in October with 320,000 positive cases per day.
And in scenario two, the third wave could peak in September with likely half a million positive cases per day, while in scenario three the third wave could peak in late October with 200,000 positive cases per day.
The experts panel constituted by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), cited different reasons for all the three scenarios such as the emergence of new and more virulent variants.
It also said that children will have a similar risk like adults since paediatric facilities, doctors and equipment like ventilators, ambulances, etc are "nowhere close to what may be required in case a large number of children become infected".
The report observed that only around 7.6 percent (104 million) people are fully vaccinated in India, and if the current vaccination rate is not increased, the country could witness 600,000 cases per day in the next wave.
This photo taken on Aug 23, 2021 shows traditional fishing boats to be refurbished and restored at a boatyard in Lhokseumawe, Indonesia's Aceh province. (AZWAR IPANK / AFP)
Iran’s death toll rose by 709 over the last 24 hours, the highest on record and up from the previous peak of 684 fatalities reported on Sunday. The number of new infections rose by 40,623 overnight, up from 38,657 yesterday. The country has suffered 103,357 deaths from COVID-19 and registered a total of 4.76 million cases.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Israel has reached 1,005,511, almost a year and a half since the first case was detected in the country, the Israeli Ministry of Health said on Tuesday morning.
Israel thus became the 35th country with more than 1 million infections, according to the World Health Organization.
The country reported its first COVID-19 case on Feb 27, 2020, as an Israeli who had returned from Italy tested positive.
The number of deaths caused by the virus in Israel rose to 6,864, while the number of patients in a serious condition increased to 678.
Israel expanded its coronavirus booster drive, lowering the minimum age for the jab to 30 from 40 previously, the health ministry said.
Japan will expand its coronavirus state of emergency to the northern island of Hokkaido and seven other prefectures, public broadcaster NHK reported on Tuesday.
They will join 13 other prefectures, including Tokyo, currently which are under the measures until Sept 12, NHK said.
Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA) has authorized emergency use of the Chinese Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, the Director General of the JFDA Nizar Muhaidat announced on Monday.
Jordan commenced a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Jan 13 with the priority for the vulnerable groups and frontline health workers.
Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine is the ninth approved COVID-19 vaccine in the kingdom.
With COVID-19 infection rates rising in the northern and southern provinces, Lao health authorities are speeding up the vaccination program with a focus on Bokeo, Savannakhet and Champasak provinces.
According to local daily Vientiane Times report on Tuesday, infections rates have been highest in these areas because of their shared borders with neighboring countries and the influx of returning migrant workers, many of whom have brought the virus with them.
The Center of Information and Education for Health under the Lao Ministry of Health reported that, as of Sunday, 2,131,014 people across the country had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 1,668,064 people have had two doses.
Head of the Savannakhet provincial Department of Health, Sengdao Sydalay, told the daily that the department is working to vaccinate people across the province.
Mongolia registered 1,596 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 196,841, the country's health ministry said Monday.
The viral disease has claimed 907 lives after five people died in the past day, the ministry said.
People, some wearing masks, walk along a path in Wellington, New Zealand, Aug 19, 2021. (MARK MITCHELL / NEW ZEALAND HERALD VIA AP)
New Zealand on Tuesday recorded its highest increase in COVID-19 cases since April 2020, but authorities said the numbers were not rising exponentially and the majority of the cases were still in centred in Auckland where the recent outbreak started.
The South Pacific nation's virus-free run since February ended last week after an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus erupted in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, and quickly spread to the capital Wellington.
Authorities reported 41 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the total number of infections in the country to 148, the Director General of Health Chief Ashley Bloomfield said at a news conference. That is the most new cases since April 2020, according to a graphic on the Ministry of Health website.
Of the new cases, 38 are in Auckland and three are in Wellington.
"It is reassuring that we are not seeing an exponential increase," Bloomfield said, adding that with most cases being reported in Auckland, it indicated infections were not widespread.
However, the health ministry said in a statement later on Tuesday that it would not be unexpected to see a rise in daily case numbers at this stage of the outbreak and at its peak last year New Zealand had a daily total of 89 new cases.
Pakistan has reported 4,075 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said on Tuesday.
Amid the serious fourth wave of the disease, the overall tally of the infected people climbed to 1,131,659 across the country, the NCOC, the department leading the country's campaign against the pandemic, said in updated figures on its dashboard.
Pakistan's southern Sindh province has been the worst hit, with a total of 422,418 cases, followed by east Punjab province where the disease was detected in 382,332 people.
A total of 25,094 people died of the COVID-19 in Pakistan including 91 patients who lost their lives to the pandemic over the last 24 hours, the NCOC said.
In this May 19, 2021 photo, commuters wear face masks and practice social distancing to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus while onboard a subway in Singapore. (ZEN SOO / AP)
Singapore’s daily tally of locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases rose to the highest since Aug 5, after 59 infections were discovered linked to a dormitory for foreign workers in the north of the island.
The spike in cases comes as Singapore is seeking to add more countries to its vaccinated travel lane program. The nation has signaled that it is increasingly shifting away from a so-called COVID Zero strategy aimed at stamping out the virus. Singapore had fully vaccinated about 78 percent of its population by Saturday.
The country has urged all employers to consider implementing a differentiated policy for existing and new employees to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing, following the example set by the government. Employers can ask staff who choose not to be vaccinated to foot the bill for regular testing as well as exclude them from COVID-19 related medical benefits.
People infected with the more transmissible Delta variant have a viral load 300 times higher than those with the original version of the COVID-19 virus, when symptoms are first observed, a South Korea study found.
But the amount gradually decreased over time - to 30 times in four days and over 10 times in nine days - and it matched levels seen in other variants after 10 days, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Tuesday.
The higher load means the virus spreads far more easily from person to person, increasing infections and hospitalisations, a health ministry official Lee Sang-won told a news conference.
"But it doesn't mean Delta is 300 times more infectious...we think its transmission rate is 1.6 times the Alpha variant, and about two times the original version of the virus," Lee said.
To avoid the spread of the Delta variant, now the dominant strainworldwide, the KDCA urged people to immediately get tested when developing COVID-19 symptoms and avoid in-person meetings.
South Korea reported 1,509 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Monday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 239,287.
The daily caseload was up from 1,418 in the prior day, hovering above 1,000 for 49 straight days. The daily average tally for the past week was 1,777.
The recent resurgence was attributable to cluster infections in the Seoul metropolitan area.
Of the new cases, 429 were Seoul residents. The number of newly infected people residing in Gyeonggi province and the western port city of Incheon was 469 and 62.
The virus spread also raged in the non-metropolitan region. The number of new infections in the non-capital areas was 510, or 34.7 percent of the total local transmission.
Thirty-nine cases were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 13,232.
Six deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 2,228. The total fatality rate stood at 0.93 percent.
Thailand will receive 61 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine this year, a government spokesperson said on Monday, as the Southeast Asian country rushes to vaccinate its population amid a surge in coronavirus infections.
Thailand is AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing hub for the region, but has been slow to obtain enough shots to inoculate its population. About 9 percent of Thailand's 66 million people have been fully vaccinated.
"This is good news, it will help create herd immunity faster. This will take pressure off the health care system, help people return to their normal lives and speed up economic recovery," government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said in a statement.
Last month, health officials said that AstraZeneca had asked to delay deliveries of its order of 61 million doses to May 2022.
Thailand is preparing for life with COVID-19, with preliminary plans being drawn up to relax some restrictions and reopen its borders to vaccinated visitors even as new cases hover around 20,000 a day.
The National Communicable Disease Committee on Monday approved a shift in the country’s strategy to “learning to live with COVID-19,” recognizing the endemic nature of the virus, according to Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control.
The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 12,067 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,869,691.
The DOH added that the death toll climbed to 32,264 after 303 more patients died from the viral disease.
"The relatively low number of cases today is due to lower laboratory output last Sunday," the DOH said in a statement, adding that 10 laboratories failed to submit reports over the weekend.
The Philippines has reported an average of over 15,000 new daily cases and more than 250 deaths in the past seven days.
Turkey on Monday reported 18,857 new COVID-19 cases, raising its tally of infections to 6,234,520, according to its health ministry.
The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 232 to 54,765, while 15,833 more people recovered in the last 24 hours.
Cuba will supply large quantities of its home-grown COVID-19 vaccine, Abdala, to Vietnam and also transfer the production technology to the Southeast Asian country by the end of the year, the Vietnamese health ministry said on Tuesday.
Cuba has said its three-shot Abdala vaccine was 92.28 percent effective against the coronavirus in last-stage clinical trials in June.
A transport aircraft of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China carrying a batch of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine landed Monday at Noi Bai International Airport in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.
At the handover event, the Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Xiong Bo said China had been paying close attention to the epidemic situation in Vietnam, and that the cooperation in the fight against the pandemic is a significant part of the cooperation between the militaries.
According to Vietnam's Ministry of Health, as of 6:30 pm local time Monday, Vietnam had registered 354,355 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since the start of the current wave in the country in late April.
HONG KONG NEWS