In this photo provided by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea government, a worker in protective gear stands on an empty sidewalk in Pyongyang, the DPRK, on May 17, 2022. (KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY / KOREA NEWS SERVICE VIA AP)
TOKYO / YANGON / HANOI / SINGAPORE / SEOUL / WELLINGTON / KUALA LUMPUR / NEW DELHI / SYDNEY - The Republic of Korea's unification ministry said on Friday there is "no possibility" of COVID-19 entering the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea via contaminated balloons sent by activists in the ROK.
The DPRK said earlier in the day the country's first outbreak began with patients touching "alien things" near the border with the ROK.
The DPRK's state media did not directly mention the ROK, but the DPRK defectors and activists have for decades flown balloons from the ROK across the heavily fortified border, carrying leaflets and humanitarian aid.
As COVID-19 restrictions gradually ease across Australia, health professionals expressed concerns over a "very big wave" of people with long COVID.
"We can ignore this problem simply, but even if you say that five percent of Australians will have significant symptoms from long COVID. You're talking about nearly half a million people in Australia," said Peter Wark, a respiratory specialist and conjoint professor at University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute.
Wark told Xinhua on Friday that while many issues around long COVID-19 are still unclear, the impact could be significant.
According to a statement from Health Minister Mark Butler in June, Australia may expect a "very big wave" of people with long COVID over the next few years. It's estimated that the number of people living with long COVID could be up to 1.4 million with possible symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, or headaches.
Wark said this multitude of complex symptoms makes long COVID a difficult condition to track down, study and treat, and there is no single test that could diagnose it. But vaccination does reduce the risk of long COVID-19.
He also suggested that health professionals need to be updated and get trained on long COVID-19 management, and a coordinated response is also needed to deal with symptoms of mild to severely debilitating.
Wark's attitude is largely shared by researchers from the University of Sydney, as a research article from the university in this week warned long COVID-19 might become Australia's most significant cause of longer-term disability.
India reported 17,092 new COVID-19 cases during the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 43,486,326, showed the data released by the country's federal health ministry on Saturday.
A total of 4,12,570 tests of COVID-19 were conducted in the last 24 hours.
Besides, 29 deaths from the pandemic since Friday morning took the total death toll to 525,168.
Passengers wait in line before moving onto their temporary housing for quarantine as they come out of an arrival gate for international flights at the Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, on Dec 2, 2021. (HIRO KOMAE / FILE / AP)
The Japanese government said on Friday it had lowered its infectious diseases-related travel advisory from "do not make non-urgent trips" to "travel with caution" for China, India and 32 other countries, as risks posed by COVID-19 infections eased.
Other countries on the list includes South Korea, Italy, Germany and France.
Malaysia reported 2,773 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Friday, bringing the national total to 4,568,828, according to the health ministry.
There are four new imported cases, with 2,769 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.
Six new deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 35,771.
Myanmar confirmed 32 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to 613,628, according to the Ministry of Health on Friday.
The ministry said 4,767 people were tested for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours in the country, and the daily positivity rate was 0.67 percent.
Myanmar has recorded 19,434 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
New Zealand reported 6,460 community cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.
The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers in New Zealand now sits at 6,825. The ministry also reported 423 current hospitalizations, including seven cases in ICU or HDU, and 20 deaths of COVID-19 on Saturday.
In addition, there were 166 new cases that have recently traveled overseas, according to the Ministry.
Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea reported 10,715 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Friday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 18,379,552, the health authorities said Saturday.
The daily caseload was up from 9,528 in the previous day and far higher than 6,786 tallied a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
For the past week, the daily average number of confirmed cases was 8,550.
A notice warning people not to gather in groups larger than five persons as part of restrictions to hald the spread of the coronavirus is displayed at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Jan 4, 2022. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)
Singapore reported 9,087 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total tally to 1,453,155.
Of the new cases, 795 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 8,292 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.
Among the PCR cases, 737 were local transmissions and 58 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 7,855 local transmissions and 437 imported cases.
Two deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the death toll to 1,415, the ministry said.
Vietnam recorded 927 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up by 88 from Thursday, according to its Ministry of Health.
The infections brought the total tally to 10,747,397 with 43,087 deaths. Nearly 232.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country, including roughly 206.1 million shots on people aged 18 and above, said the ministry.
HONG KONG NEWS