Medical staff transport a patient from the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne on Oct 9, 2021, as Victoria state recorded 1965 new COVID-19 cases, its highest daily infection number since the start of the pandemic, putting more pressure on the state's struggling health system. (WILLIAM WEST / AFP)
ANKARA / MANILA / SINGAPORE / ISLAMABAD / HANOI / TOKYO / KUALA LUMPUR / SEOUL / JAKARTA / SUVA / CANBERRA / WELLINGTON - Australia has reported its highest COVID-19 daily death toll in recent months as the country continues to battle against the wave of Omicron sub-variant infections in winter.
There were 157 new COVID-19 deaths reported across Australia on Friday, including 107 in Victoria and 22 in New South Wales.
The spike takes Australia's total COVID-19 death toll to over 11,600, of which almost 10,000 have occurred in 2022.
Figures published by the Guardian Australia on Friday revealed Australia has one of the highest coronavirus death rates among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations.
The seven-day average of deaths per million residents was 2.77 in the week to Wednesday, trailing only New Zealand and Norway.
Australia on Friday reported more than 40,000 new COVID-19 cases.
According to Department of Health data, there were 5,245 cases being treated in hospitals on Thursday.
A health worker administers Covishield vaccine for COVID-19 at a vaccination center in Hyderabad, India on July 15, 2022. (MAHESH KUMAR A. / AP)
India's daily COVID-19 caseload Friday remained above the 20,000-mark for the second straight day, officials said.
According to federal health ministry data released on Friday morning, 20,409 new cases of COVID-19 were reported during the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 43,979,730 in the country.
The cases reported on Friday, however, mark a slight decrease in comparison to the daily caseload of Thursday (20,557).
With the reporting of fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 143,988.
The country also logged 47 related deaths during the past 24 hours, pushing the overall death toll to 526,258 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.
With the increase in cases, the daily positivity rate stands at 5.12 percent and the weekly positivity rate was recorded 4.82 percent, the ministry data showed.
At present Indian government is focussing on promoting booster doses as the uptake for the third dose has been low. According to officials, the exercise is aimed at improving the booster dose coverage among the people after new variants were detected.
A woman wearing a mask to curb the spread of coronavirus sits inside a bus in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 17, 2022. (DITA ALANGKARA / AP)
Indonesia on Friday commenced the fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose program particularly for healthcare workers amid concerns over new Omicron sub-variants.
In a statement published on the country's Health Ministry website on Thursday, the ministry's spokesperson Widyawati said that the program targeted 1.9 million healthcare workers.
"There has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in Indonesia recently and healthcare workers are a group which has a high risk of being exposed to COVID-19," she said.
Widyawati added that the ministry has instructed all heads of health agencies across the country to carry out the program starting on Friday following recommendations from the country's Technical Advisory Group on Immunization.
On Thursday, the ministry reported 6,353 new infections and 17 more deaths.
A woman wearing a face mask checks out her mobile phone as she walks across an intersection of the famed Ginza shopping district in Tokyo on June 3, 2022. (HIRO KOMAE / AP)
Japan is encouraging regional authorities to take their own counter-measures against the spread of a new coronavirus variant that has sent cases surging to record levels, but there is no plan for any sweeping national measures.
A seventh wave of COVID-19 pushed the daily tally of new cases in Japan to a record 233,094 on Thursday as the BA.5 variant of virus spreads, putting pressure on medical services and disrupting company operations in some places.
Japan has never imposed national lockdowns on the scale of some other countries, instead periodically calling on people to stay at home as much as possible and limiting the opening hours of restaurants and bars.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara reiterated that on Friday saying regional authorities should tailor their response to their specific situations.
"Rather than a national response, we want to support regional authorities in their efforts that are based on their local situations," Kihara told a regular news conference.
"What's important is to help each prefecture's social and economic activities."
The western city of Osaka recently urged elderly people to avoid non-essential outings.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike called on residents to test frequently, including at free centres set up at city train stations, and to maintain precautions such as masks but the capital was not imposing any restrictions at this point.
The country of 125.8 million people has done better than some in handling the pandemic, with 32,308 deaths since it began in early 2020.
But Japan had the world's highest number of new coronavirus cases in the week to July 24, the World Health Organization said this week.
Though the number of deaths in the new wave has been low compared with previous ones, new infections are beginning to take a toll on some sectors.
Malaysia reported 3,926 new COVID-19 infections, as of midnight Thursday, bringing the national total to 4,668,139, according to the health ministry.
There are 23 new imported cases, with 3,903 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.
Four deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 35,946.
New Zealand recorded 7,605 new community cases of COVID-19 and 41 more deaths, the Ministry of Health said on Friday.
There are now a total of 1,479 deaths confirmed as attributable to COVID-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor since the pandemic began in New Zealand, it said.
A total of 313 COVID-19 cases have recently traveled overseas, it added.
Currently, 799 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, including 25 in intensive care units or high dependency units.
New Zealand has reported 1,592,893 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020.
Pakistan's former president Asif Ali Zardari, center, arrives at a court in Karachi, Pakistan, Dec 21, 2018. (FAREED KHAN / AP)
Pakistan reported 693 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the country's ministry of health said on Friday.
The overall tally of the infected people climbed to 1,553,325 across the country after adding the fresh cases, according to the data released by the ministry.
A total of 30,483 people have died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with one death over the last 24 hours, according to the ministry's statistics.
Meanwhile, former Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has tested positive for COVID-19, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on social media Thursday.
The former president, who is a member of the country's national assembly and the father of Foreign Minister Zardari, was fully vaccinated and had taken a booster dose, said Zardari the junior.
The former president is having mild symptoms and has isolated himself, the foreign minister said, adding that his father is undergoing treatment.
The Philippines reported 3,858 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the highest daily tally since Feb. 10 this year, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,764,346.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases rose to 29,897, and 10 more people died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 60,704.
The DOH's officer-in-charge Undersecretary Beverly Lorraine Ho said the country tallies an average of over 3,000 new cases daily.
"All areas show an increase in cases, with Metro Manila, almost 1,110 cases per day," the alternate spokesperson told an online briefing.
Ho said the Philippines remains at low risk, while Metro Manila, home to over 13 million people, is "currently at moderate risk".
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 8,565 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total tally to 1,694,454.
Of the new cases, 841 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 7,724 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.
Among the PCR cases, 795 were local transmissions and 46 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 7,411 local transmissions and 313 imported cases, respectively.
Two deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Thursday, lifting the total death toll to 1,492, the ministry said.
South Korea reported 85,320 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Thursday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 19,620,517, the health authorities said Friday.
The daily caseload was down from 88,384 in the previous day, but it was higher than 68,597 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 77,577.
A man wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 walks along an alley in a commercial area in Istanbul, Turkey on Jan 18, 2022. (FRANCISCO SECO / AP)
Türkiye has witnessed a new surge in daily COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, but the government has so far ruled out reimposing lockdowns or new restrictions.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced last week that the weekly reported cases in the country increased by 40 times and the weekly hospitalized cases increased three folds compared to those at the end of April, which was the lowest point for the country's COVID-19 infections.
However, he ruled out new lockdowns or similar restrictions, though calling on the residents to get vaccinated.
The latest statistics from the Turkish Health Ministry showed 226,532 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the week between July 11 and July 17, and 96 COVID-related deaths.
At the beginning of summer when daily infections dropped under 1,000, the Turkish government lifted all the restrictions previously put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Currently, mask-wearing is mandatory only at hospitals.
But there are more and more people seen wearing masks in the streets of the capital of Ankara, and the local press is also reporting a considerable increase of cases in big cities such as Istanbul.
"There is a rise in cases and in people coming to hospitals for various syndromes linked to new variants of the virus. Everyone should take precautions," Can Barbaros, a family doctor from Ankara, told Xinhua.
He stressed that elderly people and those with chronic diseases should, in any case, respect social distancing and wear face masks.
Türkiye has administered more than 150 million doses of vaccines against the COVID-19. Over 53 million people, or about 63 percent of the population, have received two doses.
Since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Türkiye on March 11, 2020, more than 15.5 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Nearly 100,000 people have died from the virus infection.
Passengers wait for transportation outside the arrival hall of Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on March 15, 2022, as Vietnam announced the return of a visa exemption policy for 13 countries in an effort to kickstart its tourism sector. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)
Vietnam recorded 1,697 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, down by 64 from Wednesday, according to its Ministry of Health.
The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 10,774,679. The country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Thursday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,092.
As of Thursday, there were 31 severe cases in need of assisted breathing in the Southeast Asian country, according to the ministry.
HONG KONG NEWS