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Published: 09:12, November 29, 2022 | Updated: 18:04, November 29, 2022
Australia to withdraw or refund over 30,000 COVID-19 fines
By Agencies
Published:09:12, November 29, 2022 Updated:18:04, November 29, 2022 By Agencies

Staff check a client at a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia on Jan 8, 2022. (MARK BAKER / AP)

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN / SINGAPORE / MANILA / HANOI / SYDNEY / NEW DELHI / SEOUL / KUALA LUMPUR - Australia's largest state will withdraw or refund tens of thousands of fines issued during the COVID-19 pandemic after government lawyers conceded on Tuesday that some fines were invalid in a test case brought by a legal advocacy group.

Australian states and territories instituted strict restrictions during the pandemic, including limits on travel and movement outside the home. Police in New South Wales, the largest state, could issue fines of A$1,000 ($670.60) to individuals who breached public health orders.

Redfern Legal Centre, a free legal service, launched a test case in July on behalf of three plaintiffs arguing their fines of between A$1,000 to A$3,000, were invalid because the penalty notices did not sufficiently describe the offense.

Government lawyers conceded the plaintiff's fines did not meet legal requirements in a hearing at the New South Wales Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Shortly after, the Commissioner of Fines Administration withdrew 33,121 fines, just under half the 62,138 COVID-related fines issued. The remaining fines are unaffected by the decision.

All sanctions, including driver license restrictions will be stopped. Those who have already paid will be refunded.

"Today justice has been granted to three people who took on the NSW government regarding the validity of their COVID fines and won!” said Samantha Lee, acting solicitor for the plaintiffs in a statement.

Revenue NSW said the challenge was on a "technical basis" and the court's decision did not mean the offences had not been committed.

Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at Suri Seri Begawan Raja Pengiran Anak Damit Mosque in an effort to counter the spread of the COVID-19 in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei on March 17, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

Brunei

The COVID-19 Steering Committee of Brunei announced on Monday the latest amendments to COVID-19 control measures, which will commence on Thursday.

According to the committee, citizens and residents of Brunei including foreign nationals who wish to exit and enter the country via land, sea and air will no longer be required to possess travel medical insurance with COVID-19 coverage.

However, travelers who wish to obtain such insurance for their own peace of mind are welcome to do so.

Citizens of Brunei traveling overseas are also encouraged to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of their travel details by submitting them via the ministry's website.

After previous amendments, Brunei requires no COVID-19 tests, quarantine or full vaccination status for visitors to the sultanate. The use of face masks indoors or outdoors in the country has become optional.

The committee said that it will continue to monitor the current situation of COVID-19 in the country while ensuring that any control measures imposed are appropriate in order to maintain the safety, security and well-being of the citizens and residents of Brunei.

Brunei logged a daily average of 643 new COVID-19 cases in the past week compared to 649 cases per day the week before, marking the first decrease in the past nine weeks, official statistics showed on Monday.

India

India's daily COVID-19 caseload decreased to 215 on Tuesday from 291 reported the previous day, officials said.

According to health ministry data released on Tuesday morning, 215 new cases of COVID-19 were reported during the past 24 hours, and the active caseload stands at 4,982 in India.

The country also logged one COVID-19-related death during the past 24 hours, pushing the overall death toll to 530,615 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.

Malaysia

Malaysia reported 2,465 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Monday, bringing the national total to 4,988,759, according to the health ministry.

There is one new imported case, with 2,464 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

Another five new deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 36,657.

Pakistan

Pakistan added 22 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the country's ministry of health said on Tuesday.

The overall tally of infected people climbed to 1,575,147 across the country after adding the fresh cases, according to the data released by the ministry.

A total of 30,631 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with one more death confirmed over the last 24 hours, according to the ministry's statistics.

A man shops for face masks in Divisoria, a local shopping district in Manila on May 17, 2022. (JAM STA ROSA / AFP)

Philippines

The Philippines reported 1,083 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, pushing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 4,034,658.

The Department of Health said the number of active cases rose to 18,507, while 14 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 64,608.

Metro Manila, the capital region with over 13 million people, tallied 452 new cases.

Singapore Airlines stewardesses walk past a giant lollipop candy display at Changi International Airport in Singapore on April 1, 2022, as Singapore reopened its land and air borders to travelers fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. (ROSLOAN RAHMAN / AFP)

Singapore

Singapore reported 817 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total tally to 2,164,689.

A total of 143 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 10 of them held in intensive care units, according to statistics released by the country's Ministry of Health.

Singapore recorded no new deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, leaving the total death toll unchanged at 1,702.

South Korea

South Korea reported 71,476 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Monday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 27,031,319, the health authorities said Tuesday.

The daily caseload was up from 22,327 in the prior day, but it was lower than 72,860 tallied a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Forty-one more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 30,454.

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

Vietnam recorded 333 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, down 25 from Sunday, according to the country's Ministry of Health.

All the new cases were locally transmitted, said the ministry.

The new infections brought the total tally to 11,514,865. The Southeast Asian country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Monday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,170.

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