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)
SYDNEY / YANGON / SINGAPORE / HANOI / KUALA LUMPUR / NEW DELHI / ISLAMABAD – The number of patients having elective or non-emergency surgeries in fiscal year 2021-22 in Australia's public hospitals fell to the lowest level since fiscal 2010-11, due to disruptions led by the COVID-19 pandemic, a government agency has found.
According to the latest data released on Wednesday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 623,000 patients were admitted for surgery from public hospital elective surgery waiting lists - a 17 percent decrease compared to fiscal 2020-21.
The number of elective surgeries performed in 2021-22 hit the lowest level since 2010-11 when 627,200 admissions occurred.
"The decrease in admissions in 2021-22 was likely due to restrictions implemented as part of the response to COVID-19 outbreaks throughout Australia and disruptions to hospital services as a result of COVID which affected staff and patients," the institute noted in its hospital system updates.
Australian Medical Association President Steve Robson said in a statement that the latest data is just more evidence that the public hospital system "is in crisis, and has been for many years, but is now at the breaking point."
Across Australia, all states and territories, except Tasmania, saw a reduction in elective surgery admissions. The largest decreases in 2021-22 were reported in New South Wales (27 percent) and Western Australia (23 percent).
Meanwhile, Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has deferred a visit to Papua New Guinea until early next year after testing positive for COVID-19.
He had been expected to visit on Monday, PNG Prime Minister James Marape said in a statement on Facebook, adding that new dates for the trip would be confirmed later.
Marape also said that Australia was Papua New Guinea's top bilateral relationship.
"In the last three years, Australia has given more support in terms of grant and concessional loans," he said.
Australia is negotiating a defense pact with PNG, and has increased its diplomacy in the Pacific islands amid competition with China for influence.
A heath worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Ayeyarwaddy COVID treatment center, Jan 27, 2021, in Yangon, Myanmar. (THEIN ZAW / AP)
India reported 241 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with the active caseload standing at 4,244.
The South Asian country also logged nine deaths related to COVID-19 during the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 530,647 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Malaysia recorded 1,682 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Wednesday, bringing the total tally to 5,005,239, according to the health ministry.
There were two new imported cases, with 1,680 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.
Another six deaths have been reported from the pandemic, taking the death toll to 36,738.
The ministry reported 1,428 new recoveries, bringing the total number of COVID-19 patients cured and discharged to 4,946,495.
Currently there are 22,006 active cases, with 91 of them held in intensive care and 58 in need of assisted breathing.
The country reported 2,550 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Wednesday, and that 86.1 percent of the population have received at least one dose, 84.3 percent are fully vaccinated with two doses, 49.8 percent have received the first booster or a thrid dose and 1.8 percent have received the second booster.
Myanmar has vaccinated more than 37.55 million people for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, data from the Ministry of Health showed.
The figures comprised over 30.78 million people aged 18 and above and more than 6.76 million people aged under 18 years old, the ministry said.
The health ministry confirmed 28 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 633,369 on Wednesday.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the country remained unchanged at 19,488 on Wednesday as no new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.
Pakistan has recorded 24 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the country's Ministry of Health said on Thursday.
According to data released by the ministry, the overall tally of infected people increased to 1,575,407 across the South Asian country after adding the new cases.
A total of 30,634 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with no more deaths reported on Wednesday, according to the ministry's statistics.
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 reported 1,349 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total tally to 2,176,338.
A total of 125 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with five of them held in intensive care units, according to statistics released by the country's Ministry of Health.
One new death from COVID-19 was reported on Wednesday, taking the total death toll to 1,707 in Singapore.
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 500 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, up 138 from Tuesday, 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 11,519,011. The Southeast Asian country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Wednesday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,178.
HONG KONG NEWS