Published: 09:27, September 2, 2020 | Updated: 18:31, June 5, 2023
Older S. Koreans drive surge in critical COVID-19 cases
By Agencies

A customer has her temperature checked as a preventative measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus inside a cafe in Seoul on Aug 31, 2020. (ED JONES / AFP)

DUBAI / SEOUL / CAIRO / SYDNEY / TOKYO / BANGKOK - More than 40 percent of South Korea’s new coronavirus victims are older than 60, fuelling a surge in the numbers of those severely or critically ill, health authorities said on Wednesday.

South Korea is battling a second wave of infection, centred on Seoul, the capital, and its surroundings, which are home to 25 million people.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 267 new infections on Tuesday, a slight increase over the previous day. South Korea has a tally of 20,449 infections and 326 deaths.

“The number in critical condition is steadily increasing,” Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing, adding that 124 patients were severely or critically ill by Wednesday, up from just nine on Aug 18.

“We have 40 percent which are above the age of 60,” he said, referring to the new cases, and adding that authorities expected the number of those needing intensive care to rise.

The last three weeks’ surge in infections has depleted medical facilities, leaving fewer than 3 percent of hospital beds, or just nine, available for critical cases in greater Seoul, down from 22 percent about 10 days ago, the health ministry said.

The government is scrambling to add beds, for fear the number of severe cases will rise, Kim said. 

A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks along an underpass Tuesday, Sept 1, 2020, in Tokyo. (PHOTO / AP)


The Japanese government may offer COVID-19 vaccinations for free to all residents so that the number of future fatalities and those developing severe symptoms and needing hospitalization can be mitigated, sources with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday.

According to the sources, owing to the highly contagious nature of the COVID-19 and its potential to render patients with extremely severe symptoms, the government wants the highest number of people as possible to get vaccinated.

At a meeting convened last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the government aims to have secured by the first half of 2021 enough COVID-19 vaccinations for all of the country's citizens, as part of its new measures and protocols to combat COVID-19 here.

The vaccines will be purchased from reserve funds from the budget of the current fiscal year to March 2021, the government said.


New South Wales (NSW) state reported 17 new cases, the biggest one-day jump since Aug 12, while nationally the count rose to 109 cases from 85 a day earlier.

However, the most-populous state in the country said there were no plans to cancel the New Year fireworks show over Sydney Harbour.

A second wave of infections in Australia’s coronavirus hot spot, the state of Victoria, eased further on Wednesday as authorities look to loosen lockdown restrictions that have shut large swathes of the state’s economy.

Australia’s second-most populous state reported 90 new coronavirus cases, its third straight day of double-digit new cases, indicating the strict lockdown measures are reducing the infection rate.

Australia has detected nearly 26,000 infections since the pandemic began, with Victoria accounting for about 75% of those cases. The national death tally rose to 663 after Victoria reported six deaths in the last 24 hours.

Queensland state recorded two new COVID-19 cases, both linked to existing cases.


The Chief Minister of India's western state of Goa Pramod Sawant said he has tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. 

India's COVID-19 tally rose to 3,769,523, as the death toll rose to 66,333 on Wednesday, showed the latest data released by the federal health ministry.

As many as 78,357 new cases and 1,045 deaths were recorded over the past 24 hours across the country.

India entered the Unlock 4 with effect from Tuesday. Fresh guidelines to be followed during Unlock 4 were issued last Saturday.

According to the new guidelines announced, schools will remain shut through September, though students of 9-12 grades have been allowed to go to school.

Metro Rail services would be allowed to start from Sept 7 in a graded manner, and public functions, or other congregations, would be allowed with a ceiling of 100 persons from Sept 21. 


The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 3,075 within one day to 180,646, with the death toll adding by 111 to 7,616, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

According to the ministry, 1,914 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 129,971.


The total number of COVID-19 cases in Iran rose to 378,752 on Wednesday, after an overnight registration of 1,858 cases, the Iranian health ministry announced.

Sima Sadat Lari, the spokeswoman for the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said at her daily briefing that out of the new cases in the past 24 hours, 1,136 patients have been hospitalized.

The pandemic has so far claimed 21,797 lives in Iran, up by 125 in the past 24 hours, according to Sadat Lari.

Besides, 326,801 people have recovered and been discharged from hospitals while 3,693 remain in intensive care units.

She added that 3,2281,961 laboratory tests for the novel coronavirus have so far been carried out in Iran.

The spokeswoman said there is still a high risk of infection in 13 out of 31 Iranian provinces, and 15 provinces remain on alert.


The Iraqi Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 3,946 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 242,284.

The new cases included 1,212 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, 268 in Duhok, 250 in Karbala, 207 in each Najaf and Wasit, 204 in Dhi Qar, and 194 in Qadisiyah, while the other cases were detected in the other provinces, the statement said.

It also reported 78 deaths during the day, raising the death toll to 7,201, while 3,732 more patients recovered in the day, bringing the total number of recoveries to 184,205.

The new cases were recorded after 23,123 testing kits were used across the country during the day, and a total of 1,647,454 tests have been carried out since the outbreak of the disease, according to the statement.


Israel reported 1,942 new coronavirus infections and 18 more deaths on Tuesday, raising the tally of COVID-19 cases to 118,538 and the death toll to 957.

The total number of recoveries in Israel rose to 96,214 after 1,205 new recoveries were confirmed on the day, Israeli Health Ministry said.


Schools resumed in Jordan on Tuesday despite a high number of local COVID-19 cases.

Around 2.145 million students across the country returned to school at the start of the 2020/2021 academic year after six months of remote education amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the state-run Petra news agency reported.

On Tuesday, the country reported 63 new coronavirus cases, increasing the tally of infections to 2,097 with 15 deaths, said in a statement by the Health Ministry.

Saudi Shi'ite Muslim worshippers attend a mourning ritual commemorating the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Muharram in Qatif city in the Eastern province, some 400Km from the capital Riyadh, on Aug 29, 2020. (PHOTO/AFP)


Kuwait reported 702 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, pushing the tally of infections to 85,811 and the death toll to 534, Kuwaiti Health Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 433 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 77,657.

Lebanon's tally of COVID-19 infections increased on Tuesday by 469 cases to 17,777, while death toll went up by 4 to 171.


Malaysia reported six new COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 9,360.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that four of the new cases are imported and two more are local transmissions.


Myanmar’s government added strict measures to protect the capital after a surge in cases elsewhere in the country. Anyone visiting Naypyidaw must bring a recommendation letter by township authorities and an invitation letter by a ministry or state agency and be subject to a one-week quarantine and two tests at their own expense, the government said.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Myanmar has increased to 938 as of Wednesday morning, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

A total of 19 COVID-19 confirmed cases including 12 local transmission cases and seven imported cases were reported on Wednesday Morning.


Mongolia reported two new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its total tally to 306, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Wednesday.

New Zealand

New Zealand confirmed five new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including two in managed isolation facilities and three community cases.

The three community cases are all epidemiologically linked to the Mount Roskill Evangelical Church, which has been genomically linked to the larger Auckland cluster. All were already identified as close contacts and in self-isolation, according to the Ministry of Health.


In Oman, the health ministry reported 206 new COVID-19 infections, raising the tally of confirmed cases to 85,928, including 689 deaths and 81,024 recoveries.


Palestine on Tuesday confirmed 552 new COVID-19 cases, raising the tally of infections in the Palestinian territories to 30,490, including 180 deaths and 20,792 recoveries.


Qatar's Health Ministry on Tuesday announced 216 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 118,994.

The tally of recoveries increased by 228 to 115,895, while only one death was reported, raising the total fatalities to 198, the ministry said.

READ MORE: India is becoming the world's new virus epicenter

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia reported 898 new COVID-19 cases and 32 more deaths on Tuesday, taking the total infections to 316,670 and the death toll to 3,929. This was the lowest daily spike in infections in the kingdom since mid-April, and the third day in a row when the daily infections fall below 1,000.

The total number of recoveries in Saudi Arabia rose to 291,514 after 718 more patients recovered from the disease.


Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong laid out the early missteps his government made in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in a speech Wednesday, warning against the relaxing of containment efforts too early.

“With hindsight, we would certainly have done some things differently,” Lee said in his first major parliamentary address since winning re-election in July. “I wish we had known earlier that people with COVID-19 were infectious even when asymptomatic.”

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 40 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 56,852.

Of the new cases, seven are imported cases, one is a community case and the rest are linked with the dormitories of foreign workers.


Thailand's Ministry of Transport said on Wednesday that there is no necessity in practicing social distancing on all public rail transport systems, as the country had already surpassed three months of zero local COVID-19 transmission.

The Ministry's Department of Rail Transport has decided to ease social distancing measures, when travelling on all public rail transport systems, by allowing the occupancy of all seats, but passengers must wear face masks and refrain from talking to each other during the journey, said an announcement issued by the ministry.

All railway service operators are subject to check the temperatures of all passengers before boarding and ensure carriages are not too packed.

All passengers are advised to rub their hands with sanitizer before boarding and after disembarking and to use the COVID-19 tracking application.

Cumulative infections in Thailand, to date are 3,425, with 3,274 recoveries and 58 deaths, while 93 others are still being treated in hospital.

The Philippines

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 226,440 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,218 new daily cases on Wednesday.

The DOH said that the number of recoveries rose to 158,610 after it reported 609 more patients have survived the disease.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced 574 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 70,805.

At the same time, 560 more patients recovered from the virus, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 61,491, said the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, adding that the death toll remained unchanged at 384.

Schools in the UAE reopened this week, though some will continue with only remote learning after suspected cases among employees, state news agency WAM reported, citing the education ministry. The report did not identify the schools.

ALSO READ: COVID: Malaysia bans citizens of 3 high-risk Asian nations


Turkey confirmed 1,572 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the total number of infections to 271,705. Meanwhile, 47 people died in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 6,417.

The tally of recoveries rose to 245,929 after 1,003 more patients recovered in the last 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted.

In an interview with the Turkish daily Hurriyet, Koca said that Turkey is currently experiencing the second peak of the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak that started in March.

He blamed the resurgence in infections on the activities during the Eid al-Adha holiday in early August and the weddings held in the country.