Published: 10:25, September 24, 2020 | Updated: 16:22, June 5, 2023
UAE reopens all seven regions to foreign visitors
By Agencies

An Emirati man wearing a face mask against the COVID-19 stands at the Sharjah Art Museum on Aug 24, 2020 in the United Arab Emirates. (PHOTO / AFP)

SINGAPORE / JERUSALEM / DUBAI / SEOUL / WELLINGTON -The United Arab Emirates will resume issuing visas to foreign visitors to all seven of its regions as of Thursday after a six-month suspension imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, state media reported.

Dubai, the region’s tourism and business hub and one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, had already lifted its own visa ban in July.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship said in a statement carried in state media that the decision was taken as part of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the Gulf state as well as efforts to support economic recovery plans.

All six Gulf Arab countries have lifted internal curfews and lockdowns, but restrictions on gatherings and foreign travel remain in the oil-producing region, where the total number of COVID cases stands at over 800,000, with more than 6,800 deaths.

Neighbouring Oman said on Thursday it would resume scheduled international flights on Oct 1 with strict measures to protect the country and aviation staff from the virus.

Myanmar 

Myanmar has quarantined tens of thousands of people to prevent a coronavirus outbreak from overwhelming its fragile healthcare system but public health experts and doctors say the strategy is on the brink of collapse as infections surge.

The Southeast Asian nation is housing more than 45,000 people, including COVID-19 patients as well as those yet to be tested, their close contacts and returning migrant workers, in buildings from schools and monasteries to government offices and tower blocks, mostly run by volunteers.

Even those with no symptoms or mild symptoms are hospitalised or quarantined, part of an ambitious plan to stop the virus swamping a chronically underfunded health system.

But the “maximum containment” strategy pursued by Myanmar since its first cases were confirmed in March could backfire if overburdened facilities put people off quarantine altogether, public health expert Kyaw San Wai told Reuters.

The death toll from COVID-19 in Myanmar rose to 150, with 17 newly reported deaths on Thursday night, according to a release from the Health and Sports Ministry.

A total of 517 confirmed cases were also reported in the country on Thursday night, the release said.

Australia

Australian state of Victoria recorded 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday when its capital city Melbourne's daily case average was brought down further.

As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 26,983 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours is 17.

The national death toll increased by two on Thursday to 861, with both deaths were linked to aged care facilities in Victoria, the hardest-hit state by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Of the new cases, Victoria confirmed 12 and reclassified seven that had been previously diagnosed, resulting in a net increase of five.

Australia's largest city Sydney will undergo a hospitality facelift to aid with its recovery from COVID-19, with officials slashing restrictions on outdoor dining and 24-hour entertainment.

India

Chief Minister of Indian capital city New Delhi Arvind Kejriwal Thursday said the second wave of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has already peaked in the city and in coming days it will witness a decline in cases.

"From July 1 to Aug 17, cases were in control. We noticed that cases were increased and daily cases reached 4,500 on Sept. 17 and are now coming down. So experts are believing that the second wave of coronavirus which had hit Delhi is now on the peak and its intensity will be less in the coming days," Kejriwal was quoted by a local news agency as having said.

Delhi is the sixth most-affected state in India with 256,789 COVID-19 cases including 5,087 deaths.

Kejriwal also said that the daily testing of COVID-19 samples in the capital city has increased from the earlier 20,000 a day mark to 60,000 at present.

The Indian national capital saw its first COVID-19 case in March and since then numbers have been increasing. In this course, several lawmakers and ministers in local Delhi government contracted the infection.

Iraq

The Iraqi health authorities decided Thursday to lift the nationwide partial curfew, while the Health Ministry reported 4,471 new COVID-19 cases across the country.

The Iraqi Higher Committee for Health and National Safety, headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, decided to lift the partial curfew which was scheduled from 10:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 05:00 a.m. (0200 GMT), local media reported citing an official document issued by the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers.

The committee also highlighted the necessity of applying the health preventive measures inside the government institutions and private sector offices.

READ MORE: Iran records highest single-day COVID-19 infections

Isreal

Israel's Ministry of Health reported 11,316 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 204,690.

The number of total death cases reached 1,325, with 40 new fatalities, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 668 to 657, out of 1,370 patients currently hospitalized.

Israel's coronavirus cabinet decided on Wednesday to impose a full nationwide closure as the country's soaring daily new cases showed no signs of decelerating.

The new restrictions are scheduled to begin on Friday and will last at least until the evening of Simhat Torah, a major Jewish holiday, on Oct 10.

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Lebanon

Lebanon's number of COVID-19 infections increased by 940 cases to 31,778 while the death toll went up by 13 to 328, the Health Ministry reported.

Director General of Rafic Hariri University Hospital Firas Abiad said that Lebanon needs to deal with the virus by adopting a new approach after the remarkable increase in cases in the past few days.

Abiad said he advises to shut the country down for two weeks to control the spread of the virus. But he is conscious that citizens may not commit to new lockdown measures given the dire economic situation in the country.

New Zealand 

New Zealand reported three new cases of COVID-19 as Auckland, the country's largest city, embraced the first day of relaxed restrictions on Thursday.

Auckland eased restrictions on gatherings, moving down from COVID-19 Alert Level 2.5 to 2, which means that gathering restrictions will be loosened from 10 to 100 people.

Other parts of the country relaxed restrictions and moved down to Alert Level 1 at midnight Monday. At Level 1, people need to be ready in case COVID-19 reappears. The new levels will be in place for 14 days before new decisions are made on Oct 5.

Thursday's cases were detected in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities. There are no new community cases, according to the Ministry of Health.

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask walks through the garden area at Guoco Tower during a phased lockdown due to the coronavirus in the central business district of Singapore, on June 2, 2020.  (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)

Pakistan

Pakistan virus cases increased by 799 in the past 24 hours, the highest in almost seven weeks, as it gradually increases testing with schools re-opening. The positive cases among tests has continued to around 2 percent.

The South Asian nation’s cases reached a peak in mid-June but has gradually declined, allowing it to reopen its economy.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday stressed the need for regional countries' cooperation to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qureshi was addressing a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Ministers via video link. SAARC comprises eight member states which are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Palestine

Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila announced three deaths and 503 new COVID-19 cases in the Palestinian territories.

"Since the outbreak of the disease in the Palestinian territories, the health ministry recorded 47,117 cases, including 317 deaths, 34,421 recovered cases, and 12,379 receiving medical care," the minister said.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia announced 561 new infections and 27 more deaths, raising the tally of confirmed cases to 331,359 and the death toll to 4,569. The total recoveries in the kingdom rose by 1,102 to 313,786.

Singapore

Singapore will allow more people to return to offices and trial a new business travel pass for senior executives as the city moves to re-open more of its economy amid ebbing virus cases.

Though working from home remains the default, the updated requirements allow office staff to return up to half their working time, with no more than half of such employees at the workplace at any point in time, the health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Authorities said the updated measures were “carefully considered to balance the concerns of employers regarding the impact of extended periods of working-from-home on productivity and workplace relations, while creating safe workplaces for employees,” it said. The updated measures will take effect from Sept 28.

With the business passes, which will be strictly limited at first, they will be for executives with regional or international responsibilities who need to travel regularly, the ministry said. Travelers on this pass will have the option of doing a virus test instead of stay-home notice upon return to Singapore, and self-isolate until the test results are out.

Cars queue for hours at a COVID-19 testing station setup at Eden Park, National Sports Stadium, in Auckland on Aug 14, 2020 (DAVID ROWLAND / AFP)

South Korea

South Korea added 125 more coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours compared to 110 a day earlier, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. The total number of confirmed cases rose to 23,341, and the death tally rose by five to 393.

The Philippines

The number of confirmed coronavirus disease cases in the Philippines surged to 296,755 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,180 new cases on Thursday.

The DOH said that the number of recoveries also rose to 231,928 after it reported 580 more patients have survived the disease.

The DOH added that 36 more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, bringing the death toll to 5,127.

Turkey

Turkey reported 1,767 COVID-19 cases, raising the total diagnosed patients to 308,069 in the country, the Turkish Health Ministry announced.

In the past 24 hours, 72 people died, taking the death toll to 7,711. A total of 1,027 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, raising the total recoveries to 270,723 in Turkey.

Iran 

The number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in Iran reached on Thursday 436,319, after an overnight registration of 3,521, according to the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education.

Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the ministry, said at her daily briefing that 1,569 of the newly infected patients needed hospitalization.

In addition, 175 more deaths from the novel coronavirus were registered in the past 24 hours, taking the total death toll in Iran to 25,015, she added.

A total of 367,829 COVID-19 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals so far, while 3,957 remain in critical condition in intensive care units, according to the spokeswoman.

As of Thursday, 3,854,827 laboratory tests for the virus have been carried out in Iran, the spokeswoman said.

The risk of coronavirus infection is currently high in 24 out of 31 Iranian provinces.

Oman

The Omani health ministry on Thursday announced 568 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Sultanate to 95,907, the official Oman News Agency (ONA) reported.

Meanwhile, 283 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall number of recoveries to 86,765, while 10 more were confirmed dead, raising the tally to 885, according to a ministry statement quoted by ONA.

The ministry urged everyone to adhere to social distancing instructions issued by the supreme committee and the ministry of health, as well as staying home and avoiding to go out unless necessary.

Kuwait 

Kuwait on Thursday reported 552 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 101,851 and the death toll to 592, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Currently, 8,298 patients are receiving treatment, including 101 in ICU, according to the statement.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 620 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 92,961.

On Sept. 14, the Kuwaiti government decided to postpone the fifth phase of a plan to return to normal until further notice.

During the fifth phase, theaters and cinemas would be allowed to reopen and all social events permitted to be held.

Kuwait and China have been supporting each other and cooperating closely in combating the COVID-19.

Bangladesh 

Bangladesh reported 1,540 new COVID-19 cases and 28 new deaths on Thursday, making the tally at 355,384 and death toll at 5,072, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.

The official data showed that 12,900 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.

The total number of recovered patients in the country stood at 265,092 including 2,139 new recoveries on Thursday, said the DGHS.

Indonesia 

The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 4,634 within one day to 262,022, with the death toll adding by 128 to 10,105, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

According to the ministry, 3,895 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 191,853.

The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.

Specifically, within the past 24 hours, Jakarta recorded 1,044 new cases, West Java 804, Central Java 434, East Java 343 and West Sumatra 302.

No more new positive cases were found in three provinces, namely Gorontalo, Maluku and West Papua.

Indonesia banned political parties and campaign teams from holding mass gatherings to contain the spread of COVID-19 ahead of polls on Dec 9. The general elections supervisory body, or Bawaslu, will give a written warning to those violating the provisions or disperse the gathering, according to the rule issued by the nation’s general elections committee, known as KPU.

Malaysia 

Malaysia reported 71 new COVID-19 infections, the health ministry said on Thursday, bringing the national total to 10,576.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that two of the new cases are imported and 69 are local transmissions, most from Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah.

Another 64 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total cured and discharged cases to 9,666, or 91.4 percent of all cases.

Of the remaining 777 active cases, six are being held in intensive care units and two of those are in need of assisted breathing.

No new deaths have been reported, leaving the total deaths at 133.

Qatar

The Qatari Health Ministry on Wednesday announced 250 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of the confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 124,425, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

Meanwhile, 257 more recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 121,263, while the fatalities remained 212 as no new deaths were reported, according to a ministry statement quoted by QNA.

The ministry reiterated the need to take preventive measures, including staying at home and observing social distancing.