Published: 10:23, March 15, 2021 | Updated: 22:39, June 4, 2023
Indonesia delays distribution of AstraZeneca's vaccine
By Agencies

A woman receives a shot of China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination for people above the age of 60 at Adam Malik Hospital in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, March 8, 2021. (BINSAR BAKKARA / AP)

ANKARA / AMMAN / JERUSALEM / KUALA LUMPUR / DHAKA / HANOI / TASHKENT / BISHKEK / JAKARTA / COLOMBO / TOKYO - Indonesia will delay the administering of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine due to reports of blood clots among some recipients in Europe and would await a review from the World Health Organization (WHO), its health minister said on Monday.

The country’s food and drug regulator is conducting an assessment for quality control before distributing them, a process that may take two to three weeks, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a spokesperson for the health Mministry said in a text message on Monday.

The decision will leave Indonesia with just one approved vaccine, developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, for use in its nationwide vaccination drive

The decision will leave Indonesia with just one approved vaccine, developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, for use in its nationwide vaccination drive.

Indonesia expects to receive 20.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna Inc and China's Sinopharm from the second quarter to use in a private vaccination scheme, the head of a state pharmaceutical firm said earlier on Monday.

Honesti Basyir, CEO of Bio Farma, told a parliamentary hearing that it had ordered 15 million doses from China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and 5.2 million from Moderna.

Indonesia's health ministry reported Monday 5,589 new cases and 147 more deaths, bringing the tally to 1,425,044 and the toll to 38,573.

The total number of recoveries increased by 6,830 to 1,249,947.

Thailand 

Thailand will start using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday after a brief delay due to concerns over its safety, officials said, with the prime minister and his cabinet due to be the first to receive it.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Monday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, imported for use in Thailand, has been reassured as safe and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will get a shot of the vaccine Tuesday.

Other cabinet members, aged 60 years or older, are also scheduled to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine Tuesday, according to Anutin.

Thailand on Monday confirmed 78 new COVID-19 cases, mostly via active testing, and one more fatality, according to the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Of Monday's new cases, 74 were domestic infections while four others referred to imported cases, said CCSA spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangsan.

The new domestic cases, detected via active testing for the coronavirus, included 36 in Samut Sakhon and 22 in the capital Bangkok, among other provinces, Apisamai said.

The new fatality, raising the total death toll to 87, was an 88-year-old Thai man in Pathum Thani, who had a kidney failure, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, she said.

Japan

Tokyo on Monday reported 175 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the Japanese capital's tally to 115,584.

The death toll rose by nine to 1,589, said the local government and health officials.

Officials said the seven-day average of daily cases stood at 287.6, which is 113.5 percent of the average for the previous week.

Of the 175 new COVID-19 cases in the capital of 14 million on Monday, the majority were in their 20s, followed by patients aged in their 40s.

The third-highest age category comprised those in their 30s, followed by those aged in their 50s, the local government and health officials said.

Malaysia

Malaysia will begin administering the COVID-19 vaccines made by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, the coordinating minister for the national COVID-19 immunization program said Monday.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccines would be rolled out starting Thursday, and that he himself would be the first to receive the jab in Negeri Sembilan state.

Malaysia is receiving a batch of finished Sinovac vaccine doses from China on Monday with another batch expected on March 22.

Earlier, Malaysia took delivery of its first batch of the Sinovac vaccine on Feb 27. 

Meanwhile, Malaysia will continue to research clinical data of the AstraZeneca vaccine while it awaits delivery of the shots, Khairy said. Khairy said there’s no change in Malaysia’s stance on the vaccine as there’s no data to show it the risk of blood clots.

Malaysia recorded 1,208 new cases on Monday, the smallest daily increase in three months, bringing the cumulative tally to 324,971.

Deaths rose by three to 1,213.

Vietnam

Vietnam recorded three new cases of COVID-19 infection on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 2,557, according to the Ministry of Health.

The new cases involved Vietnamese citizens who recently returned to the country from abroad and were quarantined upon arrival.

Meanwhile on Monday, the human trials of COVIVAC, Vietnam's second homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, began with the first six volunteers injected. The trials will be held in two phases, with 120 volunteers aged from 18 to 59 involved in the first phase, according to the ministry.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's capital city administration said Monday it will strictly enforce compliance with COVID-19 safety precautions, especially on public transport, following a rise in new infections.

Uzbekistan registered 111 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest daily increase in the country since December 2020, of which 93 new infections were reported in the capital city Tashkent.

Relevant public organizations have been tasked with ensuring full compliance with the current quarantine requirements and norms in all districts, as well as in workplaces, educational institutions, markets, shopping centers and public transport, said the municipal government.

Bus drivers must check their body temperatures regularly. Passengers not wearing medical masks are not permitted to use public transport, it said.

Uzbekistan has so far registered 80,678 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 622 related deaths.

Kyrgyzstan

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Kyrgyzstan reached 86,917 after 67 new cases were registered on Monday.

The death toll rose by two to 1,483 while the total recoveries went up by 39 to 83,875, Kyrgyzstan's Republican Headquarters for Combating COVID-19 said.

There were still 620 active cases in the country, including 345 patients in hospitals and 275 receiving treatment at home.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Education Ministry on Monday said it will reopen schools across the country, including the Western Province, on April 19, after schools were ordered to shut last October due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry said in a statement it had reopened schools for grades 5, 11 and 13 from Monday, but all other grades would return to schools from April 19, after the local Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Sri Lanka rose to 527 on Monday after one more death was reported, statistics from the Health Ministry showed.

To date, Sri Lanka has detected 87,907 confirmed cases, including 84,648 recoveries.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh reported 1,773 new COVID-19 cases and 26 more deaths on Monday, bringing the tally to 559,168 and the death toll to 8,571, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.

The total number of recoveries went up by 1,432 to 513,127, said the DGHS.

Bangladesh has so far vaccinated some 4 million people, including frontliners, diplomats, and those above 40 years old.

Jordan

Protests erupted across many of Jordan’s cities and provincial towns against the government’s coronavirus restrictions, a day after oxygen ran out at a state hospital leading to the deaths of at least six COVID-19 patients, witnesses said on Sunday.

Hundreds of people spilled into the streets in defiance of a night curfew in the northern city of Irbid and several other provincial cities including a neighbourhood in the capital and the city of Salt. Protesters also gathered further south in Karak city and the port city of Aqaba.

“Down with the government. We don’t fear coronavirus,” hundreds of youths chanted in Irbid where outrage at the hospital scandal combined with anger over tighter restrictions that include extending a night curfew to stem a major surge of infections driven by a more contagious variant of the virus.

Jordan on Sunday reported 8,053 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the total cases to 477,053 in the country.

The country reported 61 new deaths, increasing the country's COVID-19 death toll to 5,346, according to a joint statement issued by the Prime Ministry and the Ministry of Health.

A total of 42,852 virus tests were conducted on Sunday, bringing the cumulative number of virus tests administered since the outbreak of the pandemic to 5,174,645, according to the statement.

A medical worker receives a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the National Medical Center vaccination center in Seoul, Feb 27, 2021. (PHOTO / AP)

South Korea

South Korea's health authorities said Monday that it aims to administer the first jab of COVID-19 vaccines to 12 million people by the end of June out of the country's 52-million population.

The country launched its mass vaccination campaign on Feb 26, administering the first shot of vaccines to a total of 588,958 people, mostly patients aged 65 or lower at nursing homes and medical staff treating COVID-19 patients as of Sunday midnight.

The first-phase administration is set to be completed by the end of March, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The second-phase administration, slated to last from the fourth week of March to June, will involve six major groups, including patients and employees at nursing facilities aged 65 or higher, and virus-vulnerable facilities for the elderly, the disabled and the homeless.

Among the general public, those aged 65 or older will get inoculated during the first half.

Vaccine recipients on the list will include a part of teachers and healthcare personnel in preschools, daycare centers and primary schools; patients with chronic kidney failure and chronic severe respiratory disease; and socially required personnel and health, medical staff such as flight attendants, police, firefighters, soldiers and staff in hospitals and pharmacies.

The third-phase administration was scheduled to begin in July, mostly focusing on the general public.

South Korea aims to get 70 percent of its population vaccinated by September, and to form a herd immunity no later than November.

South Korea reported 382 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 96,017.

The daily caseload was down from 459 in the previous day, falling below 400 in seven days due to fewer virus tests over the weekend.

Gyeonggi province, the country’s most populous province, has ordered all of its foreign workers to be tested for COVID-19 by March 22, sparking complaints of long lines and logistical problems, as well as of implicit xenophobia in government messaging.

As of Sunday, 120,310 foreigners had been tested, with 120 testing positive, a provincial official told Reuters.

The Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque confirmed on Monday he had tested positive for COVID-19, but said he had not been in contact with the country’s leader since receiving his test results.

Roque said he regularly got himself tested before meeting with Duterte so Monday’s result “came as a shock”.

The last time he was with Duterte was on March 11, he said, adding he had tested negative the day before the meeting and kept his distance from the president

The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday that 5,404 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, the highest daily tally in seven months, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 626,893.

Monday's tally is the fourth highest daily rise on record in the Southeast Asian country since the epidemic started in the country last year.

The death toll climbed to 12,837 after eight more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added that 71 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 560,577.

Nepal

Nepal's drug regulator has permitted private companies to import the COVID-19 vaccines to ensure early availability of vaccines and support the ongoing vaccination drive against the pandemic.

By issuing a notice on Sunday, the Department of Drug Administration asked interested manufacturing companies and their authorized importers or sellers to apply for the import of vaccines within seven days with all required documents.

The vaccines that have got the emergency use authorization from the department as well as those included in the Emergency Use Listing of the World Health Organization (WHO) can be imported, according to the notice.

The Nepali government has so far granted emergency use authorization to Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Vero Cell, the inactivated vaccine manufactured by Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd under Sinopharm.

Turkey 

Turkey on Sunday confirmed 13,378 new COVID-19 cases, including 852 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 2,879,390, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 68 to 29,489, while the total recoveries climbed to 2,701,076 after 15,516 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours.

The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients stands at 3.8 percent and the number of seriously ill patients is 1,392 in the country, said the ministry.

A total of 132,425 tests were conducted over the past day, with the overall number of tests in Turkey reaching 35,126,003.

The country started mass vaccination against COVID-19 on Jan. 14 after the authorities approved the emergency use of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine. More than 7,896,000 people have been vaccinated so far.

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Iran

Iran on Sunday warned of the resurgence of COVID-19 pandemic during the upcoming Iranian new year Nowruz starting on March 20. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll in Israel crossed 6,000.

The observance of health protocols in Iran has reached its lowest level in the past four months, said Sima Sadat Lari, the spokeswoman for Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education.

"We hope that all people observe the hygiene principles, and avoid unnecessary travels and gatherings to prevent another wave of this disease in the country," she said.

Iran reported 7,593 COVID-19 cases and 88 new deaths on Sunday, raising the total nationwide infections to 1,746,953 and the death toll to 61,230, said Lari.

All the flights from Iraq to Iran were suspended for one week as of Sunday, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization announced in a statement.

This decision was made as a preemptive measure to protect the health of the Iranian citizens amidst the spread of a mutated type of COVID-19, said the statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.

Israel

The COVID-19 death toll in Israel reached 6,008 with the addition of 20 new fatalities on Sunday, Israeli Ministry of Health said.

The ministry also reported 868 new COVID-19 cases, raising the coronavirus tally in the Israel to 818,548.

The number of patients in serious condition increased from 626 to 640, out of 1,031 hospitalized patients.

The total recoveries in Israel rose to 784,566, with 8,467 newly recovered cases, while the number of active cases decreased to 27,974.

The number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 in Israel has reached nearly 5.14 million, or 55.2 percent of its total population, since the vaccination campaign began on Dec. 20, 2020.

Iraq

The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Sunday 3,866 new COVID-19 cases, bringing Iraq's total nationwide infections to 758,184.

The new cases included 1,021 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, 622 in Basra, 470 in Najaf, 267 in Wasit, and 202 in Erbil, while the other cases were detected in other provinces, the ministry said in a statement.

It also reported 32 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,751, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 3,942 to 685,770.

A total of 7,386,457 tests have been carried out across the country since the outbreak of the disease in February 2020, with 33,405 done during the day.

Lebanon

Lebanon registered on Sunday 3,086 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of coronavirus infections in the country to 418,448.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus-related deaths went up by 46 to 5,380 in Lebanon, the Lebanese Health Ministry reported.

Lebanon received on Saturday a new batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, bringing the total number of vaccines it has received to 170,820.

Kuwait

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry reported on Sunday 1,063 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 209,523.

The ministry also announced seven more deaths, taking the death toll to 1,172, while the tally of recoveries rose by 1,390 to 194,172. A total of 14,179 coronavirus patients are receiving treatment, including 209 in ICU.

Kuwait has imposed a partial curfew that runs from 5 pm to 5 am local time between March 7 and April 8, as part of its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Oman

The Omani health ministry on Sunday announced 1,610 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the sultanate to 146,867, the official Oman News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, 1,202 people recovered, taking the overall recoveries to 136,429, while eight deaths were reported, pushing the tally up to 1,608, according to a ministry statement quoted by ONA.

The ministry urged everyone to adhere to social distancing instructions issued by the Supreme Committee entrusted with handling the novel coronavirus.

Singapore

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 17 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the country's total tally to 60,105.

All the new infections are imported cases, who had already been placed on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) upon arrival in Singapore. Among the new cases, 15 are asymptomatic and they were detected from the proactive screening and surveillance. The two others are symptomatic.

Qatar

The Qatari health ministry on Sunday announced 485 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 170,252, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

Meanwhile, 321 more recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 158,197, while the fatalities increased by one to 266, according to a ministry statement quoted by QNA.

A total of 1,622,518 persons in Qatar have taken lab tests for COVID-19 so far.

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Brunei

Brunei reported seven new imported cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing its total tally of confirmed coronavirus infections to 199.

According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, all of the new cases are imported cases from Malaysia who arrived in the country via Singapore on March 1. The contact tracing for these cases is still being conducted and all the new cases are currently in the National Isolation Center for treatment and monitoring with the other four active cases.

India

India continued to witness a surge in daily COVID-19 cases as five states, namely Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, cumulatively accounted for 78.41 percent of the new cases reported between Sunday and Monday morning, according to an official statement.

As many as 26,291 new cases were registered in between Sunday morning and Monday morning, the highest daily increase seen this year so far.

The southwestern state of Maharashtra reported the highest number with 16,620 fresh infections, or nearly 63.21 percent of the new cases.

"A rising trajectory of daily new cases is visible in eight states, namely Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka and Haryana," reads a statement issued by the federal health ministry.

The southern state of Kerala, which has been one of the most COVID-19 affected states in the country, witnessed a declining trend over the last one month, according to the statement.

To date, India has reported a total of 11,385,339 confirmed cases. The toll went up by 118 to 158,725, according to official data.

The number of active cases stood at 219,262, representing 1.93 percent of the total number of positive cases. The states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Punjab cumulatively accounted for 77 percent of India's total active cases. Maharashtra state alone accounted for more than 58 percent of the total active cases in the country.

Mongolia 

Mongolia imposed a two-week restriction on travel of all types of roads linking capital Ulan Bator and the 21 provinces starting from Monday due to resurging COVID-19 cases.

Mongolia reported 122 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the national count to 4,083, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Monday.

The latest cases were confirmed after 9,410 tests had been conducted across the country, among which 121 cases were locally transmitted, including five of unknown origin, while another one is a Mongolian national returning from Khazakstan, the NCCD said in a statement.

Papua New Guinea

The number of COVID-19 cases in Papua New Guinea (PNG) stood at well over 2,000 on Monday as officials sought a solution to the recent steep rise.

Virus numbers has more than doubled in PNG within the past month -- largely in the capital city of Port Moresby -- raising concerns about the ability of local medical services to cope.

Prime Minister James Marape returned to the capital from East Sepik province, where he was attending funeral services for former leader Sir Michael Somare.

New Zealand

New Zealand reported seven cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation on Monday, with no new cases in the community.

The new imported cases came from the Netherlands, India and Pakistan, with the other three cases' travel itineraries pending, according to the Ministry of Health.

Australia

A quarantine hotel in the Australian State of Queensland was placed into lockdown on Sunday, with genomic sequencing showing the likely spread of COVID-19 between returned overseas travelers.

Last week a local doctor was tested positive for the B117 strain of virus after treating two patients who were transferred from the hotel to a nearby hospital.

Subsequent testing showed another guest who had been quarantining in a different room at the hotel had the same variant of the virus, raising the likelihood of further spread within the hotel.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Sonya Bennett explained that the whole genomic sequencing had confirmed the likely spread between guests at the hotel.

Laos 

A total of 122,849 people in Laos have received COVID-19 tests since January 2020, according to a report released by the Lao Ministry of Health.

Laos has conducted 122,849 tests for COVID-19 since January 2020, with 49 positive, and 43 patients have been discharged from the hospitals, Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control under the Lao Ministry of Health Latsamy Vongkhamsao told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Monday.

Cambodia 

Cambodia on Monday confirmed 20 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the kingdom to 1,325 so far, said a Ministry of Health (MoH) statement.

The new infections included 18 local cases in capital Phnom Penh and two imported cases, the statement said.

Cambodia has been enduring the third community COVID-19 outbreak since Feb. 20, with at least 810 people infected so far.

In a bid to contain the pandemic, the country has closed down all schools, sports facilities, museums, cinemas and other entertainment venues in cities and provinces, where the virus has been found.