Published: 10:14, May 10, 2021 | Updated: 22:58, May 10, 2021
India cases close to record highs as calls widen for lockdown
By Agencies

A health worker wearing a protective gear walks past coronavirus patients inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid care centre in New Delhi on May 10, 2021. (ARUN SANKAR / AFP)

KABUL / PHNOM PENH / SUVA / SEOUL / BAGHDAD / JERUSALEM / BEIRUT / MALE / ULAN BATOR / KATHMANDU / WELLINGTON / DOHA / RIYADH / SINGAPORE / BANGKOK / ANKARA / MANILA / DUBAI - Indian coronavirus infections and deaths held close to record daily highs on Monday, increasing calls for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lock down the world's second-most populous country.

India’s health authorities warned about a fungal infection seen in some COVID-19 patients which can disfigure facial features and even kill, as the country continues to grapple with the world’s fastest-growing coronavirus outbreak.

India is testing and vaccinating its citizens at a lower rate compared with recent months, Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, wrote on Twitter.

A prominent Sikh temple opened a hospital in the Indian capital New Delhi on Monday to help the country's overstretched health system cope with a surging second wave of the coronavirus. 

The temple, known as Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, located in New Delhi's main government district, will provide 400 beds equipped with oxygen, said Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president of the Delhi Sikh temple management committee.

Cases have risen 3.6 times in the last month and deaths 6.3 times, while testing has increased only 1.5 times and daily vaccine doses fallen 38 percent, Mukherjee said.

The data show that “we are losing momentum in fighting the virus,” said Rijo M. John, a Kerala-based economist and public health policy analyst who consults for the World Health Organization.

India's daily rise in coronavirus cases retreated from the 400,000 mark on Monday, while its daily rise in deaths also fell after two straight days of more than 4,000 fatalities.

The health ministry reported 366,161 new COVID-19 infections and 3,754 more deaths. India's total caseload now stands at 22.66 million, with 246,116 deaths.


Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed that the government is working on a roadmap to reopen the country's international borders.

"It's really built around the three principles of green lanes and opening up new bubbles with different safe countries, as we've done with New Zealand, and as we'll do with others in the Pacific and within the region as they become progressively safer," he told reporters on Sunday.

"Second part of the roadmap is in relation to our own domestic vaccination strategy, protecting the nation. And then the third element is the capacity for regular travel for those who have been vaccinated."

The government has previously flagged greater travel freedoms for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, including being able to quarantine at home rather than at hotels or in dedicated facilities on return to Australia.

Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) will ramp up COVID-19 vaccination as a mass vaccination center opened on Monday.

Residents aged 40 to 49 can register interest for Pfizer vaccine from Monday afternoon, while people aged 50 and over can make an appointment for the AstraZeneca vaccine from Wednesday.

During its first weeks of operation, the center will focus on delivering Pfizer vaccinations to priority groups including healthcare workers, emergency services workers as well as quarantine and border workers and their households.

NSW state reported zero COVID-19 cases for a fourth straight day on Monday, but concerns about new infections remained as the missing link in a case that has reinstated restrictions continued to elude officials.

Australia's most populous state on Sunday extended social distancing curbs in Sydney by a week after authorities could not find a transmission path between an infected overseas traveller and a resident in his 50s who tested positive last week.

An 80-year-old woman in the state of Western Australian (WA) developed bruising all over her body after receiving the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and health authorities are investigating the case.

Local media cited her daughter saying there was only a spot on the woman's tongue but it got bigger overnight. It progressed very quickly to the inside of her gums bleeding and everywhere she touched on her body came out in a huge dark bruise straight away.

Medical officers conduct a mass COVID-19 testing at a parking lot on Bondi Beach in Sydney on May 6, 2021, as administration implementing new restrictions after new cases of community transmission. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)


Twelve COVID-19 patients have died in Afghanistan within the last 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 2,710, the country's Ministry of Public Health reported on Monday.

The ministry also confirmed 340 new cases during the cited period, bringing the total number of infected people across the country to 62,403, including 5,311 active cases, the ministry said in a statement.


Bangladesh reported 1,514 new COVID-19 cases and 38 more deaths on Monday, making the tally at 775,027 and death toll at 11,972, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.

The official data showed that 16,848 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.

The total number of recovered patients in the country stood at 712,277 including 2,115 new recoveries on Monday, said the DGHS.

According to the official data, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh is 1.54 percent and the current recovery rate at 91.90 percent.


Australia signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Monday to contribute an additional 4 million Australian dollars (US$3.15 million) to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on Cambodia, the UNDP said in a press release.

Cambodia's total COVID-19 cases have risen to 19,743 on Monday after 506 new infections were confirmed across the country in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

The new cases included 495 local cases and 11 imported, the statement said.

Six more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 126, the statement said, adding that 179 patients have recovered, taking the total number of recoveries to 7,820.


Fiji reported on Monday night one locally transmitted COVID-19 case.

According to Fiji's Health Ministry, the new case is a woman from Fiji's capital city of Suva, who is considered to have been infected in the community.

Permanent Secretary for Fiji's Health Ministry James Fong said that all the containment areas, including Suva, will remain for another week.

He added that movement across Fiji's main island of Viti Levu is currently restricted for essential purposes only to avoid gatherings.


President Hassan Rouhani said some 13 million people in Iran, about 15 percent of the population, will be vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 22, as the country tries to combat the Middle East’s worst outbreak.

Rouhani said he expects all people in high-risk groups to receive at least their first dose by that date, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported, adding that two domestically developed shots will be ready for mass use by June.

ALSO READ: Virus: S'pore tests thousands as unlinked cases raise concerns


The Iraqi Ministry of Health on Sunday said that it needs more time to assess the epidemiological situation in the country in light of the recent decrease in COVID-19 infections, as the ministry reported 4,167 new cases.

"There has been a gradual decrease in the number of COVID-19 infections over the past days," spokesman of the ministry Sayf al-Badr said in a press release.

"We should not be in a hurry to assess the epidemiological situation, and we need a longer time," he said, noting that "the decrease in the number of COVID-19 infections depends on citizens' adherence to health-protective measures and vaccination."

Al-Badr's comments came as the ministry reported between 4,000 and 6,000 daily COVID-19 infections during the past days, down from 7,000 to over 8,000 in the previous days.

Meanwhile, a statement by the ministry reported 4,167 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, raising the total nationwide number to 1,112,725.

The ministry also reported 30 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 15,771, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 6,743 to 1,005,369.


The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 4,891 within one day to 1,718,575, with the death toll adding by 206 to 47,218, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

According to the ministry, 6,338 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 1,574,615.


Israel’s “Green Pass” was key to the highly inoculated country’s economic reopening, according to the country’s ambassador to Singapore. Critics say the pass infringes on civil liberties, an argument Sagi Karni called “nonsense.”

“You want to open the economy, you want to open up safely, and as a state you offer vaccination to all,” Karni said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “So why not have a certificate? Otherwise how do you know? It’s complicated, but it gives the whole system a way to move forward.”

Israel's Ministry of Health reported seven new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, raising the total number of cases in the country to 838,892.

The death toll from the virus increased by one to 6,377, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 85 to 80, out of 150 hospitalized patients.

This is the lowest number of patients in serious condition in Israel since July 2, 2020 when it stood at 72.


Chugai says Japan has agreed to secure the cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab, being evaluated as a potential treatment for COVID-19, for domestic use in 2021 if it’s approved by the Japanese regulatory authority. A Phase I clinical trial in Japan began in March of this year.


Kyrgyzstan added on Monday 254 new coronavirus cases, raising the total nationwide number to 98,654.

The country's headquarters for combating COVID-19 reported 257 new recoveries and five virus related deaths over the past day, taking the total recoveries to 91,816 and the death toll to 1,660.

Meanwhile, 1,683 COVID-19 patients are still in hospital and 2,496 people are receiving treatment at home.


Lao officials around the country are patrolling border areas to prevent people from entering Laos illegally from neighboring countries, especially across the Mekong River.

Officials will travel along the Mekong River to deter people crossing at unauthorized locations, as part of the efforts to prevent people from entering Laos illegally and avoiding screening for COVID-19, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Monday.

The Lao government is stepping up operations to prevent illegal immigration and conducting stringent checks of everyone entering Laos.


Lebanon registered on Sunday 570 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections to 532,839, the Health Ministry reported.

Meanwhile, death toll from the virus went up by 26 to 7,486.


Malaysia will extend its movement control order (MCO) currently enforced in several areas to cover the whole country till June to curb the recent spike of COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday.

The restrictions will take effect from May 12 to June 7, Muhyiddin said in a statement, adding that the measures are necessary due to the surge in new COVID-19 cases nationwide, especially in the wake of new variants and poor public discipline in following standard operating procedures (SOP).


Daily COVID-19 cases in the Maldives have surged past 1,000, local media citing the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reported here Monday.

HPA data showed that 1,091 new cases of COVID-19 were detected on Sunday, raising the total number of active cases up to 9,423. However, 300 of these cases were from the previous day due to a backlog in testing.


Mongolia registered 639 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 45,459, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Monday.

Meanwhile, eight more fatalities were reported, raising the death toll to 182, the center said, adding that 1,287 more recoveries were reported, bringing the nationwide count to 32,660.

Workers wearing protective gear construct the cremation place for the people who died due to the COVID-19 coronavirus on the banks of Bagmati river in Kathmandu on May 7, 2021. (BIKASH KARKI / AFP)


The confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by  8,850 to 394,667 in total on Sunday in Nepal, while 52 more deaths were reported during the past 24 hours, showed data released by the country's Ministry of Health and Population.

It is the fifth consecutive day that the country with a population of some 30 million recorded over 8,000 daily cases.

The country reported a record 58 deaths in 24 hours on May 5.

Health experts and officials have said more infections and deaths are expected in the days to come as the Himalayan country is suffering a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic.

New Zealand

New Zealand reported no new cases of COVID-19 either in the community or in managed isolation facilities on Monday.

Two previously reported cases have now recovered. The seven-day rolling average of new cases detected at the border is three. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 27, and the total number of confirmed cases is 2,288, according to the Ministry of Health.


The Omani health ministry on Monday announced 787 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the sultanate to 202,137, the official Oman News Agency (ONA) reported.

Meanwhile, 960 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall recoveries to 185,607, while 18 fatalities were reported, pushing the death toll up to 2,138, according to a ministry statement carried by ONA.


The Qatari health ministry on Sunday announced 389 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 210,992, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has announced its plan to hold Hajj ritual this year in a manner that ensures preserving health and safety of the pilgrims, the Saudi Press Agency reported Sunday.

The health authorities in the kingdom continue to assess conditions and take all measures to protect the health and well-being of the public, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said.

It added that organization details of the Hajj season will be announced later.

The ministry did not mention whether foreign pilgrims will be allowed to attend this season.

This picture taken in Monts, central France, on April 22, 2021, shows vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Recipharm plant. (GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP)


German vaccine developer BioNTech SE selected Singapore as its Southeast Asia headquarters and first Asia-Pacific hub, giving a boost to supply of an mRNA vaccine that’s been extraordinarily effective in fighting COVID-19.

The production site could be operational as early as 2023 and will create as many as 80 jobs in Singapore, the company said in a statement Monday.

The Mainz, Germany-based BioNTech said the planned state-of-the-art manufacturing site will support global supply of mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics and provide rapid-response options for Southeast Asia against potential future pandemic threats.

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 19 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the tally to 61,378.

Of the new cases, 16 are imported cases and three are community cases.

South Korea

The first of three expert panels in South Korea gave its recommendation on Monday for the government to grant approval of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine based on safety and efficacy of the shots in the US phase 3 trial.

The national pharmaceutical panel is scheduled to make its recommendation on Thursday, but the government will wait for a third panel, which has not said when it will reach its conclusion, before deciding whether to grant approval.

South Korea reported 463 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 127,772.

Sri Lanka

COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka topped 125,000 on Monday with 2,672 new cases reported a day earlier, the highest single-day record, the Health Ministry said. 

According to official statistics, 125,906 cases have been detected to date since the first local case reported in March last year, out of which 104,463 patients had recovered and been discharged from hospitals. So far, 801 deaths have been reported from the virus in the country.


 The number of COVID-19 cases in Thailand increased by 1,630 to 85,005, the country's Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said on Monday.

A total of 22 deaths were reported, bringing the national death toll to 421.

A 25-week pregnant Thai woman became the first person in the country to be diagnosed with the Indian variant of the virus.

The nation’s COVID-19 panel will hold a meeting to discuss measures to tackle the Indian variant, according to Apisamai Srirangsan, a COVID-19 center spokeswoman. 

The Philippines

The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported Monday 6,846 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,108,826.

The death toll climbed to 18,562 after 90 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.


Turkey on Sunday confirmed 15,191 new COVID-19 cases, including 2,102 symptomatic patients, raising the total number of cases in the country to 5,031,332, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 283 to 43,029, while the total recoveries climbed to 4,716,918 after 25,694 more people recovered in the last 24 hours.

A man shops at an open air market after they were re-opened across Turkey even although the country is experiencing it's strictest lockdown to fight against the coronavirus, COVID-19, and amid an economic downturn with double digit inflation, in Ankara on May 8, 2021. (ADEM ALTAN / AFP)

READ MORE: Indian states impose stricter lockdowns as deaths hit record high


The United Arab Emirates will bar entry to non-UAE resident travellers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka starting on Wednesday to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it said on Monday.

The UAE last month banned entry to travellers from India to guard against the spread of the highly contagious Indian variant.

“Flights between the four countries will continue to allow the transport of passengers from the UAE to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka,” the Gulf state’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) said.

The ban includes transit flights coming from those countries. Transit flights to those countries can continue.


Vietnam reported 125 new local coronavirus cases on Monday, its health ministry said, as it sees a steady rise in infections after more than a month without a domestic case. Vietnam's latest outbreak has spread to 26 of 63 provinces, authorities said. It has recorded a total 3,461 coronavirus cases, with just 35 deaths, due largely to its strong containment record.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh warned the nation could face political instability if the current coronavirus outbreak spreads nationwide, according to a post on the government’s website. 

Vietnam recorded 80 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 6:00 pm local time Sunday to 6:00 am Monday.