Published: 11:11, June 21, 2021 | Updated: 22:49, June 21, 2021
India's vaccinations hit record with free COVID-19 shots
By Agencies

A member of the transgender community gets inoculated with the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in Mumbai on June 20, 2021. (SUJIT JAISWAL / AFP)

NEW DELHI / KABUL / SYDNEY / HANOI / COLOMBO / PHNOM PENH / KUALA LUMPUR / JAKARTA / BISHKEK / ULAN BATOR / BANGKOK / DHAKA / VIENTIANE / TEHRAN / YANGON / BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN / SINGAPORE / KATHMANDU / ISLAMABAD / WELLINGTON / MANILA / SEOUL / JAKARTA / TOKYO - India gave out a record 7.5 million vaccine doses on Monday under a federal campaign to inoculate all adults for free after weeks of criticism that a chaotic rollout had worsened a second wave that killed hundreds of thousands.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government would buy 75 percent of all vaccines from drug makers and distribute them for free to states, which along with private hospitals had earlier been buying shots for people aged 18-45.

India's previous record of 4.5 million doses was on April 5, followed by a sharp decline with average daily inoculation falling below 3 million.

Experts have said India needs to administer 10 million doses a day to achieve its aim of inoculating 950 million adults by December. So far, India has fully vaccinated fewer than 5 percent with two doses.

India's COVID-19 tally rose to 29,935,221 on Monday, with 53,256 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours, said the health ministry.

This was the second consecutive day when less than 60,000 daily cases were reported in a day. The number of new cases is the lowest in the past 88 days, said the health ministry.

Besides, 1,422 more patients died during the period, taking the death toll to 388,135.


An additional 1,847 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 105,749, said a statement of the Public Health Ministry on Monday.

According to the statement, 78 more deaths from the coronavirus epidemic were reported in the same period, bringing the COVID-19 related death toll to 4,293 since its outbreak in February 2020 in the Asian country.


Australian states and territories will get more doses of COVID-19 vaccines soon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, as authorities look to avoid further delays in an immunisation drive that has hit several roadblocks.

Australian states have been asking for increased supplies of vaccines after Australia last week announced a policy shift that recommended AstraZeneca shots for people only above 60 years due to clot concerns, throwing the rollout into disarray.

Australia's nationwide vaccination programme missed several initial targets due to patchy international vaccine supplies while changing medical advice on AstraZeneca doses further slowed down an already sluggish programme.

Only 4 percent of Australia's adult population of 20 million have been fully vaccinated while more than 25 percent have had at least their first dose.

To accelerate the rollout drive, the federal government plans to distribute around 2.3 million doses of Pfizer vaccine in June to the states and territories, and looks to ramp it up to 3.4 million through July.

Australia has to rely on overseas shipments for its Pfizer shots while the AstraZeneca ones are produced locally.

Health staff register residents at a COVID-19 drive through testing site on Bondi Beach in Sydney on June 17, 2021, after the reports of the four fresh positive cases. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)


Bangladesh reported 3,641 new cases of COVID-19 and 82 new deaths from the epidemic on Sunday, bringing the total tally to 851,668 with 13,548 deaths.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said that 22,231 samples were tested in the past 24 hours till 8 am Sunday across the Asian country.


A total of 50,400 doses of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine arrived in Brunei from Spain on Sunday, the first batch out of the 200,000 doses of Moderna vaccine procured by the country.

According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, the Brunei Darussalam Medicines Control Authority (BDMCA) has verified the safety and efficacy of the Moderna vaccine following a stringent scientific assessment process by the National COVID-19 Vaccines Technical Committee. The BDMCA has granted special authorization to administer the Moderna vaccine in Brunei.

Brunei announced that five COVID-19 vaccine candidates from Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, China's Sinopharm, and Johnson and Johnson will be administered in the country. All Brunei citizens and residents, including foreign nationals with a valid identification card, can receive the COVID-19 vaccination for free.

The Sultanate reported two new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the national tally to 255.

ALSO READ: Southeast Asia's virus surge prompts shutdowns and alarm


Cambodia on Monday confirmed 735 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the national caseload to 43,446, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said in a statement.

The new infections included 708 local cases and 27 imported cases, the ministry said.

Ten more fatalities were reported, bringing the death toll to 441, the ministry said, adding that 514 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 38,003.


Indonesia reported 14,536 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic, taking its overall cases past the 2 million mark.

Health ministry showed there were 294 more deaths, taking total fatalities to 54,956, with 2,004,445 cases overall.

Indonesia is relying heavily on vaccines to stem the pandemic, with a pledge to administer 1 million doses a day in July, as well as movement limits. All non-essential businesses must stop operating at 8 pm, while religious and social gatherings are banned in areas most at-risk, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said on Monday. The police and army have been deployed to ensure compliance, and the measures are effective through July 5, he added.

The delta variant, which was first detected in India and has since spread globally, were a dominant strain in Kudus and Bengkalan towns in Java, which have became virus hot spots along with Jakarta.

The hospitalization rate in Jakarta has exceeded 90 percent even if the government can add more as there are 34,000 beds in total with 17,300 currently allocated for COVID-19 patients, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said at the same briefing. The capital is in need of 1,179 more healthcare workers, while neighboring West Java province needs 400, Fadhillah said.Iran

Iran on Sunday reported 8,161 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country's total infections to 3,095,135.

The pandemic has so far claimed 82,965 lives in Iran, up by 111 in the past 24 hours, the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education reported.

By Sunday, 4,384,451 people have received first doses of coronavirus vaccines in the country, with 919,557 taking two doses.

This aerial picture shows a funeral taking place at a cemetery for COVID-19 victims in Jakarta on June 21, 2021. (BAY ISMOYO / AFP)


Olympic organizers are expected to decide later on Monday whether and to what extent domestic spectators will be allowed into venues in a decision that health experts say has implications for public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan is moving ahead with staging the multi-billion-dollar Games, which were delayed by a year due to pandemic, despite worries about a resurgence in COVID-19 infections and public opposition.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she was eyeing a cap of 10,000 people per venue. Spectators from overseas have already banned from the event.

Officials are separately considering allowing as many as 20,000 people to attend the opening ceremony on July 23 as spectators, in part due to an expected increase in the number of people involved with the Games who would no longer be allowed on the field, media reported.

A final decision on whether to allow domestic spectators is expected to be made at the meeting on Monday among Tokyo 2020 organizers, the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, Japanese government and Tokyo Metropolitan government.

Some of Japan’s biggest private employers will offer on-site vaccinations for employees starting Monday. The move is designed as a boost for the country’s slow vaccine rollout and to leverage strong workplace culture in companies where some may spend their entire working lives. Workers’ families are also eligible, as are contractors.


Kyrgyzstan on Monday reported 585 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country's total infections to 115,615.

The virus-related death toll hit 1,937 with six new fatalities registered in the past day, while 360 patients recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 105,410, said the Republican Headquarters for Combating COVID-19.


Laos has kicked off the COVID-19 vaccination drive for people aged over 60 with China's Sinopharm vaccine.

The WHO and the Lao Ministry of Health have given the greenlight to vaccinating citizens aged over 60 with the Sinopharm vaccine, as well as those with underlying health conditions, according to a report released by Center of Information and Education for Health under the Lao Ministry of Health on Monday.

Laos reported no new community case of COVID-19 on Monday, according to Lao Ministry of Health.

Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control under Lao Ministry of Health, Phonepaserd Sayamoungkhoun, told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Monday that following 911 tests over the previous 24 hours, the country recorded only one new case of COVID-19, which was an imported case in southern Laos' Savannakhet province.


Malaysia reported another 4,611 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the national total to 701,019, the health ministry said on Monday.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that another 69 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 4,477.

The official added that there is a disturbing rise in the number of sporadic cases and symptomless cases in the Klang Valley area, which encompasses the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and part of the adjacent Selangor state.


Mongolia reported 2,268 new COVID-19 cases during the past 24 hours, taking the country's tally to 95,819, the health ministry said Monday.

A total of 11,295 samples were tested across the country in the past day, and the latest confirmed cases were local infections, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, 11 more deaths and 355 new recoveries from the disease were reported, taking the national counts to 463 and 63,468 respectively.


The COVID-19 cases in Myanmar have increased to 148,022 on Sunday after 407 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Four new deaths from the coronavirus epidemic were reported on Sunday, bringing the COVID-19 related death toll to 3,262 in the Asian country, the release said.


The authorities in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal decided on Sunday to extend the ongoing lockdown by an additional week till June 28 to help curb COVID-19 infections but relax the provisions of the prohibitory order significantly.

"We relax the provisions of lockdown including allowing private vehicles to operate due to decreasing cases of COVID-19," Dhundi Prasad Niraula, chief district officer of the Lalitpur district, told Xinhua.

"If the cases continue to decline even after the operation of private vehicles, we can consider allowing many other public vehicles to operate in addition to taxis," he said.

On Sunday, Nepal reported 1,421 new confirmed cases, a sharp decline from the peak of 9,317 infections logged on May 11.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s medicines regulator Medsafe has provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday.

“After careful consideration of the most up-to-date scientific and medical data available, Medsafe has announced provisional approval for our young people to be given the Pfizer vaccine,” Ardern said in a statement.

There are around 265,000 children in the 12-15 age bracket in New Zealand, she said.

New Zealand reported three cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation and no new cases in the community on Monday.

The three newly imported cases came from Germany, Afghanistan and India and have remained in managed isolation and quarantine facilities in Auckland, according to the Ministry of Health.


Thirty more people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan on Sunday, raising the death toll to 22,007 in the country, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said on Monday.

The country also reported 907 new cases, one of the lowest in a few months, raising the tally of the confirmed cases to 949,175, said the NCOC, the department leading the country's campaign against the pandemic.


Qatar will require full vaccination for fans at the 2022 World Cup, the Associated Press reported, quoting state media.

“Due to the possibility that some countries will not be able to vaccinate all their citizens, Qatar will not allow fans to enter stadiums without receiving a full vaccination against the virus,” Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani was quoted as saying.


Singaporean authorities found 13 new coronavirus cases locally, as the government widened mandatory testing in a large neighborhood outside the city center where a cluster has been expanding since mid-June.

More residents and housing blocks in the Redhill neighborhood will have to get tested as viral fragments were found in waste water samples collected from the area, the Health Ministry said, raising concerns of an undetected spread. The move comes as five out of the 13 cases on Monday were untraceable, government data showed.

Singapore has been pursuing a strategy of ringfencing clusters with aggressive testing as the authorities remain cautious over the loosening of restrictions. The government has said vaccination rates are still not high enough to warrant a faster reopening in Singapore, although it has achieved a key threshold of inoculating more than half of its population with a first dose.

The cluster that emerged from the market and food center in the Redhill area is now the largest in Singapore with 73 infections, according to data on Sunday. The government said on Friday that about half of the people found to be infected at the time were not vaccinated.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan authorities on Monday temporarily lifted a nationwide travel restriction which was imposed in May to allow essential work of people.

Army Commander and Head of the National Operations Center for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak Gen. Shavendra Silva told Xinhua that the country-wide travel restriction was lifted for three days from Monday to allow the public to leave their homes for essential work.

However, he said only two people from every house were allowed to leave home for essential work while private and state-owned companies were urged to operate on very minimum staff.

An 11-year-old lion infected with the COVID-19 at the Dehiwala Zoo in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo has been recovering well, wildlife officials said on Sunday.

According to the Department of National Zoological Gardens, the lion named "Thor" tested positive for the COVID-19 infection after being ill for nearly three days last week.

South Korea

South Korea's SK bioscience said on Monday it plans to expand vaccine production by investing about 150 billion won (US$132 million) by 2024 to add production capacity, as well as equipping its plant to make newer mRNA and viral vector vaccines.

The vaccine maker said in a statement it has signed an agreement with the government of North Gyeongsang Province and the city of Andong, about 190 km southeast of Seoul, to expand its plant there and buy new land.

SK bioscience said it plans to add some 99,130 square metres of additional production space in the area.

Its Andong plant produces COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc.

The company said last week the facility had received European Union Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification, enabling SK to export vaccines to Europe.

South Korea reported 357 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 151,506.

The daily caseload was down from 429 in the prior day, falling below 400 for the first time in six days due to fewer virus tests over the weekend. The daily average caseload for the past week was 462.

Two more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 2,004. The total fatality rate stood at 1.32 percent.

ALSO READ: Worst virus surge in SE Asia hammers Philippine hospitals

People receive COVID-19 jabs at a vaccination site at Japan Bangkok Youth Center in Bangkok, Thailand, June 14, 2021. (SAKCHAI LALIT / AP)


Thailand's Chulabhorn Royal Academy will allocate an initial batch of the Sinopharm vaccines to prioritized organizations, the academy's Secretary General Nithi Mahanonda said on Monday.

Nithi confirmed that the Chulabhorn Royal Academy has planned to allocate this batch of COVID-19 vaccines, which arrived in Thailand on Sunday, to medical, educational and charity organizations ahead of others, which have already booked it.

Restrictions over COVID-19 will be further eased in the Thai capital of Bangkok beginning next week, local authorities said Sunday.

From Monday, convenience stores in Bangkok, which previously were allowed to open between 11 pm and 4 am, will be able to open around the clock, while swimming pools, science parks, art and cultural exhibition centers as well as libraries and stadiums will be allowed to reopen, according to a statement issued by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

Thailand reported 3,175 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, marking the fifth consecutive day recording over 3,000 coronavirus infections as it was gradually easing restrictions for economic recovery.

With the new infections, the number of cumulative cases in Thailand rose to 221,306, with over 85 percent of them recorded since April 1 when the third wave of the pandemic hit and quickly spread across the country.

An additional 29 deaths from COVID-19 were recorded on Monday, taking the total fatalities to 1,658, according to the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration.

The Philippines

The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday 5,249 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,364,239.

The death toll climbed to 23,749 after 128 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

The Philippines, which has more than 110 million population, has tested more than 13 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.

The Philippines has detected four additional cases of the more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant first found in India, bringing the total cases in the country to 17, the DOH said on Monday.


Dubai Airport, the world’s largest by international passenger numbers, expects to recover as much as 90 percent of its pre-pandemic capacity by autumn and will reopen a terminal as demand picks up.

Air travel will get a boost as countries start to remove restrictions, while an upcoming holiday in the Middle East and Expo 2020 Dubai, which begins in October, will also help shore up demand, Dubai Airports Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Sunday.

The airport plans to reopen a terminal and concourse that were shut in March 2020, and will add 3,500 jobs to meet growing demand.


Vietnam reported 272 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, including 267 locally transmitted and five imported, raising the total tally to 13,483.

Vietnam's Ministry of Health said on Monday that three more COVID-19 patients with severe underlying conditions died most recently in the country, and that the total number of COVID-19 related deaths has risen to 69.

Vietnam has received a shipment of 500,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by China, the health ministry said on Sunday, as the country is ramping up inoculations to battle against a more widespread outbreak.

The Southeast Asian nation approved China's Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use against COVID-19 in early June.

The vaccines will be used for three groups: Chinese citizens in Vietnam, Vietnamese who have plan to work or study in China and people who live near the borders with China, the health ministry said in a statement.

Vietnam's domestic inoculation programme, which started in March, has so far relied heavily on around 4 million shots of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

Nearly 2.4 million people in Vietnam have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 115,315 have been fully vaccinated, according to official data.

The country of 98 million also received a batch of nearly one million AstraZenca doses of vaccine donated by the Japanese government on June 16.