Published: 10:12, July 15, 2021 | Updated: 23:03, July 15, 2021
Indonesia readies for 'worst-case scenario' as new cases hit record
By Agencies

Health workers in protective suits spray disinfectant after carrying the body of a COVID-19 victim in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, on July 15, 2021. (FIRDIA LISNAWATI / AP)

SUVA / DHAKA / BANGKOK / TOKYO / KUALA LUMPUR / COLOMBO / YANGON / SEOUL / DELHI / HANOI – Indonesia on Thursday recorded 56,757 new cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily spike, bringing the tally to 2,726,803, the health ministry said.

Another 982 deaths were reported in the same period, bringing the death toll to 70,192.

Senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said daily COVID-19 cases could still climb as the Delta variant, first identified in India, has a two- to three- week incubation period

In a streamed news conference, senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said daily COVID-19 cases could still climb as the Delta variant, first identified in India, has a two- to three- week incubation period.

Pandjaitan said the government was preparing for the worst-case scenario of 60,000 to 100,000 daily cases.

"We're already in our worst-case scenario," Luhut said. "If we're talking about 60,000 (cases a day) or slightly more than that, we're okay. We are hoping not for 100,000, but even if we get there, we are preparing for that," he added.

The government has converted buildings into isolation facilities, deployed fresh graduate doctors and nurses to treat COVID-19 patients and imported oxygen and drugs, he said.

Indonesia is speeding up vaccination to reach herd immunity as the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus continued to tear through the country.

Vaccination rate in the capital Jakarta, the local virus hotspot, is reaching 70 percent and its curve of new cases have begun to flatten, Luhut said.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Food and Drug Authority (BPOM) has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine amid a spike in cases as the more contagious Delta variant has entered the country, an official said on Thursday.

BPOM has also authorized the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin for emergency use against COVID-19, a health ministry official told Reuters. 


India added 41,806 COVID-19 cases Thursday, taking the total tally up to almost 31 million in the second-worst-hit nation. 

\The country has administered 391.3 million vaccine doses as the government races to avert a possible third wave, but only 5.6 percent of the population is fully inoculated against the virus, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. 

COVID-related deaths rose by 581 in a day to 411,989, the latest data from India’s health ministry show.

Chief Minister of New Delhi said Thursday schools across the Indian capital city will not reopen given the current trends of COVID-19 that point toward a possible third wave of the pandemic.

Kejriwal said his government would not want to take any risk until the vaccination process against COVID-19 disease is completed.

India's new Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya Wednesday slammed states for flagging shortage of COVID-19 vaccine supplies, saying such statements were not based on facts and intend to create panic among the people.


Malaysia is looking into easing restrictions for people who have been fully inoculated, including allowing them to travel or dine at restaurants, the Star newspaper reported, citing Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

“I’ve asked for relaxation to be considered for those who have received two doses. This will show that while we battle with COVID-19, we can gradually return to normal life,” Muhyiddin was quoted as saying.

Malaysia reported 13,215 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a record for a third straight day, bringing the cumulative tally to 880,782.

The death toll rose by 110 to 6,613.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said new variants, including the Delta variant, were partly responsible for the surge, as they were more infectious and able to be transmitted more quickly compared to previous strains.

Meanwhile, he said investigations were ongoing regarding an outbreak of COVID-19 among workers at a vaccination center in Selangor state, as authorities worked to trace the source of the infections.

Some 204 health workers at the center located in Selangor state capital Shah Alam had tested positive following a mass screening. However, most had been vaccinated and found to be asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, according to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

Middle East

A surge of coronavirus cases in several Middle Eastern countries could have dire consequences, aggravated by the spread of the Delta variant and low vaccine availability, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

After a decline in cases and deaths in the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean region for eight weeks, the agency said there had been significant increases in cases in Libya, Iran, Iraq and Tunisia, with sharp rises expected in Lebanon and Morocco.

Next week countries across the region will mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, which traditionally includes religious and social gatherings where infections could spread.

"WHO is concerned that the current COVID-19 upsurge may continue to peak in the coming weeks, with catastrophic consequences," the agency's regional office said in a statement.


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday that Israel could beat the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant without imposing more lockdowns.

In a televised press conference, Bennett said that halting the quickly spreading Delta variant depends on people wearing masks and keeping social distance, in addition to leveling up the nationwide inoculation rollout.

The prime minister said the police were instructed to boost the enforcement of the obligatory mask-wearing in close spaces. He warned that high fines will be imposed on those who violate the requirement.

Bennett said that nationwide lockdowns would be "the last resort," amid the government's efforts not to harm the local economy more.

He urged Israelis who haven't received the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated, saying the vaccines "reduce infections and the severity of the disease in those who were infected."


Thailand reported on Thursday a daily record of 98 coronavirus deaths, taking total fatalities to 3,032 since the pandemic began last year.

The country's COVID-19 task force also reported 9,186 new coronavirus cases, bringing total infections to 372,215.

AstraZeneca has asked Thailand to extend the timeline for the delivery of 61 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by five months, a deputy minister said on Thursday, a move likely to disrupt further the country's sluggish vaccine rollout.

Deputy Health Minister Sathit Pitutacha said AstraZeneca currently had the capacity to produce 15 million doses of vaccine per month at its production facility in Thailand and that capacity could expand in the future.

The company has promised to deliver 40 percent of what is produced to Thailand, the deputy health minister said, adding that Thailand will ask the company for more doses.

South Korea

South Korea is sending a medical team to the Middle East to tackle a coronavirus outbreak on one of its ships on anti-piracy patrol while at home, new daily infections are hovering around record levels with 1,600 reported on Thursday.

The outbreak on the South Korean destroyer with some 300 service members on board operating in the Gulf of Aden is another headache for the administration of President Moon Jae-in.

Moon has ordered medical experts with emergency equipment to fly to the region to contain the outbreak and get patients out if they have to, said presidential spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee.

The Yonhap news agency, citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported that six service members had tested positive for the coronavirus, while some 80 had developed some symptoms.

The defense ministry said none on board the destroyer had been vaccinated as the unit had left in February, before the vaccination campaign began for military personnel.

South Korea has recorded 173,511 coronavirus cases and 2,050 deaths since the pandemic began, data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) showed.

Only 30.8 percent of its 52 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 12 percent have been fully vaccinated.

ALSO READ: Tokyo sees most daily virus cases in 6 months as Olympics loom


New coronavirus virus cases hit a six-month high in Tokyo, a worrying sign just a little more than a week before the city hosts the Olympics.

Cases in the capital tallied 1,308 on Thursday, the most since January, when the capital was experiencing its worst wave of infections, hitting a daily record of 2,520 new cases.

Nationwide, 3,347 new COVID-19 cases were reported as of 6 pm local time on Thursday.

Japan’s health ministry is set to approve Moderna Inc’s vaccine in children as young as 12, NHK reported, citing an unidentified person. The ministry is currently limiting the use to 18-year-olds and above, citing lack of sufficient trial data on younger people.

The ministry has completed examination of data and plans to expand the approval early next week, NHK said. The country Japan already approves the use of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine on those 12 and older.

People wearing masks alight from a tram in Melbourne on May 26, 2021, as Australia's 2nd biggest city scrambles to contain a growing COVID-19 outbreak. (PHOTO / AFP)


Melbourne will enter a snap five-day lockdown from midnight, joining Sydney in imposing stay-at-home restrictions as the delta strain of the coronavirus spreads around Southeast Australia, the nation’s most populated region.

Australia’s second-largest city, along with the rest of Victoria state, will lock down for the fifth time since the pandemic began, Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Thursday. His state has recorded 18 covid cases since the virus was again seeded there after infected Sydney-based removalists delivered furniture to a home in Melbourne, which last year endured one of the world’s longest and most strict lockdowns.

“We must do this,” Andrews said. “You only get one chance to go hard and go fast. If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier.”

Australia’s tardy vaccine roll-out -- one of the slowest among the 38 OECD nations -- has made the country particularly vulnerable to the delta variant, which has increasingly leaked out of the quarantine system for overseas arrivals. While economies such as the UK and US are opening up, Australia’s international borders remain largely closed, and comparatively small clusters of the coronavirus make even domestic travel difficult as states and territories pull up the drawbridge.

Sydney on Wednesday extended its lockdown until at least July 30. By that time, it will have been isolated from the rest of the nation for five weeks. The nation’s most-populous city has recorded more than 900 infections, including 65 on Thursday, after delta spread from an un-vaccinated chauffeur who was infected while transporting airline crew last month.


Kuwait registered on Wednesday 1,623 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total infections in the country to 380,699, the Kuwaiti Health Ministry said.

The ministry also announced 11 more fatalities, taking the death toll from the virus in Kuwait to 2,158, while the tally of recoveries rose by 1,721 to 360,746.

A total of 17,795 COVID-19 patients were receiving treatment, including 336 in the intensive care units, it said. 


Iraq reported on Wednesday 9,635 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily record since the outbreak of the pandemic, raising the nationwide caseload to 1,457,192, the Iraqi Health Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also confirmed 47 more deaths, bringing the death toll from the virus to 17,677, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 5,813 to 1,326,073.

"If the rise in infections continues, we will take the most strict measures, including imposing a full curfew and closing borders to stop the spread of COVID-19," the ministry said in a separate statement.


The number of COVID-19 cases in Myanmar increased to 212,545 on Thursday after 4,188 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

A total of 165 additional deaths were also reported, bringing the death toll to 4,346,  according to the release.

The State Administration Council on Wednesday announced a nine-day public holiday from July 17 to 25 for the prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19.

READ MORE: S. Korea vaccine rollout grinds to a halt as 'new cases hit record'


Bangladesh reported 12,383 new COVID-19 cases and 210 more deaths on Wednesday, making the tally at 1,059,538 and the death toll at 17,052, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.

The official data showed that 42,490 samples were tested in the last 24 hours as of 8:00 am local time Wednesday across Bangladesh.

The total number of recovered patients in the country stood at 897,412 including 8,245 new recoveries, said the DGHS.

According to the official data, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh is 1.61 percent and the current recovery rate stands at 84.70 percent.


Fiji reported 1,220 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry's permanent secretary, James Fong, said five more COVID-19 deaths were recorded from July 10 to July 13.

In total, there had been 74 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 72 of them recorded during the latest outbreak starting in April this year.

A total of 13,886 cases have been reported so far, 13,816 of which were reported since the latest outbreak.

As of Wednesday, 377,090 adults in Fiji have received their first dose of a vaccine and 73,127 have received both doses. This means that 64 percent of the target population have received at least one dose and 12.5 percent are now fully vaccinated nationwide. 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s daily coronavirus vaccination rate has accelerated to more than 400,000 ahead of a deadline that would ban those without at least one dose from entry to most places except homes.

From Aug 1, vaccination will be required to enter any government or private entities, educational facilities and any economic, commercial, cultural, entertainment or sporting activity, including malls, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The number of doses administered has jumped as that date looms. Long lines were visible this week in the capital Riyadh at clinics administering vaccines, although the decision making them mandatory for many activities has drawn complaints from some Saudis.

Authorities have also made full vaccination mandatory to participate in the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj next week, and have resumed administering second shots after a monthslong halt to cover a wider percentage of the population with first dose.

Despite administering over 21 million doses so far, Saudi Arabia’s fully vaccinated rate still lags behind some of its smaller Gulf neighbors. About 8.4 percent of the population has received two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines in the kingdom.

The Philippines

The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Thursday 5,221 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,490,665.

The death toll climbed to 26,314 as 82 more patients have died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

The country is studying whether to impose travel restrictions on Malaysia and Thailand, which are also battling a surge in Delta variant infections, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

The Philippines has detected 19 Delta variant cases so far from samples taken from returning Filipinos who were immediately isolated upon arrival. Eighteen patients have recovered while one died, the DOH said.

Duque said no community transmission of the Delta variant has been monitored so far.


Kazakhstan has approved the Russian single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine against COVID-19, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the shot abroad and signs manufacturing deals, said on Thursday.

Sri Lanka

Thirty six percent of the population above the age of 30 years in Sri Lanka have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) Director Ranjith Batuwanthudawa was quoted by local media as saying on Thursday.

In the capital Colombo, one of the most affected by the virus, 70 percent of the target population have received their first dose while 25 percent have received both doses, Batuwanthudawa said.

"Considering the other two districts in the Western Province, 66 percent in the Gampaha district were given the first dose while 21 percent have received both the doses," Batuwanthudawa said.


Vietnam reported a new high of 3,416 fresh COVID-19 infections on Thursday, surpassing the previous record of 2,934 cases on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health.

The infections included 3,379 locally transmitted cases and 37 imported ones, bringing the total to 40,850 confirmed cases with 207 deaths, the ministry said.

Of the new local cases, 2,691 were reported in the southern Ho Chi Minh City, 132 in the southern Dong Nai province, and 122 in the southern Binh Duong province.

Nationwide, as many as 9,688 COVID-19 patients have so far recovered, up 64 from Wednesday.