Published: 10:42, July 16, 2021 | Updated: 23:01, July 16, 2021
Indonesia passes Brazil with most new virus cases in world
By Agencies

Soldiers man a roadblock set up during emergency restrictions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, July 15, 2021.(BINSAR BAKKARA / AP)

ISLAMABAD / SYDNEY / DHAKA / PHNOM PENH / NEW DELHI / TEHRAN / JERUSALEM / KUWAIT CITY / KUALA LUMPUR / ULAN BATOR / YANGON / KATHMANDU / SEOUL / BANGKOK / MANILA / ANKARA / CAIRO / MALE / HANOI / BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Indonesia’s daily COVID-19 case count has passed Brazil’s to become the worst in the world, hitting a record 56,757 on Thursday as the highly-contagious delta variant rampages through the nation.

Infections topped 40,000 for five straight days through Friday, a striking increase from less than 10,000 a month ago, and as many as 1,205 people died from the disease in the last 24 hours. The grim tally comes after Indonesia this week surpassed the numbers in India, where daily cases have dropped from a peak of over 400,000 in May. Brazil’s new infections fell below 53,000 on Thursday.

Indonesia - the world’s fourth-most populous country - has reported more than 2.7 million cases and 70,192 deaths overall. The US has the worst numbers as a whole, with nearly 34 million cases and over 608,000 deaths.

ALSO READ: Indonesia readies for 'worst-case scenario' as new cases hit record

Indonesia is speeding up vaccinations, hoping to achieve herd immunity when 70 percent of its population of about 270 million is inoculated. While a record 2.4 million doses were administered Wednesday, Indonesia’s daily average for July has hovered at less than 850,000 shots, below its 1-million target. The government wants to raise that to 2 million in August and then 2.5 million.

Indonesia's religious minister called on Friday for people to pray at home during next week's Islamic holiday to avoid the risk of spreading the coronavirus, as some regions complained of a lack of supplies of COVID-19 vaccines.


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that the country was "very much on agenda" in charting out the COVID-19 pandemic through the four-step plan set at the start of July despite recent outbreaks.

Under the plan, vaccinated Australians would slowly be given greater freedoms.

He announced that a new record of some 175,000 vaccine doses were administered on Thursday.

"In the space of just three days, half a million doses of the vaccine had been administered across the country," Morrison said. "That means that already this month there have been just shy of two million vaccines."

As of Friday, millions of Australians in Victoria, including Melbourne, and Greater Sydney were in lockdown amid outbreaks of coronavirus. Morrison said he supported the lockdowns of Australia's two biggest cities.

Despite Sydney heading into its fourth week of lockdown, New South Wales officials recorded 97 new locally acquired cases, up from 65 on Thursday.

Total infections since the first was detected in mid-June now stand at more than 1,000.

Most concerning for health officials, 29 of those cases were people who spent time in the community while infectious, a situation that New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant described as "incredibly concerning".


Bangladesh reported 12,236 new COVID-19 cases and 226 new deaths on Thursday, making the tally at 1,071,774 and death toll at 17,278, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.

The official data showed that 44,941 samples were tested in the last 24 hours as of 8:00 a.m. local time Thursday across Bangladesh.


Brunei reported one newly confirmed COVID-19 case on Friday, bringing the national tally to 283, according to the Ministry of Health.

The Sultanate also reported two recoveries on Friday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 260. 

The ministry said that as of Thursday, 106,086 individuals had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for about 23.4 percent of Brunei's total population


Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Friday told parents and legal guardians of adolescents aged from 12 to 17 years old to get them ready for COVID-19 vaccinations.

In an audio message released publicly, the prime minister said there are around 2 million adolescents in the Southeast Asian nation.

Cambodia reported 889 new COVID-19 infections including 207 imported cases on Friday, pushing the national total caseload to 65,500, the health ministry said, adding that 27 new fatalities were recorded, taking the overall death toll to 1,052.

A health worker inoculates a woman with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against COVID-19 during a vaccination drive at an Hindu temple on the outskirts of in Hyderabad on July 15, 2021. (NOAH SEELAM / AFP


The Indian government has ordered 660 million vaccine doses for August-December, its largest procurement, local news reports said on Friday, as state authorities and health experts warned that shortages could leave millions vulnerable if coronavirus infections surge again.

The federal government aims to inoculate all of the country's estimated 944 million adults by December, a target health experts have said is ambitious, as only 8 percent of that number is currently vaccinated with the mandatory two doses.

Several states have reported vaccine shortages, with many inoculation centres shut and people having to wait for long hours at others for their shot.

The government has now ordered 375 million more doses of AstraZeneca's locally produced Covishield and 285 million doses of Bharat Biotech's homegrown Covaxin, the Economic Times newspaper reported, citing sources.

India's COVID-19 tally rose to 31,026,829 on Friday as 38,949 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, showed the federal health ministry's latest data.

Another 542 deaths were recorded since Thursday morning, taking the total death toll to 412,531.

There are still 430,422 active cases in the country, down 1,619 during the past 24 hours.

A total of 30,183,876 people have recovered and been discharged from hospitals so far, out of which 40,026 were discharged during the past 24 hours. 


Iran reported on Thursday 23,655 new COVID-19 cases, a new daily record in the past three months, taking the country's total infections to 3,464,055.

The pandemic has so far claimed 86,592 lives in Iran, up by 201 in the past 24 hours, the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education said in a briefing published on its official website.


Israel's Ministry of Health reported 868 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total tally in the country to 849,190.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases in Israel increased to 5,552, the highest since April 3.

The death toll from the virus in Israel rose by two to 6,443, while the number of patients in serious condition increased from 52 to 54.


Kuwait will vaccinate teenagers aged 12 to 15 against COVID-19 next week, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health announced on Thursday.

Teenagers of this age group will receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before the start of the new academic year in September, the ministry' Abdullah Al-Sanad said in a press statement.

Kuwait reported 1,385 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking the tally of inflections to 382,084, while the death toll rose by 16 to 2,174.


Malaysia’s health ministry said on Friday it has granted conditional approval for emergency use to the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinopharm.

The Sinopharm vaccine in Malaysia was registered by pharmaceutical company Duopharma Sdn Bhd, Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.

Authorities have also granted conditional approval to the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine made by US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and manufactured in Belgium, Noor Hisham said.

Malaysia will soon allow the commercial sale of vaccines manufactured by Sinopharm and Sinovac, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

The Sinopharm vaccine would soon be open for private purchase, Khairy said. Meanwhile, Sinovac vaccines would be available commercially from Aug 1, after it has completed the delivery of some 15 million doses procured by the government, he said.

Malaysia had previously said it would stop administering Sinovac vaccines after supplies run out. 

Khairy clarified on Friday that surplus Sinovac shots would remain available for those who may have allergy concerns with other vaccines.

"There is no issue over Sinovac's efficacy," he said.

Malaysia would also consider purchasing more doses from Sinovac in the event of a shortfall of AstraZeneca vaccines from neighboring Thailand, Khairy said, adding that Malaysia would seek assurances from Thailand that there would be no disruptions to supply.

Malaysia on Friday reported 12,541 new coronavirus cases and 115 more deaths, bringing total infections to 893,323, including 6,728 deaths.


The Maldives has vaccinated half of its eligible population against COVID-19, local media reported Friday.

Half of the population above the age of 18 has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, spokesperson for the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC), Fathimath Nazla Rafeeq, was quoted in the state-owned PSM News as saying.

Data from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed that 320,059 people have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 251,232 people have received both doses.


The COVID-19 cases in Mongolia rose by 1,364 in the last 24 hours to 144,492, the country's health ministry reported on Friday.

The ministry said that nine more deaths and 3,730 more recoveries were recorded, bringing the national counts to 743 and 121,953, respectively.


Myanmar will receive 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from China by August, according to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

A senior official from Myanmar's information industry told the agency on Wednesday that the government has bought four million doses of the vaccine from China, which will also donate two million more.

The first 1 million doses will arrive late July, the official added.

Around 1.75 million individuals have so far been vaccinated in Myanmar, which has a population of some 54 million, according to health officials.

Workers unload boxes containing doses of US Johnson and Johnson vaccines against the coronavirus donated by the United States at the Sukraraj tropical hospital vaccine storage cold room in Kathmandu, Nepal, on July 12, 2021. (PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP)


The authorities in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley on Thursday decided to continue the ongoing lockdown till July 25 to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, but with further relaxation in the provisions of the prohibitory orders.

The last round of lockdown expires on Thursday midnight local time and the three districts in the valley decided to extend it by another 10 days starting from Friday.

"We decided to extend the lockdown as the COVID-19 cases have not come down drastically," Kali Prasad Parajuli, chief district officer of Kathmandu, told Xinhua. The Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts in the valley issued the same prohibitory orders.

As per the new notice, shops can open one more hour till 7 pm from Friday.

Likewise, rules are eased as well for vehicles entering the valley for emergency purposes, with travelers not asked to produce recommendation letters by local administrations any more, which are mandatory till Thursday midnight.

A health worker inoculates a student with a dose of the CanSino Biologics' COVID-19 vaccine at Jamia Naeemia seminary in Lahore, Pakistan, on July 12, 2021. (ARIF ALI / AFP)


National positivity rate of COVID-19 in Pakistan has risen to over six percent in Pakistan, raising a serious concern of a fourth wave in the country, according to the data released by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Friday.

A total of 2,327 people tested positive of the disease on Thursday, raising the tally of infections to 983,719, the NCOC, the country's nerve center against the disease, said in a statement.

A total of 22,720 people died of the disease, including 31 patients who died over the last 24 hours, the NCOC said, adding that critical 2,388 patients are currently under treatment in 639 hospitals across the country.


Singapore will temporarily close hundreds of nightlife venues and re-enforce stricter measures for dining-in just days after relaxing them, as a jump in daily COVID-19 cases linked to karaoke outlets deals a setback to the city’s efforts to reopen.

The country will impose different restrictions on the local population based on their vaccination status, according to details released at a multi-ministry task force briefing on Friday, while ministers warned that further restrictions may be necessary if daily cases continue to rise.

“This is a major setback in our journey to recovery and I understand many Singaporeans will be disappointed, and so are we. We must respond to this emerging cluster quickly, especially to protect those who have not yet been vaccinated completely,” said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong.

A cluster of infections tied to karaoke lounges - which were closed at the start of the pandemic and later reopened as food and beverage outlets - pushed daily virus case numbers in the community to a 15-month high earlier this week. On Friday 53 new cases were reported, 32 of which are linked to the lounges.

The health ministry said in a statement Friday that while the new cluster will delay reopening plans, the vaccination progress puts it in a strong position to reopen once the situation is contained. 

More than 50 percent of the population is expected to be fully vaccinated next week, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said.

Individuals will only be allowed to dine-in at restaurants in groups of two from July 19 through to Aug 8, although those who are fully vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19 can continue to dine in a group of five.

South Korea

South Korea reported 1,536 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Thursday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 175,046.

The daily caseload was down from 1,599 in the prior day, but it marked the third-highest reading since the country's first case was found in January last year.

The daily number hovered above 1,000 for the 10th consecutive day. The daily average caseload for the past week rose to 1,386.

One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 2,051. The total fatality rate stood at 1.17 percent.


Thailand plans to further tighten distancing rules as the current measures failed to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus, with daily cases hitting a new high on Friday.

The Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) reported a new daily record of 9,692 new COVID-19 cases and 67 more deaths on Friday, taking the tally to 381,907 confirmed cases with 3,099 fatalities.

Five days after the semi-lockdown measures were put into effect in Thailand's worst-affected provinces, the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise sharply. Tougher measures such as the closure of more businesses and public mobility restrictions have been planned to tackle the current situation, CCSA spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangsan said at a daily briefing.

The government also plans to increase the number of COVID-19 tests which currently cover 70,000-80,000 people per day by introducing home-testing kits which will be available from drugstores next week, Apisamai said.

Thailand is now facing a threat of a more contagious Delta variant while lagging behind in the vaccination rollout. As of Thursday, less than five percent of its 70 million population is fully vaccinated in the country's plan to inoculate 70 percent of its population by the end of this year.

The Thai Red Cross on Friday said it had bought 1 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines from the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO).

The Philippines

The Philippines has detected its first locally acquired cases of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant, the health ministry said on Friday.

Of the 16 new COVID-19 cases with the Delta variant, 11 were tagged as locally acquired cases, health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a news conference.


Turkey on Thursday registered 7,304 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total tally to 5,507,455, said the Turkish Health Ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 48 to 50,415, while 5,103 people recovered in the last 24 hours, the ministry said.

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


The United Arab Emirate's Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee announced on Thursday a partial lockdown and new entry requirements in the emirate starting July 19, from midnight until 5 am, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants, the media office reported in a tweet.

The Committee said: "National Sterilisation Programme in the Emirate has been launched ... the movement of traffic and the public will be restricted and there will be no transportation services and the public must stay at home except for emergencies and getting essential supplies".


Vietnam reported 3,336 new COVID-19 infections for the second straight day on Friday as the country battles its largest and most difficult outbreak yet, the health ministry said.

The Southeast Asia country also registered an additional 18 deaths from July 8-14, raising its total death toll due to COVID-19 to 225. Those deaths had initially not been reported due to technical errors, the health ministry said.

Vietnam's health minister said the virus was spreading more rapidly.

The Vietnamese government asked local authorities in a statement to call on citizens to avoid going out unless necessary.

Also on Friday, Vietnam jailed a man for 18 months for breaking strict COVID-19 quarantine rules, spreading the virus to others and causing financial damage to authorities, state media reported.