Published: 11:51, July 17, 2021 | Updated: 18:29, July 17, 2021
Thailand bans gatherings as virus cases, deaths hit record
By Agencies

Hospital workers transport a victim of COVID-19 into the morgue of Thammasat Hospital, in Pathum Thani province just north of Bangkok on July 17, 2021. (LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

SYDNEY / PHNOM PENH / NEW DELHI / JERUSALEM / ULAN BATOR / ISLAMABAD / SEOUL / SINGAPORE / COLOMBO / BANGKOK / MANILA / ANKARA - Thailand banned gatherings nationwide and may implement further restrictions as the country saw daily coronavirus cases and deaths surge to fresh records.

The Southeast Asian nation reported 10,082 new infections on Saturday, exceeding 10,000 for the first time, despite the imposition of lockdown-like restrictions since Monday. There were 141 deaths, data from the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration show.

The ban on public gatherings will take effect immediately, according to a Royal Gazette announcement published late Friday. Anyone found in violation of the order faces two years in prison or a 40,000 baht (US$1,200) fine or both.

Thai officials are grappling with a wave of infections stemming from the highly contagious delta variant. A virus management panel headed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha is considering shuttering more types of businesses after people violated earlier bans on inter-provincial travel, gatherings of more than five people and an overnight curfew.


The Australian city of Sydney on Saturday ordered a shutdown of building sites, banned non-essential retail and threatened fines for employers who make staff come into the office as new COVID-19 cases kept rising three weeks into a citywide lockdown.

Authorities in New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, also banned hundreds of thousands of people in the city's western suburbs - the worst affected area - from leaving their immediate neighbourhoods for work, as they recorded 111 new cases in the prior 24 hours, up from 97 the day before.

The state also recorded an additional death from the virus, taking the total to three since the start of the year and the national total to 913 since the pandemic began.

"I can't remember a time when our state has been challenged to such an extent," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a televised news conference.

The city of 5 million people, Australia's largest, has been under lockdown since June 26, with a planned end date of July 30, after an airport transit driver brought the virus into the community and sparked an outbreak of the highly infectious variant, according to the authorities.

More than 1,000 people in the city and surrounding districts have since tested positive. Of most concern to health leaders is the number of infectious people who were active in the community before they tested positive, with 29 reported on Saturday, in line with previous days.

"We are chasing our tail in terms of the cases," state Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said at the news conference.

A health worker takes a swab sample from a resident at a COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic in Sydney's Fairfield suburb on July 14, 2021. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)

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Cambodia on Saturday confirmed 836 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the national total caseload to 66,336, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said in a statement.

The new infections included 557 local cases and 279 imported ones, the ministry said.

Twenty-four more fatalities were recorded, taking the death toll to 1,076, it said, adding that 928 other patients recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 57,955.


India's federal government Friday said there was a need to take precautions against the third wave of COVID-19 that is likely to break out in the country and the next 100 to 125 days are crucial.

The warning was given by VK Paul, a member (health) of government think-tank National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog (commission) during a media briefing in New Delhi.

"Our population is still vulnerable ... The next 100 to 125 days will be crucial and we all need to remain vigilant and follow the protocol," he said.

Paul said the warning about the third wave of the COVID-19 which the World Health Organization has recently issued is for the global situation, which is reflecting the impact.

On Thursday, head of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases at India's top health research body - Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Samiran Panda said the third wave of COVID-19 is likely to hit the country at the end of August.

Panda, however, said there are chances that the third wave will be a mild one and not as intense as the second wave.

India's COVID-19 tally rose to 31,064,908 on Saturday, as 38,079 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, according to the federal health ministry's latest data.

Besides, 560 deaths due to the pandemic have been reported since Friday morning, took the total death toll to 413,091.


Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo urged for a “sense of crisis” among his ministers as the country becomes one of the worst hotspots in the world.

Jokowi, as the president is known, called off a paid vaccination plan and told state officials not to travel overseas after wide public backlash, urging them to exercise “social sensitivity,” Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said in a statement. Only the foreign minister and those given special permission by the president can travel internationally, he added.

Indonesia’s daily COVID-19 cases hit a record 56,757 on Thursday before easing to 54,000 on Friday. Brazil reported more than 45,500 infections on Friday, while US ones are climbing again.

“The president has emphasized that in this period of emergency curbs, surely there must be a sense of crisis throughout all ministries, institutions and leaders,” Anung said.

A medic collects a swab sample from a man at a mobile testing station for COVID-19 coronavirus in Jerusalem on July 14, 2021. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)


Israel's Ministry of Health on Friday decided to forbid Israelis from traveling to Spain and Kyrgyzstan from July 23, citing a high level of COVID-19 morbidity.

The country has already banned its citizens and permanent residents from traveling to Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico, Russia, Belarus, and Uzbekistan unless they can obtain special permission from an exception committee.

In addition, inbound passengers from these countries, including recovered and vaccinated ones, must be placed in an immediate seven-day quarantine.

The ministry has also issued on Friday a severe travel warning to Britain, Cyprus, Turkey, Georgia, Uganda, Myanmar, Fiji, Panama, Cambodia, Kenya and Liberia, which will also take effect on July 23. Prior to the announcement, Israel has issued severe travel warnings to 15 countries.


Mongolia has registered 1,295 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the nationwide tally to 145,787, the country's health ministry said Saturday.

Three of the latest confirmed cases were imported from abroad, and the remaining ones were local infections, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, 10 more people have died from the virus, raising the national death toll to 753, it added.


Pakistan confirmed 2,783 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said on Saturday.

The NCOC, a department leading Pakistan's campaign against the pandemic, said that the country's number of overall cases rose to 986,668, amidst the fear of a challenging fourth wave due to the fast spread of the Delta variant of the virus.

A total of 22,760 people died of the disease, including 39 patients who died over the last 24 hours, the NCOC said, adding that 2,508 are in critical condition.


Singapore will donate excess COVID-19 vaccines under the Covax initiative as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged countries with advanced inoculation programs to do the same.

Lee didn’t specify when the donations will be made or the amount of doses it will share. He was speaking at an online gathering of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders on Friday. He also called for cooperation to prepare for the next pandemic.

“COVID-19 will not be the last, nor the most serious pandemic the world will face,” Lee said. “We need a more agile global governance and financing mechanism that can swiftly plug gaps in global health security.”

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 61 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total tally in the country to 62,913.

The new infections included 53 locally transmitted cases, of which 32 belonged to the emerging KTV cluster.

Of the new local cases, 24 were linked to previous cases and have already been placed on quarantine, while 24 are linked to previous cases and were detected through surveillance. Five were currently unlinked.

There were eight imported cases, who have already been placed on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or isolated upon arrival in Singapore. Two were detected upon arrival in Singapore, while six developed the illness during SHN or isolation.

South Korea

South Korea reported 1,455 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Friday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 176,500.

The daily caseload was slightly down from 1,536 in the previous day, but it stayed above 1,000 for the 11th straight day. The daily average caseload for the past week was 1,397.

Four more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 2,055. The total fatality rate stood at 1.16 percent.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) on Friday approved China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the country.

Accordingly, all COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) can now be used in Sri Lanka, State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana said.

Local media reports said that on June 1, the WHO validated the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving countries, funders, procuring agencies, and communities the assurance that it meets international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing.

The Philippines

China delivered an additional batch of Sinovac CoronaVac vaccines to the Philippines on Saturday morning to support the Southeast Asian country's campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fresh shipment of CoronaVac vaccines procured by Philippine government from China's Sinovac Biotech arrived at the airport in Manila around 8:00 am local time.

The Philippines has reported a total of 1,496,328 confirmed cases as of Friday, including 26,476 deaths.

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Turkey on Friday registered 6,918 new COVID-19 cases, raising its tally of infections to 5,514,373, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 35 to 50,450, while 5,084 more people recovered in the last 24 hours.

A total of 229,582 tests were conducted over the past day, it said.

Turkey has started mass COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 14 after the authorities approved the emergency use of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.