Published: 09:34, July 19, 2022 | Updated: 17:47, July 19, 2022
Australia provisionally approves Moderna's shot for those below 5
By Agencies

This photo shows a view of vials of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, at the Assad Iben El Fourat school in Oued Ellil, outside Tunis on Aug 15, 2021. (HASSENE DRIDI / AP)

COLOMBO / SYDNEY / HANOI / BANGKOK / MANILA / SINGAPORE / TOKYO / JAKARTA / KUALA LUMPUR / SEOUL / WELLINGTON / SUVA / NEW DELHI / CANBERRA - Moderna Inc said late on Monday Australia's drug regulator Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax, for use in children aged six months to five years.

So far, the shot was provisionally approved in the country for individuals aged six years and older and as a booster dose for those aged 18 years and older, TGA said in a separate statement.

In another development, authorities and schools in some Australian states have urged students and staff to wear masks as schools reopen amid increasing COVID-19 community transmissions.

Although the government of the state of Victoria has rejected the notion of reapplying mandatory mask, the Department of Education and Training Victoria issued a letter, urging students aged eight and over and all staff in schools to wear masks when in class from now to the end of winter.

"The action will help make sure as many students and staff as possible are protected from COVID and other winter illnesses," read the letter issued on Monday.

Staff check a client at a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia on Jan 8, 2022. (MARK BAKER / AP)

Australia's health minister has said that the "real number" of COVID-19 cases in the country is likely to double that which is being reported daily.

Mark Butler on Tuesday warned the third wave of Omicron variant infections that Australia is currently experiencing is "very significant," with hospitalizations soaring.

"There were 300,000 cases or thereabouts reported over the last seven days, and I think the chief medical officer and I are pretty confident that the real number is likely to be more than double that," he told reporters.

"We are seeing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Australians infected every single week in this wave."

Australia on Tuesday reported more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 70 deaths.


Fiji has recorded 268 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death over the past few days, bringing the death toll in the island nation to 870.

An 82-year-old man in Suva, capital of Fiji, died on Monday from respiratory distress caused by COVID-19, according to the Fijivillage news website on Tuesday.

Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Health James Fong said although the man was three dose vaccinated, he had multiple pre-existing medical conditions which worsened his COVID-19 state.

Of the 268 new cases recorded since last Friday, 129 cases were reported in the central part of Fiji, 122 cases in the western part and 17 cases in the northern part.

Meanwhile, as of Monday, 149,998 people have received their first booster doses, or 48 percent of the target population, while 13,540 people have received their second boosters.


India's daily COVID-19 caseload remained below 20,000 for the second straight day on Tuesday, days after showing an upward trend, officials said.

According to federal health ministry data released on Tuesday morning, 15,528 new cases of COVID-19 were reported during the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 4,37,83,062 in the country.

The cases reported on Tuesday mark a decrease in comparison to Monday's caseload of 16,935.

With this, India's active caseload currently stands at 143,654.

The country also logged 25 related deaths during this period, which has pushed the overall death toll to 525,785 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.

With the decrease in cases, the daily positivity rate has come down to 3.32 percent and the weekly positivity rate was recorded 4.57 percent, the ministry data showed.


Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) has issued an emergency use authorization for Paxlovid as a treatment to reduce the severity and mortality in COVID-19 patients.

"Paxlovid is approved to treat adult coronavirus patients who do not require supplemental oxygen and are at high risk for severe COVID-19," Head of BPOM Penny K. Lukito said in a press release.

Phase II and III clinical trials showed that Paxlovid could reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in severe COVID-19 adult patients with comorbidity who were not hospitalized.

The study also showed that Paxlovid is safe with mild to moderate side effects such as taste disorder, diarrhea, headache and vomiting.

Paxlovid, developed and manufactured by the US company Pfizer, adds to the list of treatment drugs approved by BPOM to five, including the antivirals Favipiravir and Remdesivir (2020), the monoclonal antibody Regdanvimab (2021) and Molnupiravir (2022).


Japan's Shionogi & Co Ltd said on Tuesday it started a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate among children aged 5 to 11.

The phase I/II/III clinical trial of the recombinant protein-based vaccine known as S-268019 will be carried out among 48 children in Japan, the company said in a release.

The vaccine has not yet been approved by Japanese regulators for use among adults.

People walk with their luggage towards Malaysia, as seen from Sungai Kolok district in southern Thailand's Narathiwat province on June 1, 2022, after Malaysia and Thailand re-opened their land borders following the loosening of restrictions related to the coronavirus. (MADAREE TOHLALA / AFP)


Malaysian airline AirAsia has announced that it would recommence flights to several Australian capital cities and New Zealand later this year for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

AirAsia X, which is the long-haul arm of the budget airline, will fly from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne and Perth from Nov 1.

The airline, which has already restarted flights from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney, will also offer flights from New Zealand's capital city to Auckland from November.

There will initially be three flights a week to each capital city before gradually adding more flights to the schedule in early 2023.

The resumption of flights to Melbourne Airport will be the first time in almost four years, with AirAsia X having used a regional Victorian airport from 2018 to 2020.

Meanwhile, Malaysia reported 3,080 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Monday, bringing the national total to 4,626,061, according to the Health Ministry.

There is one new imported case, with 3,079 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

Seven new deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 35,862.

New Zealand

New Zealand reported two community cases of Omicron BA.2.75 on Tuesday, the first time this subvariant has been detected in the country.

Both cases are linked to known imported cases and are isolating at home, said the Ministry of Health.

This is in addition to the six BA.2.75 cases previously reported, which are all associated with recent travel overseas.

BA.2.75 is a recently identified second generation subvariant of BA.2, the dominant variant circulating in New Zealand at this stage. BA.2.75 has only been recently identified as distinct from BA.2, and evidence on its transmissibility, immune evasiveness and severity is still preliminary and emerging, the ministry said.

New Zealand recorded 10,772 new community cases of COVID-19 and 21 more deaths from the pandemic, it said, adding 348 COVID-19 cases have recently traveled overseas.

A child receives the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 as a performer dressed as superhero character Spider-Man looks on at a gym in San Juan City, suburban Manila on Feb 7, 2022. (TED ALJIBE / AFP)


The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,285 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,735,383.

The DOH said the number of active cases climbed to 20,524.

The agency has reported over 2,000 new cases for the fifth straight day, and tallied 14,640 new cases last week, 44 percent higher than the previous week. The daily average was 2,091 new infections during the period.

The death toll remained unchanged at 60,641.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Health Ministry on Monday urged the people to take the fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine given the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant.

Director General of Health Services Asela Gunawardena said over 95 percent of the people have received their second dose of the vaccine.

However, a significantly lower percentage of the people have taken the third dose, he said.

Taking four doses of the vaccine minimized the risk of contracting the virus and in case of infection, the severity of the disease will also be lower, the health official said.

The vaccines can be obtained at all state hospitals, medical offices of health, and stipulated vaccination centers, Gunawardena said.

A notice warning people not to gather in groups larger than five persons as part of restrictions to hald the spread of the coronavirus is displayed at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Jan 4, 2022. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


Singapore reported 6,227 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total tally to 1,602,273.

Of the new cases, 541 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 5,686 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 506 were local transmissions and 35 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 5,472 local transmissions and 214 imported cases, respectively.

Four deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total death toll to 1,457, the ministry said.  

South Korea

South Korea reported 73,582 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Monday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 18,861,593, the health authorities said Tuesday.

The daily caseload was sharply up from 26,299 the previous day, doubling 37,347 tallied a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

For the past week, the daily average number of confirmed cases was 43,832.

Travelers wearing face maks walk through the arrivals terminal at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok on July 1, 2022. (LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)


The number of severe COVID-19 cases and coronavirus-related deaths in Thailand has increased slightly, fuelled by the Omicron sub-variants and the country's long holidays.

The majority of the critical cases and people on ventilators are found in the capital Bangkok and neighboring provinces, Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said at a press conference Monday.

He said most of the new cases detected last week were among high-risk groups, including the elderly and people with chronic diseases, of which many were either not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

A high volume of inter-provincial traveling during the recent holidays could have led to an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, and requires further monitoring, Opas added.


Vietnam recorded 840 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, up by 95 from Sunday, according to its Ministry of Health.

The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 10,761,435. The country reported no new death from the pandemic on Monday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,091.

As of Monday, 29 severe cases were in need of assisted breathing in the country, according to the ministry.