Published: 14:18, August 10, 2022 | Updated: 17:28, August 10, 2022
Australian state to hand out free masks to curb COVID-19 spread
By Agencies

A medical worker enters the Epping Gardens aged care facility in the Melbourne suburb of Epping on July 30, 2020, as the city battles fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus. (WILIAM WEST / AFP)

HANOI / SINGAPORE / YANGON / MANILA / WELLINGTON / KUALA LUMPUR / SEOUL / SYDNEY / ISLAMABAD / NEW DELHI - Authorities of the Australian state of Victoria have announced that free masks will be handed out to the community to curb the COVID-19 transmission.

More than 3 million free N95 and KN95 masks would be given to the community through state-run testing sites and community health services across the state the next four to six weeks, said the announcement of the Victorian government on Tuesday.

Every person that presents for either a free rapid antigen or PCR test will receive one box of 10 N95 masks, along with instructions on how best to wear them to reduce transmission.

"Wearing a mask, staying up to date with your vaccinations and ensuring indoor areas are well ventilated are all steps Victorians and businesses can take to manage their own COVID-19 risk this winter and into the future," said Victorian Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas.

The state reported 5,898 cases and 52 deaths to the virus in the past 24 hours till 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, some of which came from historical data over the last week.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 4,844 people have died in the state, the highest death toll of any Australian state or territory.


 India recorded 16,047 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, taking the total tally to 44,190,697, according to data from the country's health ministry.

With the fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 128,261. The country logged 54 more COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the overall death toll to 526,826 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.

Following the detection of cases with new sub-variants of the COVID-19 virus, the Indian government has focused its anti-pandemic efforts on improving the inoculation rate of booster vaccine doses.


Malaysia recorded 3,083 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 4,714,498, according to the country's health ministry.

Among them were three new imported cases and 3,080 local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

Another 12 deaths from the pandemic were reported in the Southeast Asian country, taking the death toll to 36,044.

A woman receives a shot of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Yangon, Myanmar, Aug 29, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)


Myanmar confirmed 27 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 614,240 on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry said it tested 6,565 people for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, and the daily positivity rate was 0.41 percent.

It added that the death toll from COVID-19 in the country remained unchanged at 19,434 as no new deaths were confirmed in the past 24 hours.

Passengers and loved ones reunite at the arrivals hall on the first day of New Zealanders returning from Australia after the border reopened for travelers observing home self-isolation rules, at the Auckland international airport on Feb 28, 2022. (DAVID ROWLAND / AFP)

New Zealand

New Zealand recorded 5,169 new community cases of COVID-19 and 18 more deaths from the pandemic, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.

There have been 1,705 confirmed deaths attributable to COVID-19 since the pandemic began in New Zealand, the health ministry said.

Currently, 599 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals in the country, including 11 in intensive care units or high dependency units, showed official data.


Pakistan reported 352 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the overall tally to 1,560,602, the country's ministry of health said on Wednesday.

A total of 30,508 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with no death reported over the last 24 hours, according to the ministry's statistics.

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 reported 2,618 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,810,772.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases slightly fell to 36,666, and 27 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 60,864.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said COVID-19 infections in areas adjacent to Metro Manila show a "slight uptick following a recent slowdown."

"The number of new coronavirus cases in the rest of Luzon Island is increasing with the fastest rate, while Visayas region in central Philippines is currently showing signs of plateauing," she told a press conference.

Vergeire added that hospital admission of severe and critical COVID-19 patients has shown an uptrend since the start of July.

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 7,965 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 1,771,081.

Of the new cases, 715 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 7,250 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 679 were local transmissions and 36 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 7,028 local transmissions and 222 imported cases, respectively.

One more death from COVID-19 was reported on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 1,542, the ministry said.

People wearing face masks cross a road in the rain near a subway station in Seoul, South Korea on July 13, 2022. (AHN YOUNG-JOON / AP)

South Korea

South Korea recorded 151,792 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Tuesday compared to 24 hours ago, taking the total number of infections to 20,845,973, the health authorities said Wednesday.

The daily caseload was up from 149,897 in the previous day as a highly transmissible Omicron sub-variant continued to spread in the country, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

For the past week, the daily average number of confirmed cases was 113,400.

Fifty more deaths were confirmed from the pandemic in South Korea, bringing the death toll to 25,382. Currently the total fatality rate stands at 0.12 percent.

A man passes walks past a billboard on the coronavirus in Ho Chi Minh City on Dec 4, 2021. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)


Vietnam recorded 2,340 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the highest daily number reported in three months, according to its Ministry of Health.

All the new cases were locally transmitted, said the health ministry.

The newly reported infections, up by 635 from Monday, brought the total tally to 11,351,563. The country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Tuesday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,094.

Over 248.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country, including approximately 215 million shots on people aged 18 and above, said the ministry.