Published: 11:32, August 13, 2022 | Updated: 14:56, August 13, 2022
Virus: DPRK lifts mask mandate, distancing rules
By Agencies

This picture taken on June 10, 2022 and released from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on June 11 shows workers disinfecting the interior of Pyongyang International Airport as part of measures against the COVID-19 coronavirus. (STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)

SEOUL / WELLINGTON / MANILA / KUALA LUMPUR / NEW DELHI - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has dropped a face mask mandate and other social distancing rules as leader Kim Jong-un declared victory over COVID-19 this week, state media said on Saturday.

Kim presided over a COVID-19 meeting on Wednesday and ordered the lifting of maximum anti-epidemic measures imposed in May, adding that the DPRK must maintain a "steel-strong anti-epidemic barrier."

ALSO READ: ROK reports 128,714 new COVID-19 cases

Under the shift to a "normal" anti-epidemic system from a "top-level" system, the DPRK dropped the mask-wearing obligation and other rules such as limit on service time of commercial and public facilities in all areas except border regions, according to the official KCNA.

The DPRK recommended those experiencing respiratory symptoms should keep wearing masks, and urged people to maintain vigilance against "abnormal things" which Pyongyang has cited as the cause of infections.

A girl walks past a poster at a vaccination centre in New Delhi on April 10, 2022, after government announced the paid precaution dose against the coronavirus to be available for everyone above 18 years of age at private vaccination centers. (MONEY SHARMA / AFP)


India's daily COVID-19 caseload decreased to 15,815 on Saturday, taking the total tally to 44,239,372 in the country, according to federal health ministry data.

With the reporting of fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 119,264.

The country also logged 68 related deaths during the past 24 hours, pushing the overall death toll to 526,996 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.


Malaysia reported 3,943 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Friday, bringing the national total to 4,728,168, according to the health ministry.

There is one new imported case, with 3,942 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

Another four deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 36,070.

The ministry reported 4,645 new recoveries, bringing the total number of cured and discharged to 4,646,723.

A man wearing a face mask walks on a street during a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown in Wellington on Aug 18, 2021.(MARTY / MELVILLE / AFP)

New Zealand

New Zealand reported 3,650 new community cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers of COVID-19 in New Zealand now sits at 4,418. The ministry also reported 546 current hospitalizations, including 10 cases in intensive care units or high dependency units on Saturday.

In addition, there were 92 new cases that have recently traveled overseas, according to the ministry.

New Zealand has reported 1,670,483 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. 

A woman gets inoculated with Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination hub in Taguig City, the Philippines, on April 16, 2021. (ROUELLE UMALI / XINHUA)


The Philippines reported 4,661 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,823,084.

The Department of Health said the number of active cases jumped to 40,315, the highest since March 30, and 28 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 60,944.

Metro Manila tallied 1,489 new cases. DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that new infections in Metro Manila have slowed, while the number "in most areas" in the country is "still at a continuous uptrend."

Vergeire added that the DOH also noted an "uptrend" of severe and critical hospital admissions.

The Philippines reported its highest COVID-19 single-day tally of 39,004 new cases on Jan 15. The country, with a population of around 110 million, has fully vaccinated over 71.5 million people.