Policemen wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) stand at a security check point on a street as a partial lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Karachi on Aug 2, 2021. (RIZWAN TABASSUM / AFP)
JERUSALEM / WELLINGTON / MANILA / KUALA LUMPUR / SUVA / SEOUL / HANOI / TOKYO / SYDNEY / ISLAMABAD / ANKARA / SINGAPORE / DHAKA / COLOMBO / BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN / DUBAI / COLOMBO – Pakistan hit a target on Tuesday to vaccinate one million people a day against COVID-19, making strides in its inoculation campaign just weeks away from a deadline for workers in public-facing roles to obtain vaccination certificates.
"Happy to report that the target we had set for 1 million vaccinations in a day was crossed," Asad Umar, the minister in-charge for COVID-19 operations, said in a tweet.
Pakistan has seen soaring coronavirus infections, fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant, putting its poor health infrastructure under extreme pressure.
Out of a population of 220 million, more than 31 million have received one vaccine shot, but only 6.7 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), a military run body that oversees the COVID-19 operations.
It said Pakistan registered 3,582 new cases and 67 deaths in the last 24 hours, with more than 3,300 people in critical condition. So far 23,529 people have died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with over one million infections.
Officials say more than 70 percent of new cases are Delta variant infections.
People stand in a queue as they wait to receive a dose of the Covishield vaccine at a primary school in Siliguri on August 3, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)
India's industrial hub of Maharashtra state eased COVID-19 restrictions in most districts on Tuesday, including in the financial capital of Mumbai, after a steady decline in new cases.
Shops, malls and parks were allowed to open for longer and offices were allowed to operate at full capacity. However, cinemas, schools and places of worship will remain closed, according to a state government notice late on Monday.
Maharashtra has been the worst-affected state in India's COVID outbreak, accounting for more than 6 million of the 31.7 million cases.
At the peak of a second wave of infections driven by the Delta variant of the virus in April and May, state authorities imposed restrictions on movements and only let essential shops open.
But as cases have declined in recent weeks, there has been pressure on authorities to ease the restrictions.
The Lao government has decided to extend the current nationwide lockdown to Aug 18 as the COVID-19 cases continued to rise.
Deputy Head of the Prime Minister's Office, Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Tuesday that the lockdown will be extended as the COVID-19 situation in Laos is not yet fully under control and the situation in neighboring countries remained risky.
The current nationwide lockdown, imposed on July 19, was set to expire on Tuesday.
The National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control on Tuesday reported 237 new imported cases and 13 locally transmitted cases.
Among the imported cases,78 were reported in Lao capital Vientiane, 63 in Savannakhet, 48 in Champasak, 30 in Khammuan, 16 in Saravan, and two in Vientiane province.
Elderly women wearing face masks attend a yoga class re-opened for the first time since the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic at Seodaemun Senior Welfare Centre in Seoul on July 1, 2021, as South Korea seeks to ease curbs. (PHOTO / AFP)
South Korea has detected its first two cases of the new Delta Plus COVID-19 variant, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Tuesday, as the country battles with its fourth wave of infections nationwide.
The Delta Plus variant is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant first identified in India, and has acquired the spike protein mutation called K417N, which is also found in the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.
Reports of Delta Plus cases have been few so far, and a handful of countries, including Britain, Portugal and India, have reported some cases.
"The first case (in South Korea) was identified in a man in 40s who has no recent travel records," the KDCA told Reuters in a text message.
Test results in people who have been in contact with the man showed that a family member of his tested positive, but the KDCA did not confirm the patient was infected with Delta Plus.
Vietnam is set to approve the use of Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir for the treatment of patients who have contracted the coronavirus, state media reported on Tuesday.
The Southeast Asian country successfully contained COVID-19 for much of the pandemic, but has seen a spike in infections and hospitalisations since an outbreak which emerged in late April.
After receiving donated supplies of remdesivir, Vietnam has already been using the drug for COVID-19 treatment in some health facilities, the state-run VTC newspaper cited deputy health minister Nguyen Truong Son.
“The ministry is studying the inclusion of remdesivir in the treatment regimen and will approve the use of remdesivir in COVID-19 treatment soon,” Son said.
Remdesivir has been approved for emergency use in severely-ill patients in countries such as the United States, India and South Korea, and has received full approval in Japan.
Vietnam recorded 8,429 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, including 8,377 locally transmitted and 52 imported, according to the country's Ministry of Health.
The new infections brought the total tally to 170,190, with 2,071 deaths, the ministry said.
People wear face masks in Tokyo on July 28, 2021, a day after the city reported a record 2,848 new daily cases of COVID-19. (PHOTO / AFP)
Japan will hospitalize only COVID-19 patients who are seriously ill and those at risk of becoming so while others isolate at home, officials said, as worries grew about a strained medical system amid a surge in Olympics host city Tokyo and elsewhere.
The country has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, and is recording more than 10,000 daily new infections nationwide. Tokyo had a record high of 4,058 on Saturday.
Tokyo hospitals are already feeling the crunch, Hironori Sagara, director of Showa University Hospital, told Reuters.
Japan has carried out a threat to publicly shame people not complying with coronavirus border control measures, releasing the names of three people who broke quarantine rules after returning from overseas.
The health ministry said late on Monday the three Japanese nationals named had clearly acted to avoid contact with authorities after recently returning from abroad.
The announcement, the first of its kind, sparked a flurry of speculation among Twitter users about the details of those identified, such as their jobs and locations.
Japan is asking all travellers from overseas, including its own citizens, to self-quarantine for two weeks, during which they are asked to use a location-tracking smartphone app and report on their health condition.
The Tokyo metropolitan government reported 3,709 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
New COVID-19 cases in Tokyo dropped to 2,195 the previous day after exceeding 3,000 five days in a row.
Australia’s New South Wales, home to Sydney, said on Tuesday it could ease a COVID-19 lockdown that demands five million people stay at home until the end of August if 50 perecnt of the population is vaccinated, even as new infections linger near a 16-month high.
A lifting of restrictions in New South Wales, the country's most populous state, would be a boost for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, under intense pressure here for his government's handling of the vaccine rollout, with the threat of a second economic recession in as many years looming.
New South Wales, which accounts for a third of all activity in Australia’s A$2 trillion (US$1.47 trillion) economy, has struggled to contain a surge of cases of the highly infectious Delta variant in Sydney, the country’s biggest city, despite the lockdown, currently due to be lifted on Aug. 29.
While New South Wales on Tuesday reported another 199 locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours - near a 16-month high of 239 infections recorded in one day last week - state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said curbs could be eased if six million people are vaccinated by the time the lockdown is due to end.
“Six million jabs is roughly half the population with at least one or two doses,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney. “That gives us additional options as to what life looks like on 29 August.”
Berejiklian didn’t say exactly how many in New South Wales were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, but said the state is on course to meet its vaccination target. She cautioned the number of people in the community while infectious would also need to come down.
Pakistan plans to tighten rules in bigger cities this month to avert a likely fourth coronavirus wave as the delta variant spreads. Curbs include closing markets at 8 p.m. and halving in-office attendance, Planning Minister Asad Umar said at a news conference Monday. The new rules run Aug 3 to Aug 31.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's COVID-19 test result is negative, a government spokesman confirmed on Tuesday.
Ardern had stepped back from her duties on Tuesday after picking up a "seasonal sniffle" from her three-year-old daughter. She had taken a COVID-19 test earlier in the day as a precautionary measure.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson stood in for Ardern and took on all her responsibilities for the day.
New Zealand is largely free of coronavirus and has had no cases in the community since February.
Israel's Ministry of Health reported 3,218 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the tally of infections in the country to 878,931.
The death toll from the virus in Israel rose by nine to 6,486, while the number of active cases rose by 2,069 to 20,437, the highest since March 18.
The number of patients in serious condition rose from 206 to 217, the ministry said.
The total recoveries from the virus in Israel climbed to 852,008 after 1,140 newly recovered cases were added.
People walk along Istiklal Street, the main shopping street in Istanbul on July 27, 2021. (MUCAHID YAPICI / AP)
Turkey on Monday registered 22,898 new COVID-19 cases, raising its tally of infections to 5,770,833, according to its Health Ministry.
The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 91 to 51,519, while 5,947 more people recovered in the last 24 hours.
A total of 270,426 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.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 111 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total tally in the country to 65,213.
The new infections included 106 locally transmitted cases, of which 65 were linked to previous cases and have already been placed on quarantine, 16 were linked to previous cases and were detected through surveillance, and 25 were currently unlinked.
There were five more imported cases, who had already been placed on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or isolated upon arrival in Singapore.
A total of 602 cases are currently warded in hospital. Most are well and under observation. There are currently 36 cases of serious illness requiring oxygen supplementation, and seven in critical condition in the intensive care unit (ICU).
The Bangladeshi government has decided to extend the ongoing nationwide strict lockdown imposed against the COVID-19 pandemic for five more days until Aug 10.
Bangladeshi Minister for Liberation War Affairs AKM Mozammel Haque announced the decision at a press conference on Tuesday after a high-level meeting held in the capital Dhaka.
He said the ongoing restrictions on public and vehicular movement will be relaxed in phases from Aug. 11, and all the shops and shopping malls will reopen on the same day.
Bangladesh imposed the ongoing strict lockdown from July 23 to Aug 5 after relaxing restrictions for a week on the occasion of Eid al-Adha festival which was celebrated here on July 21.
Bangladesh reported 15,989 new COVID-19 cases and 246 more deaths on Monday, making the tally at 1,280,317 and the death toll at 21,162, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.
The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Tuesday 6,879 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,612,541.
The death toll climbed to 28,141 after 48 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH added.
Medics haul an oxygen tank onto the back of a police car for elderly COVID-19 patient Worapoj Salee as he is taken away for additional medical care in the Charoen Krung neighborhood in Bangkok on July 30, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)
Thailand on Tuesday expanded tighter control measures to more regions amid surging new COVID-19 infections.
The country reported 18,901 new cases and 147 additional deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to 652,185 and that of cumulative fatalities to 5,315, according to the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), the country's COVID-19 task force.
Malaysia has reported 17,105 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the national total to 1,163,291, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that 37 of the new cases are imported and 17,068 are local transmissions.
Another 195 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 9,598.
Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Health James Fong announced Tuesday seven new COVID-19 deaths and 1,220 new COVID-19 cases reported in the country.
Fong said there have now been 261 deaths due to COVID-19 in Fiji, with 259 of them during the outbreak that started in April this year.
Fong said of the 1,220 new cases, 464 cases are from the Western side and 756 cases are from the Central side.
There are now 22,689 active cases in Fiji to date.
Army health officials inoculate people with a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Aug 1, 2021. (ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)
Sri Lanka has crossed the 10-million mark in administering the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines since the vaccination program rolled out in late January, State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana said here Tuesday.
Jayasumana said the total population above 30 years of age in Sri Lanka was 11.5 million, adding the remaining 1.5 million would be administered the vaccines soon.
"The target set by the President is to vaccinate all those who are above 30 years of age before the end of August. However, we are now confident that we have the potential to achieve this task even before the given time," Jayasumana told reporters.
The total number of COVID-19 patients in Sri Lanka rose to 313,769 Tuesday after 2,382 new patients were detected with the virus, official figures from the Health Ministry showed.
Sri Lanka is presently amidst a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with a rapid spread of the Delta variant which has become the dominant variant in the country.
The active patient count in Sri Lanka is now 26,428 while the total death toll from the virus reached 4,571.
Brunei reported one new imported COVID-19 case on Tuesday, bringing the national tally to 339.
According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, Case 339 is a 26-year-old woman who arrived in the country from Manila, the Philippines on July 21. She does not have signs of infection and the contact tracing for this case has found no close contacts.
There are currently 52 active cases being treated and monitored at the National Isolation Center, who are all in a stable condition.
The United Arab Emirates will on Thursday lift a ban on transit flights including from India and Pakistan, the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority (NCEMA) said on Tuesday.
The Gulf state, a major international travel hub, had banned passengers from many South Asian and African states travelling through its airports this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
NCEMA said on Twitter that passengers travelling from countries where flights had been banned would be able to transit through its airports from Aug 5 as long as they present a negative PCR coronavirus test taken 72 hours prior to departure.
Final destination approval would also have to be provided, the authority said, adding that UAE departure airports would arrange separate lounges for transiting passengers.
The transit ban had also included Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Nigeria.
NCEMA said a ban on entry to the UAE for passengers from these countries would also be lifted for those with valid residencies and who are certified by Emirati authorities as fully vaccinated.
HONG KONG NEWS