People wait to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Klang, Selongor, Malaysia, Sept 12, 2021. (CHONG VOON CHUNG / XINHUA)
MELBOURNE / JERUSALEM / WELLINGTON – Malaysia reached its target of fully vaccinating 90 percent of the adult population, a milestone that allows the government to end a months-long ban on interstate travel.
Fully inoculated people will be allowed to cross state borders from Oct 11, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a televised broadcast on Sunday. In addition, citizens who have completed both doses will no longer be required to apply for the MyTravelPass scheme to travel overseas, he said.
Fully inoculated people will be allowed to cross state borders from Oct 11, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a televised broadcast on Sunday
Malaysia’s rapid vaccine rollout has allowed the government to gradually lift curbs on movements as it aims to reopen all economic and social sectors by the final quarter of the year. The country plans to reopen its borders to foreign travel in December once 90 percent of adults are fully inoculated, Ismail said in an interview with local media earlier this month.
“Despite all the concessions that have been announced, the fact is that we have to live with the virus,” Ismail said. “The situation demands that people continue to adhere to SOPs. I’d like to remind people not be complacent about the relaxations.”
Since Oct 1, all states have met the key metrics to exit the first phase of Malaysia’s pandemic roadmap, known as the National Recovery Plan. The government last month resumed domestic tourism to certain locations, starting with Langkawi island as the pilot initiative.
While 90 percent of adults completed their jabs, almost 95 percent have received the first dose, data from the health ministry show. Malaysia counted 7,373 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday, the smallest number in three months.
Sydney was set to reopen after months in lockdown, officials said on Sunday, with businesses reading themselves to welcome fully vaccinated residents from Monday.
New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, reported 477 new coronavirus cases and six deaths on Sunday, in an outbreak that has kept 5 million people in state capital Sydney in a lockdown for 100 days.
But as the state has met the threshold of 70 percent of its people fully vaccinated, New South Wales was ready to ease some restrictions and reopen many businesses, said state Premier Dominic Perrottet.
New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, reported 477 new coronavirus cases and six deaths on Sunday, in an outbreak that has kept 5 million people in state capital Sydney in a lockdown for 100 days
"It's a big day for our state, and to everyone across the New South Wales: you've earned it," Perrottet said. "It's been a hundred days of blood, sweat, no beers, but we've got it back in action tomorrow."
When asked what would be the first thing he does on Monday, Perrottet said, "I am going to get a haircut."
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Local media reported that hair and beauty salons have been fully booked for weeks to come.
"We have stretched their days and have opened up extra times in their diaries so that we can book our clients in as soon as we possibly can," Joseph Hkeik, who runs several All Saints skin clinics in Sydney told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Many social distancing restrictions, however, and limits on public gathering will remain for weeks, Perrottet said.
Neighbouring Victoria, its capital Melbourne in lockdown since early August, reported 1,890 new cases and five deaths on Sunday. The state is expected to reopen late in October, once 70 percent of its residents are fully inoculated.
The Melbourne Cup, Australia's most famous horse race, will go ahead on Nov. 2 with crowds of up to 10,000 people, the state government said.
"We're going to normalize this virus," said Victoria's premier, Daniel Andrews. "We're going to open up and we're going to be back doing what we do best."
Nearly 62 percent of all Australians 16 and older have received two doses of vaccine. Once 80 percent of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated, the country will start gradually reopening its international borders, which have been closed since March 2020.
Australia's COVID-19 cases remain, however, far lower than many comparable countries, with just over 127,500 infections and 1,432 deaths in a country of just under 26 million.
Neighbouring New Zealand, which was largely virus-free until a Delta outbreak in mid-August, reported 60 new local cases, up from 34 on Saturday.
The total number of active COVID-19 cases in Israel decreased by 2,713 to 29,155, the state's Ministry of Health said On Saturday.
This is the first time since Aug 6 that the number of active cases in Israel has fallen below 30,000.
This marked a sharp drop of 68.1 percent since Sept. 5, when a record of 91,346 active cases was reported in the country.
The ministry also reported 1,990 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country's total infections to 1,304,249.
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The death toll from the virus rose by nine to 7,894. The total recoveries rose to 1,267,200 after 4,870 newly recovered cases were added.
The number of people who have received the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Israel reached nearly 6.18 million, or 65.8 percent of its total population, while over 5.6 million have taken two doses and over 3.7 million have got three jabs, according to the ministry.
New Zealand reported 61 new cases of COVID-19 Delta variant, said the Ministry of Health in a statement on Sunday.
Of the 61 new cases of COVID-19 reported, 60 were community cases in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and one were imported cases at the border, said the Ministry.
The total case number of COVID-19 in the current Delta variant outbreak in New Zealand community reached 1,587 including 1,538 in Auckland, 31 in Waikato, 17 in Wellington, and one in Bay of Plenty.
There were 29 COVID-19 patients in New Zealand hospitals including seven in ICU or HDU.
New Zealand recorded 4,265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
New Zealand's largest city Auckland is at COVID-19 Alert Level Three restrictions. Gatherings are limited to 10 people.
The Northland region was upgraded from Alert Level Two to Level Three from Friday night after one positive case of COVID-19 was found. Part of the Waikato region in North Island has already been in Level Three due to community cases. The rest of the country is at Alert Level Two restrictions with indoor activities limited to 100 people.
More than 435,000 seniors aged 60 or above in the city-state of Singapore have had COVID-19 booster shots or booked them, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
On Saturday, the government announced a major expansion of the nation’s booster program, dropping the age limit for additional jabs to 30, as well as including health care and frontline workers who received their two-dose regimen six months ago. In recent days, the Southeast Asian nation has been reporting more than 3,000 daily cases.
Saudis Arabia mandated full vaccination to engage in most public activities, state-run SPA reported, citing the interior ministry. The mandate, which will be in effect from Oct 10, covers all commercial, economic and cultural activities, sport and tourism venues, scientific and social events, as well as government and private sector facilities. Passenger aircraft and public transit are included.