A health worker administers Covishield vaccine for COVID-19 at a vaccination center in Hyderabad, India on July 15, 2022. (MAHESH KUMAR A. / AP)
KUALA LUMPUR / NEW DELHI / SINGAPORE / SYDNEY – India's daily COVID-19 caseload Saturday increased to 7,219, taking the total tally to 44,449,726, according to the federal health ministry's data released on Saturday.
The cases reported on Saturday mark an increase in comparison to the daily caseload of Friday (6,168).
The country also logged 33 new related deaths, pushing the overall death toll to 527,965 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.
The ministry said 43,865,016 people have been cured and discharged from hospitals.
According to the health ministry, the cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the country has exceeded 2 billion doses. A local media report said around 12 percent of the eligible population has taken the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
At present the Indian government is focusing on improving booster dose coverage as the uptake for the third dose has been low.
Australian health authorities' decision to ease COVID-19 isolation restrictions may have been embraced by bosses, keen to see employees return to the workplace, but there remain a few reservations and unanswered questions among some medical experts.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday that the national cabinet had approved for home isolation periods for asymptomatic COVID-19 cases to be reduced from seven days to five.
The national cabinet also approved the scrapping of compulsory masks for plane passengers.
The new rules, which will come into effect on Sept 9, have long been sought by political leaders, such as New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, who has long argued that COVID-19 restrictions were holding the nation back economically
The new rules, which will come into effect on Sept 9, have long been sought by political leaders, such as New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, who has long argued that COVID-19 restrictions were holding the nation back economically.
The imminent changes have also been seized upon by the Victorian government, as the state is lifting its work-from-home recommendations, which had become a staple part of the "new normal" way of life throughout the pandemic.
Such optimistic outlooks, however, are not fully shared by some leading medical figures, such as the Australian Medical Association President Steve Robson.
"The AMA, like a lot of medical groups and doctors around the country, were puzzled by the decision yesterday; the political decision to reduce isolation," Robson said on Thursday.
"We're puzzled they won't release the health advice underpinning that … we're calling for that to be released, so the politicians can justify to the public why they're making this decision," Robson said.
One expert supporting the new regulations is University of Queensland microbiologist Paul Griffin, who described the changes as a "small step in the right direction" that could even encourage more people to get tested for COVID-19.
"Sometimes people with symptoms have been reluctant to get tested because they don't want to end up having to stay at home for seven days," Griffin told Xinhua on Friday. "By reducing the isolation time, it may make them more willing to be tested."
READ MORE: COVID-19 cases surpass 10 million in Australia
Malaysia reported 2,328 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Friday, bringing the national total to 4,787,308, according to the health ministry.
There are three new imported cases, with 2,325 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.
Another nine deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 36,234.
The ministry reported 2,618 new recoveries, bringing the total number of cured and discharged to 4,719,910.
There are 31,164 active cases, with 79 being held in intensive care and 44 of those in need of assisted breathing.
Singapore reported 1,948 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total tally to 1,843,236.
Of the new cases, 192 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 1,756 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.
Among the PCR cases, 172 were local transmissions and 20 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 1,630 local transmissions and 126 imported cases.
A total of 248 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 11 cases in intensive care units.
One new death was reported from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total death toll to 1,594, the ministry said.