People wearing face masks walk through the Shibuya scramble crossing in Tokyo, Japan, Jan 21, 2021. (ZHANG XIAOYU / XINHUA)
TOKYO / SINGAPORE / MANILA / NEW DELHI – The Japanese government on Friday agreed to move forward with plans to introduce new legislation to comprehensively deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Under the new measures, authorities will also be able to order people suspected of being infected by COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, including those entering Japan, to self-isolate and penalize those who do not report their condition when in isolation
One such measure will be to mandate certain hospitals to make provisions for patients suffering from COVID-19 as it looks toward the creation of a central agency charged with dealing with infectious diseases.
At a coronavirus task force meeting held at Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's office in Tokyo, it was decided that hospitals that renege on agreements made with local prefectures to provide beds and treatment for COVID-19 patients will be stripped of their special designations and preferential payments for medical services.
"We will systematically set up a framework so that medical services will be provided for certain in the event of an emergency," Kishida said at the meeting.
Kishida told his ministers to compile the necessary legislation that will comprise comprehensive measures to deal with the current and future pandemics, with the bills to amend Japan's infectious diseases law to be submitted during an extraordinary parliamentary session this fall.
The new legislation, it was decided, will also make it possible for the government to call on drug and medical equipment providers in emergencies to produce the requisite items needed, while dentists and clinical laboratory technicians, among others, will be legally allowed to take samples and administer vaccines.
Under the new measures, authorities will also be able to order people suspected of being infected by COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, including those entering Japan, to self-isolate and penalize those who do not report their condition when in isolation.
The task force also decided that a central government agency will be created to respond to infectious diseases during the next fiscal year.
The new measures to combat infectious diseases come as Japan is still in the grip of a seventh wave of COVID-19 infections, and according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) latest epidemiological update on the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan reported the world's highest number of weekly infections during the week to Aug. 21 at 1,476,374 cases.
The WHO also said in the same weekly report that Japan recorded 1,624 deaths from the virus, marking the second-highest in the world after the United States.
India's daily COVID-19 caseload Friday decreased to 6,168, officials said.
According to federal health ministry data released on Friday morning, the new cases were reported during the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 4,44,42,507 in the country.
The cases reported on Friday marked a fall from the daily caseload of 7,946 on Thursday.
With the fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 59,210.
The country also logged 21 related deaths during the past 24 hours, pushing the overall death toll to 527,932 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.
Residents queue for COVID-19 vaccination in Marikina City, suburban Manila, Philippines, on Aug 6, 2021.
(TED ALJIBE / AFP)
The Philippines reported 3,767 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,883,957.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases fell to 22,259, while 50 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, taking the death toll to 61,864.
Metro Manila, the capital region with a population of over 13 million people, tallied 1,016 new cases.
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 72.5 million people.
A vendor wearing a protective facemask amid fears about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus serves a customer at a fruit stall in Singapore on May 8, 2020. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)
Singapore reported 2,044 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total tally to 1,841,288.
Of the new cases, 234 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 1,810 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the ministry of health.
Among the PCR-confirmed cases, 205 were local transmissions and 29 were imported cases. Among the ART-confirmed cases with mild symptoms and assessed low risk, there were 1,665 local transmissions and 145 imported cases.
A total of 245 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 11 cases in intensive care units.
One death was reported from COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total death toll to 1,593, the ministry said.
South Korea reported 89,586 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Thursday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 23,417,425, the health authorities said Friday.
The daily caseload went up from 81,573 the previous day, but it was lower than 101,116 tallied a week ago, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
For the past week, the daily average number of confirmed cases was 87,807.
Among the new cases, 317 were imported from overseas, lifting the total to 59,408.