A person wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus stands in front of a public awareness notice for COVID-19 protection in Shinjuku district on July 14, 2022, in Tokyo. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP)
TOKYO / JAKARTA / SINGAPORE / HANOI / MANILA – Japan's new daily COVID-19 cases hit a new record Wednesday, topping the 209,000-mark for the first time as the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant continues to run rampant.
The latest nationwide tally of new daily infections compares to the previous record of around 201,000 COVID-19 cases reached last week as the government grapples to deal with the country's seventh wave of infections.
According to local government and the health ministry's figures, more than half of Japan's 47 prefectures reported record numbers of new daily COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, as the country's health system is feeling the strain.
The rapid surge in cases is crippling emergency transport services in the capital, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said, as Tokyo on Wednesday logged 29,036 new daily cases, which marks an almost 40 percent increase from a week earlier.
Officials said emergency crews are struggling to find free hospital beds and in the past week, it took more than five hours to find beds for over 80 patients. This comes as they try to respond to an increasing number of heatstroke patients, said NHK.
"New infections have been continuously increasing at a rapid pace to its highest ever level across Japan," Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Shigeyuki Goto told a meeting of the ministry's advisory panel of experts.
The government however has maintained its stance that another round of emergency restrictions are not needed.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the government's resources are focused on bolstering the medical system and expanding the eligibility of fourth vaccines, while keeping social and economic activities running.
In the western prefecture of Osaka, however, its alert was raised to the highest of three for the first time in about three months and elderly people were urged to refrain from making nonessential trips outdoors.
A woman wearing a mask to curb the spread of coronavirus sits inside a bus in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 17, 2022. (DITA ALANGKARA / AP)
Four million medical workers will receive a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine amid increasing transmissions triggered by the virus' sub-variants in Indonesia, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Wednesday.
Sadikin told local media that administering of the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine started in last August and now it is the time for a new immunity shot.
"So they need a fourth dose to re-strengthen their immune system. We prioritize medical workers," said Sadikin.
The available vaccine stock is sufficient for the use for all medical workers, Sadikin added
The Southeast Asian country has seen a resurgence in cases recently, triggered by the spread of the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.
Authorities also have detected some cases with the BA.2.75 sub-variant which the World Health Organization has categorized as a Variant of Concern Lineage Under Monitoring.
A child receives the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 as a performer dressed as superhero character Spider-Man looks on at a gym in San Juan City, suburban Manila on Feb 7, 2022. (TED ALJIBE / AFP)
The Philippines reported 2,727 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,760,488.
The Department of Health said the number of active cases rose further to 27,754. The death toll remained unchanged at 60,694.
The government is ramping up its vaccination drive amid the sustained uptick in cases. DOH data showed that over 71.4 million Filipinos have been fully-vaccinated with COVID-19 shots as of July 21.
Singapore Airlines stewardesses walk past a giant lollipop candy display at Changi International Airport in Singapore on April 1, 2022, as Singapore reopened its land and air borders to travelers fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. (ROSLOAN RAHMAN / AFP)
Singapore reported 8,763 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total tally to 1,685,889.
Of the new cases, 719 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 8,044 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.
Among the PCR cases, 678 were local transmissions and 41 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 7,742 local transmissions and 302 imported cases.
Three new deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 1,490, the ministry said.
A man passes walks past a billboard on the coronavirus in Ho Chi Minh City on Dec 4, 2021. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)
Vietnam recorded 1,761 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, up by 301 from Tuesday, according to its Ministry of Health.
This is the highest daily figure recorded by the country since May 18 this year, according to the ministry.
On the same day, the central Quang Tri province reported 911 previously detected COVID-19 cases.
The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 10,772,980. The country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Wednesday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,092.