Kim suggests DPRK may begin COVID-19 vaccinations

This picture taken on May 17, 2022 and released from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on May 18 shows residents being checked to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in Pyongyang. (STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)

HANOI / SINGAPORE / MANILA / SEOUL / NEW DELHI / WELLINGTON – The Democratic People's Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong-un has suggested that the country could begin COVID-19 vaccinations in November, state media reported on Friday.

In a speech on Thursday to the DPRK's national assembly, Kim cited World Health Organization warnings that the winter could see a resurgence in coronavirus infections.

“Therefore, along with responsible vaccination, we should recommend that all residents wear masks to protect their health from November," he said, without elaborating.

Students line up to receive the Covishield, Serum Institute of India's version of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, during a special vaccination drive for students traveling overseas, in Hyderabad, India, June 11, 2021. (MAHESH KUMAR A. / AP)


India's daily COVID-19 caseload Friday decreased to 6,093, officials said.

According to federal health ministry data released on Friday morning, 6,093 new cases of COVID-19 were reported during the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 44,484,729 in the country.

With the reporting of fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 49,636.

The country also logged 31 related deaths during the past 24 hours, pushing the overall death toll to 528,121 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.

With the increase in cases, the daily positivity rate stands at 1.93 percent and the weekly positivity rate was recorded 1.88 percent, the ministry data showed.

People wait to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Vodafone Events Center, south of Auckland, New Zealand, on July 31, 2021. (ZHAO GANG / XINHUA)

New Zealand

New Zealand recorded 1,483 new community cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths from the pandemic, the Ministry of Health said on Friday.

The country has seen the number of daily cases going down steadily from over 10,000 cases nationwide in early July.

With the fresh cases, New Zealand has reported 1,739,718 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,944 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020, the ministry said.

Currently, 243 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals in the country, including five in intensive care units or high dependency units, showed official data.

The country is currently under the orange settings of its COVID-19 Protection Framework.

A passenger on Singapore Airlines flight arrives, under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), at Changi Airport in Singapore on Oct 19, 2021. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


Singapore reported 2,169 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total tally to 1,854,455.

Of the new cases, 212 cases were detected through polymerase chain reaction tests and 1,957 through antigen rapid tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 184 were local transmissions and 28 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 1,752 local transmissions and 205 imported cases.

A total of 234 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 10 cases in intensive care units.

No new deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Thursday, leaving the death toll unchanged at 1,601, the ministry said.

Health workers conduct COVID-19 swab tests on residents at a village in Quezon City, the Philippines, on May 31, 2021. (AARON FAVILA / AP)

The Philippines 

The Philippines  reported 2,404 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,898,882.

The Department of Health said the number of active cases rose to 24,032, while 39 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 62,206.

Metro Manila, the capital region with over 13 million people, tallied 945 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 72.6 million people. 

A health worker takes swab samples of a security officer for COVID-19 testing at the venue of Vietnam's Communist Party congress in Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan 29, 2021. (HAU DINH / AP)


Vietnam recorded 3,191 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, down by 687 from Wednesday, according to its ministry of health.

All the new cases were locally transmitted, said the ministry.

The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 11,431,823. The country reported a new death from the pandemic in the northern Quang Ninh province on Thursday, bringing the total fatalities to 43,126.

As of Thursday, 154 severe cases were in need of assisted breathing in the Southeast Asian country, according to the ministry.

Nationwide, 10,261,401 COVID-19 patients, or nearly 90 percent of the total infections, have recovered.

More than 257.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country, including over 219.4 million shots on people aged 18 and above, said the ministry.

Also on Thursday, the ministry issued a guideline on wearing masks, which made it mandatory for people with an acute respiratory infection or suspected COVID-19 infection, as well as all people aged over five in public places in areas with higher risks of COVID-19 infection to wear masks.

Wearing masks is also required at medical facilities and accommodations hosting people undertaking medical quarantine or supervision, according to the guideline.

Vietnam has already recorded COVID-19 infections with the Omicron BA.4, BA.5, BA.2.12.1 and BA.2.74 sub-variants, and is accelerating the inoculation of its people with a fourth vaccine dose.