Myanmar detects first cases of Omicron BA.4, BA.5 subvariants

Health workers give a first dose of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine to a woman, part of the 65 years and older tier, at a school being used as a vaccination site in Yangon on Feb 5, 2021. (STR / AFP)

SYDNEY / CANBERRA / SUVA / MANILA / SINGAPORE / HANOI / KUALA LUMPUR / WELLINGTON / SEOUL / PHNOM PENH / YANGON / NEW DELHI – Myanmar's Ministry of Health has confirmed the first six cases of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the ministry's release on Monday, COVID-19 variant Omicron BA.4 was found in one sample and BA.5 in five samples of returnees from foreign countries after a total of 16 laboratory samples of returnees who have been infected with COVID-19 were performed at the Department of Medical Research on June 30.

They are all Myanmar citizens and in good condition, the release said.

Myanmar reported 15 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total cases in the country to 613,751, according to the ministry's figures.

No new death was reported on Monday, leaving the death toll at 19,434 in the country, the release said.

Staff check a client at a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia on Jan 8, 2022. (MARK BAKER / AP)


Australian health authorities warned that a projected looming spike in COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the hospital system.

According to the modeling, the number of Australians being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals during the BA.4 and BA.5 wave of infections is expected to surpass 5,000.

There were 4,327 COVID-19 cases being treated in hospitals on Monday, up from 3,511 a week earlier.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) vice-president Chris Moy said hospitals were facing a big threat as the country also reports an increasing number of influenza cases.

It comes after health authorities in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) on Monday warned daily COVID-19 case numbers could triple before peaking in late July or early August.

"This new wave of COVID-19, combined with the ACT's first influenza season in three years and increases in other respiratory illnesses, are already impacting our community and workplaces," said ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman.

The cruise ship Ruby Princess departs from Port Kembla, some 80 kilometers south of Sydney, on April 23, 2020. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)

In another development, a large cruise ship, destined to arrive in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales, has been struck by a COVID-19 outbreak, leaving more than 2,000 guests affected on the ship.

More than 100 passengers and staff were infected on the cruise ship, Coral Princess, which traveled from the state of Queensland and is due to dock in NSW, the national broadcaster ABC reported on Tuesday.

The NSW health department said on Tuesday that the vast majority of COVID-19 cases on the ship are crew members. While a small number of passengers have been diagnosed with the virus on the ship, their infections were most likely acquired prior to boarding. All COVID-positive people are isolated and being cared for by the onboard medical team.

The health department assessed the risk level of this outbreak as "amber", which indicates a moderate impact on the vessel.

The ship is currently heading to the South Coast of NSW. No crew members will disembark and all passengers disembarking will be requested to return a negative RAT result first.

It is also scheduled to be docked in NSW's Sydney for one day on Wednesday before traveling to Queensland's capital, Brisbane.

Queensland reported 6,768 new COVID-19 cases and 860 hospitalizations on Tuesday, with the number of active cases now at 43,047.

NSW reported 10,806 new COVID-19 cases and 2,049 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours to 4:00 pm Monday.  


Two Omicron variants of the COVID-19 virus, BA.4 and BA.5, have been detected among the new COVID-19 cases in Cambodia since late last month, the country's Ministry of Health said in a statement on Tuesday.

Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 spread faster than earlier forms of Omicron and other variants, the statement said, adding that these sub-variants are easier to evade immune protection and weaken the infected individual's immunity.

"BA.4 and BA.5 symptoms are similar to other Omicron variations, such as fever, cough, sore throat and flu," the statement read.

The statement did not disclose the number of BA.4 and BA.5 cases or where they were found in the country.

Traditional dancers in grass skirts welcome holidaymakers in Nadi on Dec 1, 2021, as Fiji opens its borders to international travelers for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and devastated its tourism-reliant economy. (LEON LORD / AFP)


Fiji has reported three more COVID-19-related deaths and 289 COVID-19 cases over the past few days.

Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Health James Fong said the three deaths, two old women and one old man, occurred since Sunday and two of them were fully vaccinated, according to the Fijivillage news website on Tuesday.

In recent months, severe disease and death in Fiji have only been seen in people with significant underlying medical conditions and the elderly, he said, adding that the three people were with multiple pre-existing medical conditions and their deaths also highlighted the need for early medical care.

According to Fong, Fiji recorded 289 new COVID-19 cases since last Friday.


Despite the Indian government's ongoing campaign to accelerate the pace and coverage of COVID-19 vaccination across states, data shows only one district in the Indian capital has completed over 90 percent of the two-dose vaccination coverage.

According to the data available with the government's CoWIN portal, Indian government's COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network, of the 11 districts in the capital, only the New Delhi district has consistently been the best performer when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination, with 94.2 percent second dose coverage.

Three districts – Southwest, East and West have been able to achieve 89.8 percent, 88.5 percent and 88.4 percent respectively. Four districts – South, Shahdara, North and Northwest have achieved 83.3 percent, 81.7 percent, 81.1 percent and 80.2 percent respectively.

Two districts – Northeast and Central have recorded vaccination coverage of 79.9 percent and 77.1 percent. One district – Southeast has achieved coverage of 70.5 percent.

According to officials, the New Delhi district has one of the best coverage of the precaution dose (third dose) among frontline workers as well. The coverage of the third dose among frontline workers has been poor in other districts.

To fight the pandemic, the Indian government has been trying to increase the vaccination coverage of its population.

So far 66.7 percent of India's eligible population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 which means receiving the required two doses of vaccine.


Malaysia reported 2,417 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Monday, bringing the national total to 4,598,391, according to the health ministry.

There are four new imported cases, with 2,413 cases being local transmissions, data released by the ministry showed.

Five new deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 35,816.

New Zealand

New Zealand recorded 11,548 new community cases of COVID-19 and 19 more deaths from the pandemic, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

In addition, 311 COVID-19 cases have recently traveled overseas.

Currently, 710 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, including 17 in intensive care units or high dependency units.


Pakistan reported 255 new COVID-19 cases and one more death during the last 24 hours, the country's ministry of health said on Tuesday.

The tally of infected people increased to 1,543,505 with the new cases, according to the data released by the ministry.

According to the ministry's statistics, a total of 30,424 people died from COVID-19 in Pakistan, with one more death recorded on Monday.

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' Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,660 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,720,054.

Currently there are 14,218 active cases and the death toll remains unchanged at 60,640 with no new deaths reported from the pandemic on Monday.

The country's COVID-19 infections are rising in number. The DOH recorded 10,271 COVID-19 cases in a weekly bulletin from July 4 to 10, 39 percent higher than the previous week.

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 4,495 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total tally to 1,534,799.

Of the new cases, 339 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 4,156 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 321 were local transmissions and 18 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 3,975 local transmissions and 181 imported cases.

No new deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Monday, leaving the death toll unchanged at 1,432, the ministry said.

South Korea

South Korea reported 37,360 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Monday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 18,561,861, the health authorities said Tuesday.

The daily caseload was sharply up from 12,693 in the previous day, doubling 18,136 tallied a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

For the past week, the daily average number of confirmed cases was 21,136.

Passengers wait for transportation outside the arrival hall of Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on March 15, 2022, as Vietnam announced the return of a visa exemption policy for 13 countries in an effort to kickstart its tourism sector. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)


Vietnam recorded 568 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, up by 103 from Sunday, according to its Ministry of Health.

The infections brought the total tally to 10,755,381 with 43,089 deaths.