A health worker wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sanitises his colleague after the funeral for a COVID-19 victim at Nirvana memorial, a Buddhist, Taoist and Christian cemetery in Semenyih, Malaysia, May 26, 2021. (VINCENT THIAN / AP)
MANAMA / TEHRAN/ ANKARA / KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia on Wednesday reported highest daily spike of new confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths since the start of pandemic, the Health Ministry said.
As many as 7,478 new COVID-19 infections were reported, bringing the national total to 533,367, Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement.
Five of the new cases are imported and 7,473 are local transmissions, he said.
Another 63 deaths have been reported, the highest in a single day, pushing the total deaths to 2,432.
Australia’s second largest city Melbourne reinstated COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday as authorities scrambled to find the missing link in a fresh outbreak, prompting New Zealand to pause a “travel bubble” with the state of Victoria.
Amid worries the cluster, which has grown to nine cases in two days, could spark a major outbreak, Victoria imposed social restrictions and made face masks mandatory in hotels, restaurants, and other indoor venues from 6 pm (0800 GMT) on Tuesday until June 4.
The latest outbreak ends Victoria's run of zero cases for nearly three months and saw New Zealand suspend quarantine-free travel with the state and the neighbouring state of South Australia impose travel restrictions.
Australia has avoided the high COVID-19 numbers seen in many developed countries by closing its international borders in the early stages of the pandemic and with lockdowns. It has reported just over 30,000 cases and 910 deaths.
Thousands of people in Melbourne have been ordered to self isolate and undergo COVID-19 tests with health alerts issued for several sites, including one of the largest shopping centres in the country.
Australia will provide Vietnam with a A$40 million (US$31 million) grant for COVID-19 vaccine purchases, according to a post on Vietnam’s government website. Vietnam has also asked for help obtaining AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in Australia.
Vietnamese Premier Pham Minh Chinh has called on the international community to help fund the nation’s vaccine purchases amid a record surge in domestic virus cases. Only 1 percent of the population has had at least one shot; of those, about 3% have received a second dose. Vietnam on Tuesday reported a single-day record of 444 new Covid-19 domestic cases, most in northern provinces.
Australian doctors will administer Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for the first time after a "game changing" decision by the country's medical regulator.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has changed guidelines for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, allowing doses to be stored in regular refrigerators for up to a month before being administered.
Previously the vaccine had to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, limiting its distribution to facilities with specialized cold storage facilities.
People queue at a COVID-19 testing station in Melbourne on May 25, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)
Bahrain on Wednesday announced a series of new measures that includes shutting down malls, gyms, salons and other commercial outlets to counter the spike in COVID-19 cases.
The National Taskforce to Combat the Coronavirus announced in a press conference that the protocol will be implemented from Wednesday night until June 10.
However, hypermarkets, bakery, gas stations, private hospitals and financial institutions will remain open.
Thailand on Wednesday reported 41 new deaths, the highest daily death toll since the outbreak of the pandemic, raising the total number of fatalities to 873, according to the country's Public Health Ministry.
It also reported 2,455 new infections, of which 16 were imported and 2,439 were local transmissions.
Of the local cases, 479 were detected in prisons, from where a new wave of infections among inmates was reported since mid-May.
Thailand, which has a population of some 70 million people, has so far registered 137,894 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of that total, 91,765 patients have fully recovered and been released from hospitals, while 45,256 others are currently hospitalized.
The Maldives will restrict movement from Wednesday to curb a surge in coronavirus infections that is putting pressure on the island's healthcare facilities, officials said.
People will be allowed out for a few hours each day for essential supplies and a strict curfew will be in place from 4 pm to 8 am (0300 GMT) the next day, the Health Protection Agency said.
The restrictions come as the Indian Ocean island has seen a rise in cases and is struggling with a shortage of medical staff, many of whom come from India which is battling its own deadly wave of infections.
The United Arab Emirates, which has one of the fastest inoculation programs in the world, will restrict public events to those who received vaccines against the coronavirus from June 6.
Attendance at all events and activities, including sports and cultural, will be restricted, according to the National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority. Attendees will also have to present a negative PCR test result taken within a maximum of 48 hours prior to the event.
Dubai has already started trialling the resumption of entertainment and sporting events for people who have been vaccinated as cases drop in the UAE. Vaccines from Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca Plc and China’s Sinopharm are approved for use in the Gulf nation.
Bahrain, where cases have spiked this month, also plans to restrict access to public spaces to people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus.
India's COVID-19 tally crossed 27 million on Wednesday, reaching 27,157,795 with 208,921 new confirmed cases recorded in the past 24 hours, said the federal health ministry.
An additional 4,157 deaths from the coronavirus epidemic were reported since Tuesday morning in the South Asian country, taking the death toll to 311,388.
The death toll reached 307,231 as 3,511 deaths were registered since Monday morning, falling below 4,000 for the first time in the past few days.
The decline in both the number of new cases and deaths per day is being attributed to lockdowns, partial or complete, imposed in most of the states.
India's top court Tuesday said the worsening COVID-19 situation cannot be grounds to grant anticipatory bail to an accused.
The order came in a petition filed by the local government of Uttar Pradesh challenging a recent order of Allahabad high court which granted protection from arrest to a man citing the worsening pandemic situation in Uttar Pradesh.
At least 577 children across India were orphaned after their parents died due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic from April 1 until Tuesday, the federal government said.
"Government of India is committed to support and protect every vulnerable child due to loss of both parents to COVID-19. From 1st April 2021 till 2:00 PM Tuesday, the state governments across the country have reported 577 children whose parents succumbed to COVID-19," federal Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani wrote on social media Tuesday night.
Earlier this month Irani urged citizens to report instances of children found to be orphaned by COVID-19 to either the helpline or child welfare committees or the local police.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is considering asking the central government to extend a coronavirus state of emergency in the capital that’s due to expire May 31, public broadcaster NHK reported, without saying where it got the information. Infections are dropping but officials are concerned about a resurgence if the emergency is lifted too soon, NHK said.
The Azerbaijani government on Tuesday said most of the COVID-19 restrictions would be relaxed in the country starting from the end of the month, as the number of new cases has been declining in the past weeks.
Speaking at a press briefing of the Operational Headquarters for COVID-19 prevention and control, Shahmar Movsumov, an assistant to the president, said people will no longer need to wear a face mask outdoors from May 31.
"In addition, the Baku metro and inter-city public transport will resume its work," he said.
However, wearing a face mask indoors and in public transport is still mandatory.
He said that from June 10, large shopping centers, places of worship, gyms and health centers will also reopen across the country but with certain restrictions on the number of visitors.
Movsumov also revealed the government's plans to introduce COVID passports.
"At the first stage we plan to make COVID passports mandatory for those wishing to visit a gym or a health center. In the future, these passports will allow citizens to visit cinemas, theatres, and also receive other advantages, like holding a wedding ceremony, for example," he added.
The country registered 284 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 332,894, according to the Operational Headquarters.
A total of 2,021,371 people have received jabs in the country so far, of them nearly 863,000 fully vaccinated, health authorities said.
Iran reported on Tuesday 11,873 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country's total infections to 2,855,396.
The pandemic has so far claimed 79,056 lives in Iran, up by 208 in the past 24 hours, the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education said.
A total of 2,362,428 people have recovered from the disease or been discharged from hospitals across the country, while 4,695 remained in intensive care units, it added.
By Tuesday, 2,675,594 people have received coronavirus vaccines in the country, with 470,468 taking both doses.
Iraq's Ministry of Health on Tuesday reported 4,938 new COVID-19 cases, raising the nationwide caseload to 1,176,980.
The ministry also confirmed 27 new deaths, bringing the death toll from the virus to 16,241, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 4,279 to 1,090,891.
A total of 10,206,732 tests have been carried out in Iraq since the outbreak of the disease in February 2020, with 45,719 done during the day, the ministry said in a statement.
It also said that 27,543 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 during the past 24 hours across the country, bringing the total number of doses administered in Iraq to 549,969.
Turkey on Tuesday confirmed 9,375 new COVID-19 cases, including 693 symptomatic patients, raising the total number of cases in the country to 5,203,385.
The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 175 to 46,621, while the total recoveries climbed to 5,045,508 after 11,192 more people recovered in the last 24 hours, according to the Turkish Health Ministry.
The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients stood at 3.1 percent and the number of seriously ill patients was 1,667 in the country, said the ministry.
A total of 223,104 tests were conducted over the past day, with the overall number of tests in Turkey reaching 52,817,437.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 30 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 61,890.
Of the new cases, nine are imported cases, 18 are community cases and three are linked with the dormitories of foreign workers.
Overall, the number of new cases in the community has increased from 163 cases in the week before to 176 cases in the past week. The number of unlinked cases in the community has decreased from 37 cases in the week before to 30 cases in the past week, said MOH.
On Tuesday, 13 more cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 61,329 have fully recovered from the infection and been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities.
There are currently 250 confirmed cases who are still in hospital. Of these, most are stable or improving, and two are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
A member of the South Korean Olympic volleyball team receives the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination program for the country's Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics team at the National Medical Center in Seoul on April 29, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)
People given at least one dose also will be allowed to gather in larger numbers starting June, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told a coronavirus response meeting on Wednesday.
He said all quarantine measures would be adjusted once more than 70 percent of residents had received their first dose.
South Korea will begin vaccinating the general public aged between 65 and 74 from Thursday in over 12,000 clinics.
South Korea reported 707 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 137,682 infections, with 1,940 deaths.
The Bangladeshi government announced on Wednesday to extend the closure of the educational institutions till June 12 as the infection rate has risen substantially in parts of the country recently.
"We've decided to keep schools and other educational institutions closed until June 12," Bangladesh's Education Minister Dipu Moni told journalists Wednesday.
Previously the closure was extended in phases till May 29.
She said the latest decision was taken considering the safety of students, teachers, institution employees and guardians in the backdrop of the rising infection rate in parts of the country bordering India.
Bangladesh reported 1,675 new COVID-19 cases and 40 new deaths on Tuesday, making the tally at 792,196 and death toll at 12,441, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.