New Zealand PM says early signs that COVID-19 cases falling

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Sydney on July 8, 2022. (STEVEN SAPHORE / AFP)

MANILA / SINGAPORE / HANOI / WELLINGTON / SYDNEY / NEW DELHI / SEOUL / ISLAMABAD / KUALA LUMPUR – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that there were early signs that new COVID-19 cases were falling, even as hospitalisations jumped to their highest level since March.

New Zealand recorded 6,910 new COVID cases on Monday, well below average levels over the past week, according to data from the health ministry

New Zealand recorded 6,910 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, well below average levels over the past week, according to data from the health ministry.

However, the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 jumped to 836, the most since March 29 when 842 COVID-19 patients were in hospital.

Ardern told a weekly news conference that authorities had seen a drop in the prevalence of COVID-19 in wastewater, which suggested there might be a further decline in cases.

"Even when case number come away, it takes us about two weeks to see that really shift our hospitalisations," she said, adding that it was therefore important to watch hospitalisation numbers in coming days.

New Zealand closed its border in early 2020 as the coronavirus was spreading around the world and imposed lockdowns and strict social distancing to keep its infection low.

The COVID-19 death toll in the country of 5.1 million people is 2,006.

It began re-opening its border in February and will lift the last restrictions at the end of this month.

The Omicron BA.5 sub-variant is driving New Zealand's infections with 59,445 active cases in the past seven days, although authorities say many infections are unreported.

Ardern said there was also some suggestion that cases might have been under reported during the recent school holidays.

Health workers conduct COVID-19 tests at the St Vincent's Hospital drive-through testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney June 27, 2021on the first full day of a two-week coronavirus lockdown to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant. (STEVEN SAPHORE / AFP)


The number of Australians admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 hit a record of about 5,450 on Monday, official data showed, as the spread of highly contagious new Omicron sub-variants strains the healthcare system nationwide.

More than 1,000 retirement homes have suffered outbreaks, the Australian government said, as the elderly are largely affected

The figure has grown since late June, as the BA.4 and BA.5 strains became dominant since they can evade immune protection, whether from vaccination or prior infection, while some experts say the latter can be as infectious as measles. read more

The number of those in hospitals is the highest since the emergence of the coronavirus, exceeding January's high of 5,390 during the first wave of Omicron infections. Daily death tolls have also risen, topping 100 on Saturday for the first time.

More than 1,000 retirement homes have suffered outbreaks, the government said, as the elderly are largely affected.

With several aged care centres battling a shortage of staff, the support of defence personnel in such facilities is to be extended until the end of September, Defence Minister Richard Marles said.

"It is an extreme measure and it's right to describe it as that," he told ABC television. "Given the number of outbreaks that we've got right now, this is the right thing to do."

Many frontline workers in hospitals are also sick or in isolation, worsening the healthcare crisis.

During a harsh winter with both COVID-19 and the flu virus circulating, authorities have recommended the use of masks indoors and urgent booster doses of vaccine, while telling businesses to allow work from home.

Australia, one of the countries most heavily vaccinated against COVID-19, has given two doses to about 95 percent of those older than 16, although just about 71percent have had booster shots.

Still, its tally of about 9.13 million infections and 11,181 deaths was lower than many developed economies.

Health workers participate in a COVID-19 vaccine delivery system trial in Hyderabad, India, Jan 2, 2021. (MAHESH KUMAR A. / AP)


After days of reporting over 20,000 new cases a day, India's daily caseload on Monday slipped to 16,866, officials said.

According to federal health ministry data released on Monday morning, 16,866 new cases of COVID-19 were reported during the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 43,905,621 in the country.

The cases reported on Monday mark a decrease in comparison to the daily caseload of Sunday (20,279).

With the reporting of fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 150,877.

The country also logged 41 related deaths during this period, which has pushed the overall death toll to 526,074 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.

People wait to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Klang, Selongor, Malaysia, Sept 12, 2021. (CHONG VOON CHUNG / XINHUA)


Malaysia reported 2,720 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Sunday, bringing the national total to 4,651,651, according to the health ministry.

There were five new imported cases, with 2,715 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

Three new deaths were reported, pushing the death toll to 35,914.


With 582 fresh cases reported during the last 24 hours, the COVID-19 positivity rate in Pakistan has reached 3 percent, according to the country's ministry of health on Monday.

The new infections were detected after diagnostic testing was performed on 19,389 samples.

With the new infections, the overall number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to 1,550,880 in the Asian country, showed the data released by the ministry.

A total of 282 people were reported to have recovered from the pandemic over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1,512,841, according to the ministry's statistics.

A total of 30,469 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with two more deaths reported over the last 24 hours, said the ministry.

Former Philippine president Gloria Arroyo attends the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2019 in Boao, south China's Hainan province on March 26, 2019. (STR / AFP)


Former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has tested positive for COVID-19, her chief of staff Erwin Krishna Santos said on Sunday.

Santos said Arroyo, currently a member of the House of Representatives, tested positive in an antigen test on July 15 and "immediately underwent self-quarantine."

ALSD READ: India reports 20,279 new COVID-19 cases

Santos added an RT-PCR test conducted Saturday showed that the 75-year-old politician is still COVID-19 positive.

"Therefore, the former head of state will not attend the first State of the Nation address of President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos on Monday," Santo said.

A health worker waits to screen passengers at Incheon international airport in the Republic of Korea on Dec 29, 2020, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Ed JONES / AFP)

South Korea

South Korea reported 35,883 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 19,247,496, the health authorities said Monday.

The daily caseload was down from 65,433 in the prior day due to fewer virus tests over the weekend, but it was far higher than 26,279 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 65,655.

Among the new cases, 343 were imported from overseas, lifting the total to 41,847.

The number of infected people who were in a serious condition stood at 144, down two from the previous day.

Seventeen more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 24,890. The total fatality rate was 0.13 percent.

This photo shows a COVID-19 vaccination notice for senior citizens in Chinatown area of Singapore on Aug 3, 2021. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)


Singapore reported 6,175 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total tally to 1,659,156.

Of the new cases, 666 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 5,509 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 633 were local transmissions and 33 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 5,317 local transmissions and 192 imported cases.

A total of 738 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 21 cases in intensive care units.

Four more deaths were reported from the pandemic on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 1,476, the ministry said. 

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 748 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, down by 324 from Saturday, according to its Ministry of Health.

The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 10,767,948. The country reported no new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,092.

As of Sunday, 29 severe cases were in need of assisted breathing in the Southeast Asian country, according to the ministry.

Nationwide, 9,861,276 COVID-19 patients, or nearly 92 percent of the total infections, have recovered.

More than 242.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country, including over 211.1 million shots on people aged 18 and above, said the ministry.