Official: Philippine President free from COVID-19 symptoms

New Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, accompanied by his wife Louise (left), and son and Congressman Sandro Marcos (2nd left) arrive at the Malacanang presidential palace, following his inauguration ceremony in Manila on June 30, 2022. (MARIA TAN/AFP)

MANILA / HANOI / YANGON / SINGAPORE / TOKYO / WELLINGTON / KUALA LUMPUR / CANBERRA – Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos has no more COVID-19 symptoms and will likely end his seven-day isolation on Friday, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said on Wednesday.

Quoting the health bulletin that Marcos' doctor issued, Angeles said the 64-year-old Philippine leader "has been free from all symptoms of COVID-19 for the past two days."

Moreover, she said that Marcos' vital signs are all within normal limit, without any signs of respiratory distress.

Marcos has been in isolation since last Friday after he contracted the highly-infectious coronavirus. He had tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020.

The Philippines' Department of Health reported 1,604 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,723,014.

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)


Australia's Health Minister Mark Butler has warned that "millions" of people could get infected with coronavirus in the coming weeks amid a winter surge.

Butler recently asked the Australians to wear masks and work from home when needed to mitigate the impact of a wave of BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariant infections.

There were 316,574 active COVID-19 cases in Australia by Wednesday – a figure Butler said could increase within weeks.

"I think this is a very concerning wave. This is the third wave just this year that Omicron has thrown at Australia," he said on the TV program Sunrise on Wednesday.

"It's likely over coming weeks that some millions of Australians will catch COVID-19, some of them catching it again after perhaps having caught it earlier this year."

On Thursday, Australia reported more than 35,000 new COVID-19 infections and more than 70 deaths.

According to government data published by the Guardian Australia on Thursday, 91 deaths were reported by aged care providers in the week ending July 8, up from 58 the week prior, and well above the weekly average of 69 since the beginning of March, when the last Omicron wave ended.

More than 2,000 aged care residents have died with COVID-19 in 2022 – more than twice as many as the 917 in 2020 and 2021 combined.

As of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 8,596,145 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Australia, including 10,437 deaths, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

A woman wearing a face mask checks out her mobile phone as she walks across an intersection of the famed Ginza shopping district in Tokyo on June 3, 2022. (HIRO KOMAE / AP)


Japan warned on Tuesday that a new wave of coronavirus cases appears to be rapidly spreading through the nation, calling on people to be especially careful ahead of an upcoming long weekend and imminent summer school vacations.

Japan has recently seen new COVID-19 cases surge to levels not seen since early this year, with Tokyo recording 16,878 new cases on Wednesday, the highest since February, while national cases rose above 90,000.

"We had a total 94,466 new cases reported nationwide yesterday, and newly-infected patients have increased by 2.14-fold compared to the last week, and we are seeing a rapid expansion," chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference.

But he said hospital bed usage remained low, as did the number of serious cases and deaths.

Tokyo is set to raise its COVID alert level to its highest tier, Fuji News Network reported.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is scheduled to give a news conference at 6:00 pm (0900 GMT) on Thursday that Kyodo said was likely to address both the spread of coronavirus.

"The number of new cases is rising in every prefecture in Japan, and it seems to be rapidly spreading," Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto said at the start of a committee meeting on dealing with the coronavirus.

"There's likely to be a further impact from the upcoming three-day weekend and summer vacation," he said.

The surging national cases have included people in government such as ruling party publicity head Taro Kono and Karen Makishima, head of the Digital Agency.


Malaysia reported 3,934 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Wednesday, bringing the national total to 4,604,670, according to the Health Ministry.

There are seven new imported cases, with 3,927 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

Nine new deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 35,828.
A woman receives a shot of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Yangon, Myanmar, Aug 29, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)


Myanmar confirmed 13 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 613,773 on Wednesday, according to the country's Health Ministry.

The health authorities tested 6,283 people for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, and the daily positivity rate was 0.21 percent.

The ministry said that the death toll from COVID-19 in the country remained unchanged at 19,434 as no new deaths were confirmed in the past 24 hours.

People return to shopping at Newmarket in Auckland, New Zealand as some COVID-19 restrictions were eased, Nov 10, 2021. (ALEX BURTON / NEW ZEALAND HERALD VIA AP)

New Zealand

The New Zealand government on Thursday announced free masks and rapid antigen tests as it tries to stem the spread of COVID-19 and relieve pressure on the country's health system which is dealing with an influx of COVID and influenza patients.

There has been a significant jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand in the past couple of week and authorities are forecasting that this wave of Omicron might be worst than the first.

The hospital system is already struggling with increases in wait times and surgeries having to be cancelled.

"There's no question the combination of a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the worst flu season in recent memory and corresponding staff absences are putting health workers and the whole health system under extreme pressure," Ayesha Verrall, Minister for COVID-19 Response, said in a statement.

New Zealand, which has a population of 5.1 million, recorded 11,382 new cases of COVID on Thursday, with a total of 68,737 currently infected with the virus. Of those 765 cases are currently in hospital.

Verrall said while COVID-zero was no longer a possibility people did need to wear masks, to get tested and to isolate if either they or someone in their home tests positive to the virus.

The government is making free masks and tests more widely available, allowing pharmacies to sell COVID medicines and is expanding the criteria for who is eligible for antiviral medication.

"Now's not the time to stop wearing masks. Evidence tells us wearing a mask halves your chance of being infected with COVID-19. It also helps protect you against influenza and other winter illnesses so if you don't wear a mask for yourself, please wear one for healthcare workers," said Verrall.

A notice warning people not to gather in groups larger than five persons as part of restrictions to hald the spread of the coronavirus is displayed at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Jan 4, 2022. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


Singapore reported 16,870 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total tally to 1,557,648.

Of the new cases, 15,978 were local transmissions and 892 were imported cases. Among the local cases, 906 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 15,072 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

A total of 734 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 12 cases in intensive care units.

Three deaths were reported due to COVID-19 infection, pushing the death toll to 1,440, 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 1,001 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, up by 128 from Tuesday, according to its Ministry of Health.

The infections brought the total tally to 10,757,257. The country reported no death from the disease on Wednesday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,090.

Roughly 236.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country, including over 208.1 million shots on people aged 18 and above, said the ministry.