ROK logs highest May deaths due to COVID-19

A medical worker wearing protective gear in a booth, takes sample from a woman during a COVID-19 testing at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, Aug 12, 2021. (LEE JIN-MAN / AP)

SINGAPORE / SYDNEY / MANILA / WELLINGTON / SEOUL / KUALA LUMPUR / NEW DELHI / ISLAMABAD – The Republic of Korea logged the highest May deaths amid a rapid spread of the COVID-19 sub-variant, statistical office data showed on Wednesday.

The number of deaths was 28,859 in May, up 12.8 percent from the same month of last year, according to Statistics Korea

The number of deaths was 28,859 in May, up 12.8 percent from the same month of last year, according to Statistics Korea. It marked the highest May figure since data began to be compiled.

The record deaths were attributable to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, recently driven by a sub-variant.

In addition, the number of newborn babies was 20,007 in May, down 8.8 percent from a year earlier.

The ROK reported 100,285 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Tuesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 19,446,946, the health authorities said on Wednesday.

The daily caseload was up from 99,327 the previous day, and higher than 76,379 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 72,735.

People walk past Australia's landmark Opera House, usually packed with locals and tourists on Christmas Eve but now quiet due to COVID-19 concerns, in Sydney on Dec 24, 2020. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)


Nearly half of all adults in Australia show signs of having had COVID-19 within the past three to six months, according to a new national report.

The findings, released on Wednesday, revealed that by mid-June 46.2 percent of people aged 18 to 89 had caught the virus in the preceding months

The findings, released on Wednesday, revealed that by mid-June 46.2 percent of people aged 18 to 89 had caught the virus in the preceding months, a huge leap since the previous study in late February when about 17 percent of adults appeared to have recently been infected.

The study, overseen by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the National Center for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), was done in collaboration with an array of institutions, including Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, and the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR).

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The screening, known as a serosurvey, examined about 5,140 samples from blood donors. The researchers were looking for two types of antibodies — one type, the anti-spike antibodies, indicating a person has been vaccinated or has built up some natural immunity to the virus due to community exposure, while the other antibody, the anti-nucleocapsid protein, indicating a person has had a recent COVID-19 infection.

The findings revealed young adults were the hardest hit, with 61.7 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds having evidence of a recent infection, in comparison to 25.7 percent of those aged 70 to 89.

Antibody prevalence was similar across the nation, even in states such as Western Australia (WA), which had avoided high case numbers throughout much of the pandemic.

Kirby Institute epidemiologist Dorothy Machalek said the serosurvey showed a shortcoming in basing COVID-19 statistics purely on the results of people who have tested positive.

The researchers noted the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 was to be up to date with vaccinations and boosters, in line with current recommendations.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Koreahas held a large mask-free public event for the first time since declaring a COVID-19 emergency in May, honouring veterans of the 1950-53 Korean war just days after saying its coronavirus crisis was nearly over.

Photos released by state media on Wednesday showed thousands of participants at the annual ceremony without masks, including senior ruling Workers' Party officials and elderly uniformed veterans.

The country said earlier this month it was on a path to "finally defuse" its first publicly declared COVID-19 crisis, even as Asian neighbours battle a resurgence in infections driven by Omicron subvariants.

The official KCNA news agency on Wednesday reported 18 new fever cases for Monday, the third straight day the tally has held below 100 after topping 390,000 in May. It said 99.99 percent of 4.77 million fever patients since late April have fully recovered.

A health worker inoculates a woman with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus at a Public Health Centre (PHC) on the outskirts of Bangalore on Aug 11, 2021.


India's daily COVID-19 caseload rose to 18,313, after two straight days of showing a declining trend in the new cases, officials said on Wednesday.

According to federal health ministry data released on Wednesday morning, 18,313 new cases of COVID-19 were reported during the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 43,938,764 in the country.

With the fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 145,026.


Malaysia reported 4,759 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Tuesday, bringing the national total to 4,659,710, according to the Health Ministry.

There are three new imported cases, with 4,756 cases being local transmissions, data released by the ministry showed.

Nine new deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 35,932.

The ministry reported 4,806 new recoveries, raising the total number of cured and discharged to 4,577,518.

A man wearing a face mask walks on a street during a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown in Wellington on Aug 18, 2021.(MARTY / MELVILLE / AFP)

New Zealand

New Zealand's government said on Wednesday new COVID-19 cases were trending down and it looked likely the country would avoid a feared worst-case scenario of 20,000 infections daily.

In the last seven days there were on average 8,111 new cases daily of COVID, down from a seven-day rolling average of 9,367 new cases in the week prior, according to New Zealand's Health Ministry data released on Wednesday

In the last seven days there were on average 8,111 new cases daily of COVID-19, down from a seven-day rolling average of 9,367 new cases in the week prior, according to Health Ministry data released on Wednesday. Currently 808 people were in hospital with COVID-19, which was also a lower number than earlier, data showed.

Ashley Bloomfield, director general of health, said case rates were trending down and this shift was supported by waste-water testing and a fall in the number of people testing positive on arrival at hospital.

"What is apparent is that the worst-case scenario that our modellers had suggested a couple of weeks ago with up to 1,200 beds occupied and over 20,000 cases a day is now highly unlikely. And I'm sure we're all relieved to see this," said Bloomfield.

The Omicron BA.5 sub-variant is driving the current wave in New Zealand, which has 5.1 million people. There have been 56,750 active cases in the past seven days, although authorities say many infections are unreported.

Once regarded as a model for preventing COVID-19 infection, New Zealand's swift response to the pandemic and its geographic isolation kept it largely free from the virus until the end of last year.

New Zealand has recorded a total of about 1.6 million infections in total and 1,427 deaths, according to the latest data. The deaths are roughly a third lower than previous numbers as the ministry had changed how it classifies virus-related fatalities.

Under the new classification, deaths will be recorded as COVID-19-related if they are attributable to the virus, rather than a death within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.

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.

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

The news conference was Bloomfield's last in this role. The director general, who has led New Zealand's response to COVID-19, steps down from his post on Friday.


Pakistan reported 620 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the country's ministry of health said on Wednesday.

The new infections were detected after diagnostic testing was performed on 16,704 samples.

With the new infections, the overall number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to 1,551,871 in the Asian country, showed the data released by the ministry.

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 reported 2,360 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,757,762.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases rose slightly to 27,643, the highest since April 10. The death toll remained unchanged at 60,694.

"While the new Omicron subvariants are spreading, cases have been reported to be mild and can be allowed to heal at home," DOH Officer-In-Charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergerie said.

If the current trend continues, the DOH projects the country's new cases to hit over 19,000 by August 31. However, if the vaccination rate is improved, the number could hover between 6,000 to 8,000 by end-August.

A sign directs customers to the entrance and exit points at a market in Singapore, on Saturday, September 25, 2021. (BLOOMBERG)


Singapore reported 12,419 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 1,677,126.

Of the new cases, 916 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 11,503 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 878 were local transmissions and 38 imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 11,056 local transmissions and 447 imported cases, respectively.

A total of 727 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 18 cases in intensive care units.

Four deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 1,487, the ministry said.