S. Korea’s daily new virus cases hit 110-day high, total over 20m

People wearing face masks cross a road in the rain near a subway station in Seoul, South Korea on July 13, 2022. (AHN YOUNG-JOON / AP)

JAKARTA / SINGAPORE / MANILA / HANOI / ISLAMABAD / CANBERRA / SYDNEY / SEOUL / WELLINGTON / KUALA LUMPUR / VIENTIANE / NEW DELHI – South Korea's daily new COVID-19 cases hit the highest in 110 days, bringing the total number of infections to over 20 million, official data showed Wednesday.

The country reported 119,922 new COVID-19 cases for the past 24 hours as of midnight Tuesday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

It was the highest daily figure in 110 days since mid-April amid a rapid spread of the new COVID-19 sub-variant.

The daily caseload was compared to 100,245 tallied a week earlier and 76,372 two weeks earlier. For the past week, the daily average number of confirmed cases was 86,520.

The total number of COVID-19 cases came to 20,052,305. It topped 20 million less than five months after surpassing 10 million on March 23.

It has raised worries that infections among the elderly people rose sharply during the recent resurgence. In the week ending July 30, the number of infected people aged 60 or older was 94,752, compared to 14,215 recorded three weeks earlier.

The number of infected people who were in a serious condition increased to 284, from 177 a week earlier and 96 two weeks ago.

Of the total serious cases, 48.2 percent were people in their 80s or older, 23.6 percent in their 70s and 10.9 percent in their 60s.

Twenty-six more deaths were confirmed from the pandemic, taking the death toll to 25,110. The total fatality rate was 0.13 percent.

KDCA Commissioner Peck Kyong-ran told the parliamentary committee on Tuesday that health authorities would consider a re-introduction of social distancing rules only when the fatality rate surges to around 0.8 percent or it is about to lack beds for the infected people.

he previous government has lifted all anti-coronavirus measures since April 18, except an indoor mask mandate.

President Yoon Suk-yeol said last month that his government's basic anti-coronavirus principle would be a "scientific" response, emphasizing self-reliance and responsibility of the ordinary people in dealing with the pandemic.

Students wait for their turn to receive their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Sydney on Aug 9, 2021. (DEAN LEWINS / POOL / AFP)


At-risk Australian children as young as six months will be eligible for coronavirus vaccines from September as the country continues to battle against the wave of Omicron sub-variant infections.

Health Minister Mark Butler on Wednesday announced the federal government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization's recommendation that Moderna's vaccine be made available to children with an elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

From Sept 5, approximately 70,000 children aged six months to under five years who are severely immunocompromised, have a disability or complex health conditions will be able to receive their first vaccine dose.

Two doses are recommended eight weeks apart, except for the severely immunocompromised who will require three primary doses.

Australia on Wednesday reported more than 40,000 new COVID-19 infections and more than 60 deaths.

It takes the nation's total pandemic death toll past 12,000.

As of Tuesday afternoon, a total of 9,476,160 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Australia, including approximately 335,069 active cases, according to the latest data from the Department of Health.

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)

Separately, a new prescribing workflow guideline that aims to allow eligible patients to have quick access to COVID-19 antiviral oral treatments has been rolled out in Australia.

The guideline, released on Wednesday by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the country's professional medical body, carried out suitability assessments of COVID-19 oral treatments in advance of a patient testing positive for the virus.

"This is the first time guidelines have been released on how to do pre-emptory assessments for these treatments," said RACGP President Karen Price.

The guideline resource covers the use and suitability of Lagevrio (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir), the two COVID-antiviral medicines listed on the country's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Both medicines require a prescription from a general practitioner (GP), physician or nurse who meets the prescribing requirements, and they cannot be dispensed prior to a positive COVID result.

Under the new prescribing workflow, GPs need to identify and contact patients who may be eligible for these treatments and provide them with an at least 20-minutes phone consultation. It will help practitioners to assess an individual's eligibility for the medicines, determine the appropriate type and dosage of medicine, and avoid drug interactions.

Price said the antivirals have to be taken within five days of symptom onset, and they become less effective the closer you get to day five. Identifying the eligibility earlier can ensure more patients get the treatments if they subsequently test positive for the virus.


India reported 17,135 new cases of COVID-19 during the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 44,067,144 in the country, according to federal health ministry data released on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday's new cases marked an increase after showing a declining trend in the new cases for two straight days.

With the reporting of fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 137,057.

The country also logged 47 related deaths during the past 24 hours, pushing the overall death toll to 526,477 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.

A health worker takes the body temperature of an elderly man before a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a third dose vaccination campaign at South Tangerang Regional General Hospital in Tangerang, Indonesia on Jan 24, 2022. (TATAN SYUFLANA / AP)


Indonesia's food and drug authority BPOM has approved the emergency use authorization for Comirnaty as a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for the age group of 16 years and above.

Head of BPOM Penny K. Lukito told local media that the mRNA-platform vaccine, developed by Pfizer in collaboration with BioNTech, is the first vaccine to have received approval for a booster dose for this age group.

The third phase clinical trial on subjects aged 16 years and above showed the effectiveness of the booster vaccine with 95.6 percent efficacy in preventing the COVID-19 infection.

Comirnaty vaccine had received the emergency use approval from Indonesia as a primary vaccine for those aged 12 and above, and as a booster dose for the age group of 18 years and above.


More cases of COVID-19 are being recorded in Laos despite the government's efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The country recorded 66 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 211,441, according to a report on Wednesday by the Center of Information and Education for Health under the Lao Ministry of Health.

Lao capital Vientiane reported the highest number of new infections with 49, followed by the province of Bolikhamxay with eight cases and Savannakhet with two cases.

Director General of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion under the Lao Ministry of Health Phonepaseuth Ounaphom told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Wednesday that it was possible the number of cases was increasing because of the high number of Omicron sub-variant infections in Europe. This COVID-19 sub-variant is highly transmissible and foreign tourists are now returning to Laos.


Malaysia reported 4,204 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Tuesday, bringing the national total to 4,687,470, according to the health ministry.

There are three new imported cases, with 4,201 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

Another eight deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 35,985.

New Zealand

New Zealand recorded 6,440 new community cases of COVID-19 and 28 more deaths, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.

There have been 1,589 confirmed deaths attributable to COVID-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor since the pandemic began in New Zealand, the health ministry said.

Among the new COVID-19 cases reported over the last 24 hours, 270 cases have recently traveled overseas, it added.

A health worker inoculates a student with a dose of the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus at his school in Karachi on Jan 24, 2022. (ASIF HASSAN / AFP)


Pakistan reported 806 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the country's ministry of health said on Wednesday.

The overall tally of the infected people climbed to 1,556,445 across the country with the fresh cases, according to the data released by the ministry.

A total of 30,499 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with nine deaths over the last 24 hours, according to the ministry's statistics.

A health worker (right) walks past people queueing up for coronavirus swab tests outside a gymnasium in Manila on Jan 7, 2022. (STR / AFP)


The Philippines reported 2,646 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,782,822.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases slightly dropped to 32,099, and 12 additional patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 60,749.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a news conference that the country remains "low risk" and Metro Manila at "moderate risk."

Despite the continuous case increase, Vergeire said more than half of the country's hospital admissions remain asymptomatic and mild.

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 10,230 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 1,728,995.

Of the new cases, 659 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 9,571 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 632 were local transmissions and 27 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 9,244 local transmissions and 327 imported cases, respectively.

Four more deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 1,524, the ministry said.

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 2,017 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, up by 640 from Monday, according to its Ministry of Health.

Among the new cases, 2,000 were locally transmitted and the rest were imported.

The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 10,783,026. The country reported a new death from the pandemic in the central Binh Thuan province on Tuesday, bringing the total fatalities to 43,094.

As of Tuesday, there were 39 severe cases in need of assisted breathing in the Southeast Asian country, according to the ministry.