Singapore prepares to reopen as virus cases stabilize

An elderly resident arrives to get tested at a temporary swab centre set up at the void deck area on the ground floor of a public housing block, after a few positive COVID-19 cases were detected in the building, in Singapore on May 21, 2021. (Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

SEOUL / NEW DELHI / JAKARTA / TEHRAN / BAGHDAD / BEIRUT / KUALA LUMPUR / SUVA / ULAN BATOR / YANGON / WELLINGTON / SINGAPORE / ANKARA / HANOI – Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will tell the public “how we plan to keep COVID-19 under control, while progressively opening up again” in a speech Monday afternoon.

The solution moving forward will involve “testing, contact tracing, and vaccinating, all faster, and more,” Lee said in a Facebook post.

The solution moving forward will involve “testing, contact tracing, and vaccinating, all faster, and more,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post

Lee’s post struck a cautious but optimistic tone. He said coronavirus cases have stabilized in recent weeks after the city-state implemented strict curbs, including temporarily banning dining-in, limiting groups to a maximum of two and moving most school-learning online.

There were 19 new cases of locally-transmitted infections reported on Sunday, with six currently unlinked to known clusters.

Yet each round of closures comes with economic risks for an economy built as a trade hub. Singapore recently announced S$800 million (US$605 million) in additional support for businesses and individuals affected by restrictions imposed this month.

The government has said it sees maximum vaccination as a key to unlocking a more open future in a world where COVID-19 won’t immediately disappear, and plans to offer every eligible person at least their first dose of the vaccine by the end of August.


Australia’s Victoria state reported five new local cases over the past 24 hours, matching the number of new infections recorded the previous day. There was also one new infection from overseas. The number of active coronavirus cases stands at 49, the Victorian government said on Twitter.

The state entered a seven-day lockdown Friday to tackle a small but growing cluster of infections. A surge in demand for vaccinations in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, has led to long queues for residents seeking to be inoculated.

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The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 6,565 within one day to 1,809,926, with the death toll adding by 162 to 50,262, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

According to the ministry, 5,417 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 1,659,974.


Fiji confirmed 23 new positive COVID-19 cases on Sunday night, bringing the total tally to 401 in the Pacific island nation.

The Fijian health ministry also reported additional 18 cases on Saturday.

Of the 41 new cases, 16 were from the Fiji Navy cluster, 12 from the Waila cluster, nine from the Narere cluster and two others from Nadi, Fiji's third largest city.

Fiji has reported 331 new infections since the second outbreak of COVID-19 started in April this year, with more than 60,000 tests being conducted.

A health worker inoculates a man with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus, at a vaccination center in Mumbai on May 29, 2021. (SUJIT JAISWAL / AFP)


India's COVID-19 tally reached 27,894,800 on Sunday, with 165,553 new cases added during the past 24 hours, said the federal health ministry.

A steep decline in daily pandemic cases has been witnessed in the past three weeks, as new cases per day have come down from over 400,000 as recorded on May 9.

Besides, as many as 3,460 deaths since Saturday morning took the death toll to 325,972.

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There are still 2,114,508 active cases in the country, as there was a decrease of 114,216 cases in the past 24 hours. The number of daily active cases has been on the decline over the past few days, after a continuous surge since mid-April.

The COVID-19 lockdown in the Indian capital region has been extended for another week until June, the government has announced.

However, the restrictions have been eased for two sectors – manufacturing and construction businesses, the government said on Saturday.


Iran on Saturday reported 7,107 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country's total infections to 2,893,218.

The pandemic has so far claimed 79,741 lives in Iran, up by 173 in the past 24 hours, the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education said.


Iraq's Ministry of Health on Saturday reported 3,257 new COVID-19 cases during the past 24 hours, raising the nationwide caseload to 1,193,608.

The ministry also confirmed 23 new deaths, bringing the death toll from the virus to 16,334, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 5,425 to 1,107,101.


Lebanese caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan launched on Saturday a "marathon" day for COVID-19 vaccination, prompting thousands of Lebanese to flock to hospitals to get vaccinated, the National News Agency reported.

The move aims at encouraging people to get vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine after news about concerns over rare instances of blood clots.


Malaysia is planning to set up more mega vaccination centres and get private doctors to join immunisation efforts, after five consecutive days of record daily coronavirus infections.

Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told a virtual news briefing on Sunday that the government will set up another five mega vaccination centres around the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and are considering two in the northen state of Penang and in the southern state of Johor.

The government will also train general practitioners to administer COVID-19 vaccines, he said, noting some vaccines need to be handled and stored differently than usual vaccines.

“Before this, there was no need (to involve the private healthcare sector) because the vaccine supply was not a lot. As the supply increases, we want to facilitate private clinics, (general practitioner) clinics, private hospitals to roll out the vaccines via our programme, for free,” he said.

Malaysia reported 6,999 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total infections in the country to 565,533.

New cases and deaths rose to records on Saturday.


Mongolia's COVID-19 tally rose by 891 to 57,512 in the past 24 hours, the country's health ministry said Sunday.

The ministry said that the latest cases were local infections, and that 7,837 samples were tested in the past day across the country.

Meanwhile, Mongolia's total death toll reached 286 with four new fatalities, and 434 more people have recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 49,754, according to the ministry.


Myanmar's Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment for COVID-19 on Saturday announced extension of the period for preventive measures against the pandemic to June 30.

The extension will be applied to all orders, announcements, directives previously issued by the respective union level government organizations and ministries in order to contain the spread of the disease, the announcement said.

According to a release from the Health and Sports Ministry, the number of COVID-19 infections rose to 143,526 in the country on Saturday.

New Zealand

New Zealand reported two new cases of COVID-19, said the Ministry of Health in a statement on Sunday.

The two new cases of COVID-19 were recent returnees in managed isolation facilities since the ministry's last update on Friday, while there was no new case of COVID-19 to report in the wider New Zealand community, said the ministry.

South Korea

South Korea’s Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Sunday that 1 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) coronavirus vaccines will arrive this week, including for 550,000 soldiers, after the United States almost doubled its earlier pledge.

US President Joe Biden, at his first summit with President Moon Jae-in earlier this month, promised to supply shots for 550,000 South Korean troops. The two agreed to forge a vaccine partnership to boost regional and global supplies.

South Korean Olympic table tennis team member Lee Sang-su receives the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Chung Sung-Jun / POOL / AFP)

Kim said the shipment of the J&J vaccines had doubled since the summit and will arrive this week, thanking the Biden administration for showing its commitment to the bilateral alliance.

“We plan to administer the vaccines on military-related personnel, including reserve forces and the civil defence corps, after airlifting them directly from the United States using military planes,” Kim told an intra-agency meeting.


Thailand reported 4,528 new infections, among the country’s highest daily caseloads during the pandemic, and 24 deaths as the latest outbreak showed few signs of slowing.

Of the daily total, 1,902 infections were from people in prisons, the government said Sunday. New daily cases in Thailand reached a record 9,635 – most of them from prison clusters – earlier this month.

A health personnel inoculates a woman with the second dose of China's Sinovac COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine in the hall of the Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok on May 29, 2021. (Romeo GACAD / AFP)

The Philippines

The Philippines reported 7,058 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 1.225 million. Deaths rose by 139 to 20,860, according to the health department. On Saturday, a health official said the cases in metro Manila and nearby provinces are on the decline, while those in central and southern Philippines are rising. President Rodrigo Duterte will soon announce movement restriction classifications for June.


Turkey on Saturday confirmed 7,656 new COVID-19 cases, including 605 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 5,235,978, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 137 to 47,271, while the total recoveries climbed to 5,094,279 after 11,180 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours.


Vietnam’s business hub Ho Chi Minh City will begin social distancing measures for 15 days starting from May 31 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the country’s government said on Sunday.

The city has seen a spike in cases related to a religious mission that has recorded at least 125 positive tests, accounting for most of the city’s infections, according to a government statement.

“All events that gather more than 10 people in public are banned city-wide, but the city is considering to lower the number of people to just five,” the government said.

Vietnam reported 52 new COVID-19 cases from 6 p.m. local time Saturday to 6 am Sunday, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 6,908, according to the Ministry of Health.

The new infections, which are all community transmissions, include 35 in the northern epidemic hotspot Bac Giang province, six in the nearby northern Bac Ninh province, 10 in the southern Ho Chi Minh City, and one in the northern Hai Phong city.

All of them are contacts of previously confirmed patients or linked to the clusters of infections in the localities.