A photo taken on March 27, 2021 shows the logo on the facade of the new manufacturing site of German company BioNTech for the production of the vaccine against the coronavirus in Marburg, central Germany. (THOMAS LOHNES / AFP)
SYDNEY / MANILA / HANOI / SINGAPORE / YANGON / WELLINGTON / SEOUL / KUALA LUMPUR / NEW DELHI – BioNTech SE, the German biotech that developed a widely used COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer Inc, acquired a manufacturing facility in Singapore, its first in Asia, the company said on Monday.
The facility, bought from a Novartis unit, will be its first messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, facility in Singapore and support its vaccines production for the Asia Pacific region, BioNTech said in a statement, without disclosing financial details.
BioNTech said the facility, which will also double as its regional headquarters, will initially be used to make a range of mRNA-based product candidates as well as authorized vaccines and therapeutics, which may include its COVID-19 vaccine.
The aim is to eventually expand production to other drug classes such as cell therapies, said BioNTech, which also plans to set up research and manufacturing centres in Australia.
The Singapore facility is expected to be fully operational by 2023 and create more than 100 jobs by 2024.
Meanwhile, Singapore reported 1,501 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total tally to 2,140,099.
One new death from COVID-19 was reported on Sunday, bringing the total death toll to 1,695.
The Coral Princess cruise ship is seen docked at the International Terminal on Circular Quay in Sydney on July 13, 2022. (MUHAMMAD FAROOQ / AFP)
Australia's Home Affairs Minister on Saturday sought to reassure the public that COVID-19 protocols were adequate after a cruise ship with hundreds of infected passengers docked in Sydney.
Carnival Australia's Majestic Princess cruise ship was docked in Sydney, the capital of the most populous state, New South Wales, with "in the vicinity" of 800 passengers on board testing positive to the virus, the company said.
State health authorities rated the outbreak's risk level at "Tier 3", indicating a high level of transmission.
The incident has sparked comparisons with a notorious 2020 outbreak onboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship. That outbreak, also in New South Wales, led to 914 infections and 28 deaths, an inquiry found.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil said the authorities have created "regular protocols" in the wake of the Ruby Princess episode and that New South Wales Health would take the lead on determining how to get passengers off the Majestic Princess "on a case by case basis".
Federal border force officer will play a supplementary role to the state authorities, O'Neil told reporters in Melbourne.
Carnival Australia, part of global leisure company Carnival Corporation & plc, said COVID-positive passengers were isolating onboard and being cared for by medical staff, according to New South Wales Health. The agency said it was working with cruise ship staff to monitor the health of passengers and crew members.
Company president Marguerite Fitzgerald told ABC television that once Carnival saw an elevated number of COVID-19 cases, it put extra protocols in place.
The outbreak comes as COVID-19 cases rise across Australia, reflecting community transmission of the Omicron variant XBB, the federal government said this week.
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A security guard sanitizes the hands of students as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus at the entrance of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad on May 8, 2022. (SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)
India's daily COVID-19 caseload decreased to 547 on Monday, officials said.
According to federal health ministry data released on Monday morning, 547 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, bringing the total tally to 44,666,924 in the country.
The country also logged one more COVID-19-related death, taking the overall death toll to 530,532 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.
Malaysia reported 2,234 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Sunday, bringing the national total to 4,948,817, according to the health ministry.
There are two new imported cases, with 2,232 cases being local transmissions, data released by the ministry showed.
Another two deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 36,548.
A woman receives a shot of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Yangon, Myanmar, Aug 29, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Myanmar confirmed 44 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 632,679, according to the Ministry of Health on Sunday.
The ministry said in a statement that the health authorities tested 8,097 people for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, and the daily positivity rate was 0.54 percent.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the country remained unchanged at 19,486 on Sunday as no new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.
New Zealand recorded 21,595 new community cases of COVID-19 and 56 more deaths from the pandemic over the past week, the country's Ministry of Health said on Monday.
On average, new cases per day reached 3,079 in the last week. The country has seen the number of daily cases going down steadily from over 10,000 cases nationwide in early July.
With the fresh cases, New Zealand has reported 1,870,321 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,154 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020, the ministry said.
A man shops for face masks in Divisoria, a local shopping district in Manila on May 17, 2022. (JAM STA ROSA / AFP)
The Philippines reported 1,858 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday, pushing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 4,018,253.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases rose to 19,176, while five more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 64,387.
Metro Manila, the capital region with over 13 million people, tallied 349 new cases.
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South Korea reported 23,765 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 26,217,994, the health authorities said on Monday.
The daily caseload was down from 48,465 in the previous day, but it was higher than 18,665 tallied a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
For the past week, the daily average number of new cases was 51,594.
Forty-four more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 29,709.
Vietnam recorded 242 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, down 35 from Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health.
All the new cases were locally transmitted, said the ministry.
The new infections brought the total tally to 11,508,689. The country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Sunday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,166.