In this photo taken on May 18, 2020, Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin wears a face mask during the opening ceremony of the third term of the 14th parliamentary session in Kuala Lumpur. (PHOTO / AFP)
ADEN / SYDNEY / DUBAI / ANKARA / SEOUL / KUALA LUMPUR / HANOI — Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will observe a 14-day home quarantine after an official who attended a recent meeting he chaired tested positive for COVID-19, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement on Friday.
"The prime minister has chaired a post cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday, May 20, 2020," the statement said, "One official present at the meeting has been tested COVID-19 positive."
"The prime minister has undergone COVID-19 screening and was found to be negative," the statement said, adding that Muhyiddin will still have to observe a 14-day home quarantine starting Friday.
All other officials who attended the meeting are instructed to be tested and to observe home quarantine for a period of 14 days, it said.
Malaysia reported 78 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, pushing the national total to 7,137, according to the Health Ministry.
People walk along an alley at an open-air market in Yemeni city of Sanaa on May 20, 2020, as Muslims shop ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP)
Coronavirus is believed to be spreading throughout Yemen, where the health care system “has in effect collapsed”, the United Nations said on Friday, appealing for urgent funding.
Referring to aid agencies, Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told a Geneva briefing: “We hear from many of them that Yemen is really on the brink right now. The situation is extremely alarming, they are talking about that the health system has in effect collapsed.”
The United Naitons estimates that it will seek US$2 billion for Yemen to maintain aid programmes through year-end, he added.
Epidemiologists estimate that the virus could spread faster, more widely and with deadlier consequences in Yemen than in many other countries, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, quoting the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as saying.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen's government-controlled areas increased to 193 on Thursday, as 13 new cases were confirmed. Four deaths were also announced, taking the toll under the government-controlled areas to 33.
The Sanaa-based Houthi health authorities declared on May 16 that a total of four COVID-19 cases were recorded in its areas in northern Yemen, including one death.
Australia, after bringing its coronavirus outbreak largely under control, said on Friday it is seeking an exemption from a requirement that travellers arriving in the UK quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Birmingham said Australia has no plans to open its borders to non-citizens, while all returning locals will still have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
New South Wales will allow cafes and restaurants to have up to 50 patrons from June 1. State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the easing of restrictions, which currently limit restaurants and cafes to 10 patrons, was needed to revive the local economy.
Australia has recorded just over 7,000 cases, while the death count rose on Friday to 101 after authorities said a 80-year-old woman died from COVID-19. The unnamed woman contracted the virus in a Sydney hospital.
Bangladesh recorded 24 new COVID-19 fatalities Friday, the highest increase in a single day since the pandemic began in the country on March 8. The rise in deaths came a day after the country reported 22 COVID-19 fatalities.
Professor Nasima Sultana, a senior health ministry official, told an online media briefing in Dhaka that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 30,205, with the daily rise of 1,694 new cases reported in the last 24 hours as of 8:00 am local time on Friday.
The Cambodian Ministry of Health (MoH) said on late Thursday that one more person tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the kingdom to 123.
The new patient is a 26-year-old Cambodian man, who returned to the country Wednesday night from the Philippines, with a connecting flight in South Korea, the ministry said in a statement.
India's federal health ministry said Friday morning that 148 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 6,088 positive cases, were reported since Thursday in the country, taking the number of deaths to 3,583 and total cases to 118,447.
Mumbai has crossed the grim mark of 25,000 cases with 1,382 fresh cases of the COVID-19 reported late Thursday, as per the update by the city's governing authority.
India, which ranks 11th among all countries regarding the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, has Maharashtra and Mumbai constituting 37 percent and 22.5 percent respectively of the total cases in the country.
Iran on Thursday registered 66 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 7,249, the highest in the region. The total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iran surged to 129,341 after 2,392 new cases were reported.
In Iraq, 153 new cases of COVID-19 were registered, the highest daily increase so far, bringing the total number of infections to 3,877.
So far, 140 people have died from the virus in Iraq, while 2,483 others have recovered, the Iraqi health ministry said.
A stray cow passes by a migrant worker family from another state waiting to go back to their village under a flyover during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of new coronavirus in New Delhi, India, May 21, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)
Israel's Health Ministry reported zero coronavirus death case on Thursday for the first time since March 28. The ministry reported 18 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 16,683.
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda met in Tokyo, the finance ministry said on Friday, in a show of resolve to coordinate policies to combat the widening economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The rare bilateral meeting came hours after an emergency BOJ rate review at which the central bank decided to create a new loan scheme to channel more funds to small businesses hit by the coronavirus.
Kuwait reported 1,041 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 18,609 and the death toll to 129.
The Kuwaiti health ministry also announced the recovery of 320 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 5,205.
Kyrgyzstan's Health Ministry on Friday confirmed 37 new COVID-19 cases, raising its total number of infections to 1,350, including 14 deaths and 949 recoveries.
Among the newly infected, three are medical workers, taking the total number of medical workers diagnosed with COVID-19 to 273, Deputy Health Minister Nurbolot Usenbaev said at a daily briefing.
Lebanon's total number of COVID-19 infections increased by 63 cases to 1,024, the highest daily increase since the outbreak of the virus on Feb. 21.
The Lebanese cabinet approved on Thursday the extension of general mobilization until June 7 in an attempt to curb the number of daily infections.
Mongolia on Friday reported one more COVID-19 case, bringing the nationwide tally to 141, according to the National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD).
The latest patient is one of 347 Mongolian nationals who returned from Russia on May 13, the center's head Dulmaa Nyamkhuu said at a daily press conference.
In addition, two more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries in the country to 28, he added.
Mongolia will mark its national holiday of Naadam with a live broadcast on both television channels and social media amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the country's government press office reported on Friday.
The Nepali government has decided to seal off all the entry points to capital Kathmandu, barring the movement of people amid COVID-19 in the densely-populated city, officials at the Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs said.
The number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise in Nepal, with a dozen of COVID-19 cases reported in the capital city while nationwide infections stand at 457 as of Thursday evening, according to Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population.
New Zealand is considering distributing free cash directly to individuals as a way of policy stimulus to help boost the economy reeling from a COVID-19 pandemic driven contraction, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Friday.
At a regular news conference Robertson was asked to share details about the government’s plans for launching ‘helicopter money’ - whether it would be the central bank printing money and distributing it or the government increasing its borrowing and then handing it out.
The extra cash will be a boon for New Zealand’s export-reliant economy which is expected to contract a massive 21.8% in the current quarter due to the shock from the outbreak and tough measures to contain it.
New Zealand reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on Friday after four consecutive days of zero cases, with the combined total of confirmed and probable cases reaching 1,504, according to the Ministry of Health.
Malaysian health authorities on Friday reported 78 new coronavirus cases, raising the cumulative total to 7,137 cases.
The health ministry also reported one new death, bringing the total fatalities up to 115.
The Omani health ministry announced on Thursday 327 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the country to 6,370.
Meanwhile, 160 more patients of COVID-19 have recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 1,821, while the death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 30 after a new fatality was reported.
The ministry called on people to observe the procedures for quarantine, avoid public places or places of worship, and ensure public hygiene.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 50,694 with 1,067 deaths in Pakistan, according to the data updated by the country's health ministry Friday morning.
A total of 2,603 new cases and 50 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, the statistics revealed.
The country's southern Sindh province is the most affected region with 19,924 cases followed by eastern Punjab province with 18,455 cases.
The Pakistani government started to ease the lockdown from May 9, aiming at mitigating the influence of the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown on the labor class and the poor in the country. The domestic flight operations and train services in Pakistan have also been resumed partially.
Office workers wearing face masks commute to work in Bangkok, Thailand, May 21, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)
Palestine on Thursday rejected an anti-coronavirus aid shipment from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that arrived in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv earlier this week.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye explained that the shipment was not coordinated with the Palestinian side.
In the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip, 29 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the past three days, raising the total tally to 49 since March 5. All the new cases are Palestinians who recently returned home from Egypt or Israel.
Qatar's health ministry on Friday announced 1,830 new infections of COVID-19, increasing the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 40,481.
According to a ministry's statement quoted by the official Qatar News Agency, "605 people recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 7,893, while the fatalities rose to 19."
Most of the new cases are of expatriate workers who have been under quarantine after they were found to have contact with confirmed cases.
A total of 180,642 persons have undergone lab tests for COVID-19 so far in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia continued to be the country in the Middle East with the fastest rise in daily COVID-19 cases, with 2,532 new ones reported on Thursday, pushing up the total number to 65,077.
The kingdom also reported 12 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 351. The number of recoveries increased to 36,040 after 2,562 new ones were added.
Mosques will remain closed for prayers on the Eid Al-Fitr festival, Saudi and United Arab Emirates officials said on Friday, calling on the population to adhere to safety guidelines to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Eid, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, may fall on Saturday or Sunday in the Gulf region.
Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister Abdullatif al-Sheikh gave instructions not to have Eid prayers in mosques, Saudi state TV quoted him as saying.
In the UAE, the Dubai government’s media office said on Twitter that mosques will remain closed, and listed a series of Eid customs that should not be observed, including family visits and giving gifts or money to children.
Coronavirus cases in Singapore topped 30,000 on Friday as the city-state reports hundreds of new infections in cramped migrant worker dormitories every day.
The lowly paid workers represented the vast majority of the 614 new cases reported on Friday, a daily infection rate that is one of the highest in Asia, taking Singapore's total cases to 30,426. The death toll remains 22.
South Korea reported 20 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Friday local time, raising the total number of infections to 11,142.
Of the new cases, nine were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 1,200.
No more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 264. The total fatality rate stood at 2.37 percent.
Thailand will maintain its state of emergency over the coronavirus until the end of June, its COVID-19 task force said on Friday, in an effort to keep infections under control as the government prepares to ease restrictions further.
Shopping malls and department stores reopened at the weekend after almost two months of closure as the number of cases slowed, but bars, nightclubs, cinemas, playgrounds and some sports remain off-limits.
Thailand's total confirmed cases are 3,037, of which 56 were fatalities, with 2,910 recoveries.
The Philippines on Friday recorded 11 additional coronavirus deaths and 163 more infections, the lowest daily increase in cases in nearly two weeks, health ministry said.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total infections have increased to 13,597 while deaths have reached 857. But 92 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 9,648.
Turkey saw new signs of slowdown in the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday with 961 new infections reported, the second day that the country's daily infections fell below 1,000, after 972 cases were reported on Wednesday.
So far, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey climbed to 153,548, while the death toll surged to 4,249 after 27 more deaths were added, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted.
Turkey's exports of milk and other dairy products to China will resume, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said on Thursday, while its tourism sector is also looking forward to attracting Chinese tourists back to the country once the COVID-19 pandemic is fully contained.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday announced 894 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 26,898.
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention said 946 more patients fully recovered from the virus, taking the tally of recoveries to 12,755. Four more deaths were recorded, raising the country's death toll to 237.
Vietnam reported no new COVID-19 cases for the fourth consecutive day on Friday, and no local transmission of COVID-19 for 36 straight days, with its total confirmed cases remaining at 324, according to its Ministry of Health.
One more patient was confirmed to have recovered from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total cured cases to 267, said the ministry.
The Indonesia COVID-19 Task Force has offered relaxation of social restrictions to over 120 cities and districts which have not been infected by the COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to boost economy, chief of the task force said on Friday.
The COVID-19 Task Force's Chief Doni Monardo pointed out that a total of 124 cities and districts are actually eligible to broaden activities, especially those that support the people's efforts to address economic problems.
Still, he would listen to the stance of the authorities of the cities and districts on the offer, whether or not they would like it.
Monardo expected to receive their responses after the Muslims post-fasting festivity of Eid al-Fitr which is coming up on Sunday and Monday.
By Friday, the COVID-19 outbreak has killed 1,326 people and infected 20,796 others in Indonesia, the government's spokesman for the COVID-19 Related Matters Achmad Yurianto said.
The number of daily increase drifted down by 634 on Friday from a record of 973 a day earlier, according to him.
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