People wearing face masks visit Sensoji temple in Tokyo on June 28, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)
SYDNEY / JAKARTA / JERUSALEM / RAMALLAH / ANKARA / SEOUL / WELLINGTON / NEW DELHI / DOHA / KABUL / BANGKOK / MANILA / COLOMBO / TOKYO - The Japanese government on Monday said it will not yet declare another state of emergency despite a recent spike in daily COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and an uptick in infections nationwide.
Japan's top government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing that the recent spike in cases, particularly in Tokyo, did not necessitate the government issuing a new state of emergency over the virus outbreak at this juncture.
Suga's remarks followed concerns that business closures may be requested again by prefectural governments and restrictions on people's travels across prefectural borders, just recently lifted, may be reimposed.
His remarks were also with regard to the Tokyo metropolitan government on Sunday reporting the highest daily infection tally since the state of emergency was lifted on May 25, at 60 new cases in the capital of 14 million people.
The Japanese government also said that it will add another 18 countries and regions including Algeria, Cuba and Iraq to its entry ban list in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Starting from Wednesday, foreign travelers who have been to the countries or regions within 14 days of their arrival in Japan will be denied entry in principle, the government said.
These new additions are mainly in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, where the numbers of COVID-19 cases are increasing.
Japan will also maintain other border control measures such as suspension of visa issuance by its embassies in the listed countries and regions until the end of July.
Indonesia reported 1,082 new coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the total number of infections to 55,092, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.
The Southeast Asian nation also recorded 51 more deaths on Monday, raising the death toll to 2,805, the highest in East Asia outside China.
According to him, 864 more patients were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries to 23,800.
President Joko Widodo has told his cabinet he is ready to reshuffle ministers or even disband government agencies that he feels have not done enough to fight the coronavirus outbreak, according to his office.
Widodo made the remarks in a cabinet meeting on June 18, the video of which was released by his office on Sunday. The president also complained to his ministers of slow government spending in the face of a dire global economic outlook.
Afghanistan on Monday reported 271 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's tally to 31,238, the Ministry of Public Health confirmed.
Twelve more deaths were registered, raising the death toll to 733.
The number of recoveries rose by 1,330 to 13,934.
Australia's second most populous state said on Monday it was considering reimposing social distancing restrictions after the country reported its biggest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in more than two months.
Victoria has recorded 75 more cases in the past 24 hours, health authorities announced, making it Australia's biggest daily outbreak since April 11. The surge in cases in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, has been centered around suburbs in the city’s northern and western fringes. The state is hoping a new saliva test, which is less intrusive, will encourage more people to get tested - even though it is slightly less accurate.
Australian authorities have denied that the nation is in the midst of a "second wave" of COVID-19 despite an outbreak in Victoria. The Australian government's Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan said the spike in cases was "a community outbreak in one part of the city".
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said the reopening of state borders will support jobs growth despite the fresh outbreak.
Morrison has called on states to continue easing restrictions, insisting the country's economy can not remained idled. He ruled out a blanket extension of a A$60 billion (US$41.1 billion) wage subsidy scheme beyond its scheduled end in September.
Australia has so far reported around 7,800, including 104 deaths.
Bangladesh reported more than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the tally in the country to nearly 142,000.
Senior Health Ministry official Nasima Sultana said in a briefing Monday afternoon that "4,014 new COVID-19 positive cases and 45 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh".
"The number of confirmed infections in the country totaled 141,801 while fatalities stood at 1,783," she said.
The total number of recoveries rose by 2,053 to 57,780.
India's federal health ministry said Monday morning that 380 more COVID-19 deaths and 19,459 new cases were reported across the country, taking the death toll to 16,475 and the number of confirmed cases to 548,318.
According to officials, 321,723 patients have so far been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement. The number of active cases in the country right stood at 210,120, according to the health ministry.
Mumbai police on Sunday urged people to restrict their outdoor travel for essential activities within a 2-km radius of their homes to curb the COVID-19 spread as the lockdown in the city was further extended beyond June 30. Mumbai is the worst affected city in India with over 28,000 active cases and 4,284 deaths.
Earlier in the day, India's western state of Maharashtra, which has Mumbai as its political capital, extended its three-month lockdown that was due to end on June 30.
Health workers arrive to administer a medical camp at a slum in Mumbai, India, June 28, 2020. (RAFIQ MAQBOOL / AP)
Amid increasing infections and fatalities from COVID-19 after the partial lifting of the lockdown, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday said that wearing face masks in public areas will become mandatory from next week.
"From July 5, wearing masks in all public areas will be compulsory for two weeks," Rouhani said at a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus.
If necessary, the new decision will remain in force for the next month, he was quoted as saying by official IRNA news agency.
Iran's confirmed novel coronavirus cases rose to 225,205 on Monday after an overnight registration of 2,536 new infections, official IRNA news agency reported.
At her daily briefing, Sima Sadat Lari, the spokeswoman for Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said out of the new cases in the past 24 hours, 14,061 have been hospitalized.
The pandemic has so far claimed the lives of 10,670 Iranians, up by 162 in the past 24 hours, she said.
Besides, 186,180 have recovered and been discharged from hospitals while 3,037 remain in critical condition.
The number of coronavirus active cases in Israel has risen to 6,363, the highest since May 2, the state's Ministry of Health said on Sunday.
The ministry also reported 334 new cases, bringing the overall tally to 23,755.
The death toll rose from 317 to 318 while the number of patients in serious condition fell from 41 to 39.
Kyrgyzstan's tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 5,017 after 269 new cases were registered on Monday.
Deputy Health Minister Nurbolot Usenbaev said that among the new cases, nine were imported while the remaining 260 are contacts of earlier confirmed cases.
The number of recoveries rose by 52 to 2,294 while the death toll increased by three to 50.
Kuwait on Monday reported 582 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 45,524 and the death toll to 350, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The new cases included 319 Kuwaiti nationals, the statement said.
Currently, 8,861 patients are receiving treatment, including 145 in ICU, according to the statement.
The ministry also announced the recovery of 819 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 36,313.
Laos has conducted COVID-19 test on 14,907 cases since January, with 19 of them positive, according to a Ministry of Health report on Monday.
All of the 19 confirmed cases have been discharged from hospitals.
On Sunday, a total of 1,665 people entered Laos through international border checkpoint. The temperature of each person entering Laos was checked and no one showed signs of fever.
The National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control announced it has been monitoring 3,295 people at 89 accommodation centers across the country.
Lebanon's tally of COVID-19 cases on Sunday increased by 21 cases to 1,740, the National News Agency reported.
The death toll went up by one to 34, the news agency said.
Mongolia's National Center for Communicable Disease (NCCD) on Monday confirmed one new COVID-19 case, bringing the country's tally to 220.
All the 220 cases were imported, mostly from Russia, according to the NCCD. Among them, 175 patients have recovered so far.
New Zealand reported on Monday two new COVID-19 cases, who have recently returned from overseas, bringing the total number of active cases in the country to 22, according to the country's Ministry of Health.
Both of the new cases are now in quarantine in Auckland, according a ministry statement.
The addition of the new cases pushed the country's tally to 1,178, with 22 deaths.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more work needed to be done for an agreement on a trans-Tasman bubble for safe travel to Australia. She said in a news conference the cabinet will not move to open the border with Australia until it has reassurances that New Zealanders will be safe. More broadly, she said it is untenable to be opening up the border to COVID-19.
Palestine on Sunday announced that 195 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, raising the country's tally to 2,248.
According to Health Minister Mai al-Kaila, 621 patients have recovered and seven have died.
Hebron, the hardest-hit district in the West Bank, has registered nearly 60 percent of all the cases, al-Kaila said, warning of hundreds of uncovered cases in the district. The Health Ministry said special measures will be taken in the district, including redirecting non-urgent medical cases and surgeries, suspending outpatient clinics at hospitals and dedicating them to handle the outbreak of the novel coronavirus patients in the area.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines soared to 36,438 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 985 new cases on Monday.
The DOH said in its bulletin that the number of recoveries further rose to 9,956 after 270 more patients recovered.
The death toll increased to 1,255 after 11 more deaths were registered, the DOH added.
Qatar aims to further ease coronavirus curbs from July 1, allowing the limited reopening of restaurants, beaches and parks, as infections have passed their peak and the rate was subsiding, authorities said.
Qatar's health ministry on Monday announced 693 new infections of COVID-19, increasing the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 95,106.
"Some 1,468 people recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 80,170, while three others died, raising the fatalities to 113," the official Qatar News Agency reported, quoting a statement by the ministry.
In a statement late on Sunday, the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management said restaurants would reopen at limited capacity from July 1, as would public beaches and parks. Public and private gatherings of a maximum of five people will be allowed, while employees in the public and private sector can work from office at 50 percent capacity, it added.
In a third phase of relaxation, scheduled from Aug 1, it will permit flights from low-risk countries to resume, and reopen shopping malls and markets.
Saudi Arabia's tally of coronavirus cases rose on Sunday to 182,493 after 3,989 new infections were reported.
The death toll increased by 40 to 1,551, the health ministry tweeted.
In the last 24 hours, 2,627 more recoveries were registered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 124,755.
Singapore's Ministry of Health reported 213 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 43,459.
Out of the new cases, 93 percent are linked to known clusters while the rest are pending contact tracing.
In all, 37,508 people have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities, the ministry said.
The country has reported 26 deaths from COVID-19 so far.
A visitor wearing a face mask walks near a screen displaying precautions against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, June 28, 2020. (LEE JIN-MAN / AP)
South Korea's health authorities called on Monday for citizens to stagger vacation schedules ahead of the holiday season and avoid gatherings at workplaces and religious facilities, as coronavirus infections from small clusters persist.
South Korea reported 42 new cases of the COVID-19 as of 0:00 am Monday local time, raising the total number of infections to 12,757, with 282 deaths.
President Moon Jae-in expressed concerns about the persistent infections ahead of the summer holiday season, calling for strict steps to prevent the virus. He urged people to stagger breaks and avoid crowded attractions.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Jeong Eun-kyeong warned against small religious gatherings. He noted that about 1,600 members of a Christian church in southern Seoul are undergoing a check after one attendee was confirmed to have contracted the virus, and 28 of them have tested positive so far.
More than 1,200 people have been placed under a 14-day quarantine in Sri Lanka for failing to wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sickened more than 2,000 people to date in the country, the police said on Monday.
Police said 1,217 people were arrested from the Western province for failing to wear masks in public places over the weekend.
Sri Lanka has so far reported 2,037 confirmed cases, of which 1,678 have recovered and 11 have died.
On Sunday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office announced that a night curfew was lifted completely as the outbreak has been contained.
Sri Lankan authorities have decided to delay the re-opening of the country's international airport to foreign tourists till all local nationals are repatriated from overseas, local media reported here Monday.
Reports quoting Chairman of the Airport and Aviation Services Major General G A Chandrasiri said that although the government had initially decided to re-open the airports on Aug 1 to foreign tourists, the country's priority was to complete repatriating Sri Lankans from overseas before the airport is re-opened for tourists.
A motorcycle taxi driver waits for customers at Khao San Road, empty of tourists due to restrictions on the entry by foreigners into Thailand due to COVID-19, in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 16, 2020. (LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)
Thailand will allow all schools, nightclubs and bars to reopen in the country’s fifth stage of reopening, Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesman for the COVID-19 center, said at a briefing. The nightclubs and bars will be subject to restrictions on the numbers of patrons and closing hours.
Meanwhile, foreigners with work permits, residency and families in Thailand will be able to enter the country, but will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. Taweesin said foreigners seeking certain types of medical treatment such as some cosmetic surgery or fertility treatment could also be allowed into the country.
Business visitors from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the Chinese mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region could also be exempted from a two-week quarantine period under a fast track entry if they have certificates to show they were free from COVID-19 and were tested upon arrival.
Thailand plans to extend its state of emergency to manage risks as the country prepares for the latest reopening, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said on Monday.
The country on Monday reported seven new cases, all of which were imported, marking 35 days without community transmission. So far, the country has reported 3,169 confirmed cases, with 58 deaths and 3,053 recoveries.
Turkey's confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by 1,356 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 197,239, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Sunday.
Koca tweeted that 15 more people have died, raising the death toll to 5,097.
The health minister said that the number of recoveries rose by 1,413 to 170,595.
Vietnam's Ministry of Health on Sunday reported zero new COVID-19 cases.
The total number of confirmed cases stood at 355, with zero deaths reported so far.
Meanwhile, as many as 330 patients in the country have recovered from the disease, said the ministry.
Malaysia reported another three new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the national total to 8,637, the Health Ministry said.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press briefing that one of the new cases is imported and two more are local transmissions.
Another 16 cases have been discharged, bringing the total cured and discharged to 8,334 or 96.5 percent of all cases.
Among the 182 remaining active cases, four are being held in intensive care and one is in need of assisted breathing. No new deaths had been reported, leaving the total deaths at 121.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered his government on Monday to prepare a package of coronavirus restrictions similar to the hard lockdown that the Central Asian nation imposed in March-May after a recent sharp rise in infections.
Tokayev gave his cabinet two days to draft the new measures and scolded senior officials, formally reprimanding a few, for botching the reopening and allowing the outbreak to resurge in the country of 19 million.
Tokayev ordered officials to boost the number of available hospital beds by 50 percent within a month, deploy mobile laboratories to make tests more widely available and prepare for a long-term pandemic.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has skyrocketed to almost 38,000 from about 5,000 at the time the former Soviet republic started lifting the nationwide lockdown in mid-May. Deaths have surged to 183 from 32 over the same period.
Syria on Monday reported 13 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 269 in the country, the health ministry said.
The ministry said 102 people have recovered and nine died.
The Syrian government has eased the measures taken against the COVID-19, urging people to undertake protective measures in their daily interactions
The Iraqi Health Ministry on Monday said that 1,749 new COVID-19 cases are detected, bringing the total infections to 47,151, while up to 1,852 recoveries were registered during the day.
The ministry also confirmed 83 more deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 1,839 in the country.
It also said that 1,852 people recovered during the day, bringing the total recoveries from the disease to 22,974.
HONG KONG NEWS