Residents wait to be tested at a makeshift rapid testing cente as Vietnam records a rise in cases of the COVID-19 in Hanoi on July 31, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)
MELBOURNE / JERUSALEM / ADEN / KUWAIT CITY / DHAKA / TEHRAN / KUALA LUMPUR- Vietnam recorded its first death from COVID-19 on Friday after winning plaudits worldwide for one of the most successful pandemic responses to containing the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The country of 96 million had gone 100 days without infection before an unexpected cluster of new cases surfaced in the central and popular resort city of Danang a week ago.
Vietnam’s health ministry on Friday reported 45 new infections in the city, marking the Southeast Asian country’s biggest single-day jump in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
The capital, Hanoi, has started mass coronavirus testing, shut bars and nightclubs, banned large gatherings, and urged tens of thousands of domestic travellers to report to authorities as the country scrambled to contain the fresh spread of the virus.
Patient 428, a 70-year-old man who appears to have contracted the disease in Danang, died on Friday, the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) said.
The 45 latest patients, aged between 27 and 87, are linked to three hospitals and two clinics in Danang, according to the health ministry, which overnight sent a special task force of health experts, along with more than 1,000 health workers, to the city to help handle the deteriorating situation there.
The task force includes 65 health experts who had previously helped fight coronavirus at other epicentres in Vietnam, the ministry said.
Authorities in Danang are building a 1,000-bed field hospital to ease the burden on the city’s hospitals, four of which are under lockdown following a series of cases there.
The newly confirmed infections in Danang have lifted the total number of cases in Vietnam to 509.
Some experts say Vietnam could be paying for complacency after its initial success stopping the virus, with normal service quickly resuming, facemasks used less and domestic travel activity surging.
Danang had been inundated with visitors taking advantage of promotions to revitalise a tourism sector hurt by border closures and international flight bans designed to stamp out the virus.
The current wave is traced to Danang, but the source is unclear.
A medic takes a nasal swab from a man at a drive-through testing centre for the COVID-19 in Sydney on July 30, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)
Australia’s Victoria state recorded its second-highest day of new coronavirus infections on Friday, one day after logging record deaths, as the state’s leader flagged the prospect of more rigorous steps to contain the spread of the disease.
Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is under a reimposed six-week lockdown, reported 627 new infections on Friday, down from a record of 723 new infections on Thursday. Eight people died, including two men in their fifties, down from a record of 14 also recorded on Thursday.
The state now accounts for more than half of the country’s 198 deaths from the novel coronavirus and about 60 percent of the nation’s 16,900 cases. The majority of Victoria’s fresh cases are in Melbourne, Australia’s second biggest city.
Australian Defence Force and health officials are door-knocking every positive COVID-19 case in the state but have found one in four people not at home. Those people have been referred to police, and may face a A$1,652 fine.
“If you have got this virus, you’ve got to stay at home,” Andrews said.
Victoria, which is due to come out of lockdown on August 19, is embarking on detailed analysis of transmission trends which will guide any new restrictions.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the larger spike in cases in Melbourne remained a challenge, although added he was confident a coronavirus flare-up in Sydney, the country’s biggest city, was under control.
Morrison said New South Wales had contained the spread of the virus from outbreaks at pubs, restaurants and aged care homes around Sydney thanks mainly to much better contact tracing than in Victoria. New South Wales recorded 21 new cases overnight.
Morrison urged Muslims who will be celebrating the Eid al-Adha festival starting on Friday to stay away from big gatherings. Some of Victoria’s outbreaks since June have been linked to family gatherings after the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Bangladesh reported 2,772 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total to over 237,000.
Nasima Sultana, a senior Health Ministry official, said in a briefing in Dhaka that "2,772 new COVID-19 positive cases and 28 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh."
She said the number of confirmed infections in the country totaled 237,661 while fatalities stood at 3,111.
Meanwhile, she mentioned that the COVID-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh is now 1.31 percent against the total number of detected cases so far in the country.
According to the official, 12,614 samples were tested in the last 24 hours in labs across the country.
Tokyo could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus situation in the Japanese capital deteriorates further, its governor warned on Friday, as debate deepened over how to respond to record increases in new infections.
Yuriko Koike said Tokyo had confirmed 463 new cases on Friday - another single-day record - and implored residents to follow health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus.
“If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike told a news conference.
“We’re entering the summer vacation period when people normally make plans for travel and events but unfortunately, this summer will be different from a normal year.”
Koike’s comments echoed those made just three months ago when she asked residents to stay home during the late April-early May Golden Week holidays, as Japan was under a nationwide state of emergency.
The government lifted that emergency in late May after Japan appeared to have contained the outbreak, touting its mask-wearing habits and health system as some of the factors that helped it fare better than Europe and the United States.
But the virus has made a worrying resurgence, particularly in the past week, just as the government launched its controversial Go To Travel subsidy campaign aimed at reviving its domestic tourism industry.
Nationwide, the total number of cases increased to 35,461, including around 700 from a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February.
The death toll from the virus stands at 1,020.
Iran's confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 304,204 on Friday after an overnight registration of 2,674 new infections, official IRNA news agency reported.
During her daily briefing, Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said out of the new cases in the past 24 hours, 1,523 were hospitalized.
The pandemic has so far claimed the lives of 16,766 Iranians, up by 197 in the past 24 hours, she said.
So far, 263,519 have recovered and been discharged from hospitals and 4,021 remain in critical condition.
Israel's Ministry of Health on Thursday reported 1,737 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total infections to 70,036.
The death toll from the coronavirus in Israel soared to 500, with the addition of nine deaths, the ministry said.
It also reported 10,743 new recoveries, the highest daily figure since the pandemic outbreak in late February, raising the tally of recoveries in Israel to 43,489.
The number of active cases in Israel decreased to 26,047, it added.
Kuwait on Friday reported 428 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 66,957 and the death toll to 447, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Currently, 8,578 patients are receiving treatment, including 134 in ICU, the statement added.
The ministry also announced the recovery of 602 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 57,932.
Kuwait started on July 28 the third-phase plan of restoring normal life.
During the third phase, labor capacity will increase to no more than 50 percent and visits to social care homes will be allowed.
Kuwait and China have been supporting each other and cooperating closely in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kuwait donated medical supplies worth 3 million U.S. dollars to China at the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak.
On April 27, a team of Chinese medical experts visited Kuwait to assist the Gulf country's anti-coronavirus fight, through sharing their experience and expertise in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
Malaysia reported another 12 new COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry said on Friday, bringing the national total to 8,976.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement that five of the cases are imported and seven more are local transmissions.
One more death has been reported, with the victim having suffered from prior health problems before becoming infected, pushing the total deaths to 125.
Another 27 cases have been released, bringing the total cured and discharged to 8,644 or 96.3 percent of all cases.
Of the remaining 207 active cases, three are being held in intensive care and one is in need of assisted breathing.
The official also reminded the public to observe the standard operating procedures (SOP) and guidelines laid out by the government to ensure that the Eid al-Adha festival, which started Friday, would proceed safely.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen's government-controlled provinces increased to 1,726 on Thursday, as 15 new cases were confirmed.
The Yemeni Health Ministry said in a brief press statement that during the past 24 hours, the number of recoveries in the government-controlled areas increased to 856 since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on April 10.
Also, the government announced that the death toll from the deadly respiratory disease climbed to 487 in different areas under its control, including the southern port city of Aden.
Palestine on Thursday said that 380 cases were confirmed in its territory, bringing the total number of cases since March 5 to 14,838.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said that two Palestinians died from the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 84.
Out of the total confirmed cases, 6,289 have recovered, including 6,219 in the West Bank and 70 in Gaza, said the ministry.
It added that there are 8,465 currently active cases under medical observation.
According to its latest report, World Health Organization said that the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase in the West Bank with an average of 402 new cases daily since July 1.
As a result of the significant climb in cases, the Palestinian government has declared further restriction on movement during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, to avoid social gatherings and potential contraction of the disease.
Turkey confirmed 967 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the total infections to 229,891, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Meanwhile, 15 people died from the deadly respiratory virus in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 5,674, Koca tweeted.
Turkish health professionals conducted 43,236 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests to 4,754,331, he said.
A total of 982 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, raising the total recoveries to 213,539 in Turkey since the outbreak, Koca added.
Jordan on Thursday decided to extend the working hours to 1:00 am local time every day for all economic sectors during Eid al-Adha, and the decision will be implemented from Thursday.
Jordanian Minister of Industry and Trade Tariq Hammouri said in a statement the decision was taken in coordination with the private sector to enable the public to buy their needs during the festival, and the curfew on movement will start from 2:00 am until 6:00 am.
Jordan's Health Ministry said four cases of coronavirus were reported in the country, increasing the tally to 1,191.
The ministry added that 23 persons recovered, increasing the overall number of recoveries to 1,072.
Lebanon's number of COVID-19 infections increased on Thursday by 129 cases to 4,334 while death toll went up by two to 57, the health ministry reported.
Head of the Parliamentary Health Committee Assem Araji said Thursday that Lebanon is in a "very bad" situation and the cabinet needs to allocate more funds for the health sector to fight against COVID-19 and offer its services to all patients.
"The finance minister has already allocated 100 billion Lebanese pounds (66 million U.S. dollars) for the sector but we are waiting for the sum of 450 billion Lebanese pounds which was approved by the parliament," he said.
He also urged the cabinet to agree with the World Bank on subsidized loans to assist the health sector.
The Qatari health ministry on Thursday announced 307 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 110,460, official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
Meanwhile, 286 more recovered from the virus, bringing the total recoveries to 107,135, while the death toll increased by two to 171, according to a ministry statement quoted by QNA.
A total of 492,569 persons in Qatar have taken lab tests for COVID-19 so far.
Armenia on Thursday reported 259 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing its total to 38,196, according to the National Center for Disease Control.
Data from the center showed that 542 more patients have recovered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 28,366.
Meanwhile, five people died in the period, raising the death toll to 728.
The United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday announced 302 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 60,223.
UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention said in a statement that 424 more patients recovered from the virus, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 53,626.
It also confirmed two more deaths, pushing the country's death toll to 349.
The UAE was the first among the Gulf countries to report COVID-19 cases.
India recorded the highest ever single-day spike of 55,078 of fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the total tally to 1,638,870, according to the federal health ministry's latest data.
This is the second consecutive day when fresh COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 50,000.
As many as 779 people died during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the total deaths to 35,747, said the ministry's data.
India is currently the third most COVID-affected country in the world, after the United States and Brazil, and the worst-affected in Asia.
There are still 545,318 active cases admitted in hospitals in the country, while 1,057,805 people have been cured and discharged.
The recent spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases is mainly attributed to the increased testing of samples. Over 18.8 million samples have been tested so far across the country.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 18,832,970 samples have been tested till July 30, with as many as 642,588 samples tested on Thursday alone. Efforts are being made to ramp up the per day testing of samples to over one million, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi a couple of days ago.
The country will enter the Unlock-3 phase from Saturday. As per the fresh guidelines, schools and educational institutions will continue to remain shut till Aug 31. Restrictions on movement of individuals during night (or night curfew) have been removed.
Yoga institutes and gymnasiums will be allowed to open in the first week of August.
Federal health ministry Thursday said India cannot count on herd immunity to stop the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic given its demography and scale, instead, it will have to rely on a vaccine.
Lao Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday has released a notice urging everyone to continue to take precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic, even as many lockdown measures were lifted.
Under the notice, which will be in effect from Saturday to August 31, authorities and people countrywide must remain vigilant and continue to abide by measures determined by the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
To ensure that the government is able to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus, authorities have decided to keep entertainment venues such as karaoke bars closed.
Myanmar's Foreign Affairs Ministry Thursday announced the extension of effective period of temporary entry restrictions for foreign visitors to Aug. 31 as part of containment measures against COVID-19.
The extension will also be applied to other restrictions such as suspension of all types of visas including social visit visas and visa exemption services, the ministry's announcement said.
Foreign nationals including diplomats wishing to visit Myanmar for urgent official missions or compelling reasons are asked to contact the Myanmar mission for possible exception to certain visa restrictions.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 278 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 51,809.
Of the new cases, four are imported cases, four are community cases and the rest are linked with the dormitories of foreign workers.
Of the new cases, 99 percent are linked to known clusters, while the rest are pending contact tracing.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday extended coronavirus restrictions in the capital Manila until mid-August and said the country would be given priority by China if supplies of a vaccine became available.
The Philippines this month recorded Southeast Asia’s biggest daily jump in coronavirus deaths and biggest single-day increase in confirmed infections.
The capital region, provinces south of it, and cities in central Philippines were placed under general community quarantine, limiting movement of elderly and children, and the capacity of business establishments.
“My plea is to endure some more. Many have been infected,” Duterte said in a televised address.
Duterte promised free vaccines if they became available by late this year, prioritising first the poor and then the middle class, police and military personnel. The Philippines will be given precedence by China in vaccine distribution, he said.
Several pharmaceutical companies from China, the United States and the United Kingdom are conducting late-stage trials on vaccines.
The Philippines planned to buy 40 million doses worth US$400 million for 20 million people, around a fifth of the country’s 107 million population, said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
“Once the vaccine is available I am sure can fully open,” Dominguez said.
The Philippines has Southeast Asia’s second-highest number of coronavirus infections after Indonesia, with cases jumping nearly five-fold to 89,374 and deaths more than doubling to 1,983 since a tough lockdown was eased in June.
South Korea reported 36 more cases of COVID-19 as of 0:00 a.m. Friday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 14,305.
The daily caseload doubled after posting 18 in the previous day due to imported cases and small cluster infections.
Of the new cases, 22 were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 2,396. The imported cases grew in double figures for 36 straight days since June 26.
One more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 301. The total fatality rate stood at 2.10 percent.
A total of 51 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 13,183. The total recovery rate was 92.16 percent.
Fiji reported its first death from COVID-19 infection on Friday.
Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said the 66-year-old Fijian man, who had a history of cardiac problems and returned from India early July, died on Thursday in the hospital in Lautoka, Fiji's the second largest city.
The man was the island nation's first border quarantine case of COVID-19.
The man's son, who returned to Fiji from India with his father on a repatriation flight carrying 107 passengers, also tested positive of COVID-19 and has been isolated for treatment.
There are nine border quarantine cases in the country and no positive cases were reported since July 20.
Meanwhile, Fiji's Acting Permanent Secretary for the Health Ministry James Fong said the man was isolated early and the public remains safe.
He also said the remaining confirmed cases in Fiji are currently in stable condition.
Fiji had reported a total of 18 COVID-19 patients since it confirmed its first case on March 19, and all of them have fully recovered before June 5.
HONG KONG NEWS