In this file photo taken on September 5, 2020 Iranian school children sit together in a classroom on the first day of school, at Nojavanan school in the capital Tehran. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)
SYDNEY / MELBOURNE / SINGAPORE - Iran’s daily coronavirus infections surged to 2,981, the most since a record high reported on June 4.
Daily cases and deaths have been rising for the past two weeks and Wednesday’s figure is 60% higher than the number of infections reported on Sept 2. Some 410,334 people have so far been infected with the disease, Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, said in a statement on state TV.
The surge comes weeks after mass gatherings took place across the country to mark an annual religious holiday, despite efforts by officials to encourage people to carry out the mourning rituals at home.
Faced with an ailing economy that was already hobbled by tough US sanctions, officials eased lockdown restrictions back in April, triggering a resurgence of infections that peaked at 3,574 on June 4.
India’s coronavirus infections surged past 5 million on Wednesday, piling pressure on hospitals grappling with unreliable supplies of oxygen that they need to treat tens of thousands of critical patients.
In the big states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, that are also some of the worst-affected by the virus, demand for oxygen has more than tripled, doctors and government officials said, prompting urgent calls for help.
“Desperate patients have been calling me through the night but I don’t know when I will get stock,” Rishikhesh Patil, an oxygen supplier in the western city of Nashik, told Reuters.
The health ministry reported 90,123 new infections on Wednesday, taking the total caseload to 5.02 million.
The death toll from COVID-19 is now at 82,066, the ministry said, with 1,290 fatalities recorded in the previous 24 hours.
India has the world’s fastest growing novel coronavirus epidemic and added its last million infections in just 12 days. It is only the second country in the world to have more than 5 million cases, after the United States.
At least 6 percent of India’s nearly 1 million active cases need oxygen support, health ministry official Rajesh Bhushan told reporters. Supplies were adequate but state governments should monitor usage and flag shortages, he said.
“The problem happens when at a facility level, if there is no inventory management. Every state should ensure this,” Bhushan said.
In the capital of India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, the total requirement of oxygen cylinders stood at 5,000 cylinders compared with 1,000 cylinders in normal times, a government official said.
The worst-affected state of Maharashtra has decided to reduce supply to neighbouring states to meet its growing demand, a state government official said.
Vehicles carrying oxygen will get right of way and can use sirens to ensure they reach hospitals faster.
The Mitigation Team of the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) has recorded that as many as 115 doctors had died during the COVID-19 pandemic across the archipelagic country with the biggest number in East Java province.
Of the total number, 60 were general practitioners, 53 were specialists and two resident doctors who were still attending an education for specialists, according to data from the IDI's Mitigation Team as quoted by Antara news agency here on Wednesday.
The biggest number of the doctors who died was found in East Java province with 29 doctors followed by North Sumatra province with 21 doctors, Indonesia's capital of Jakarta 15 doctors, and the rest were found in other provinces in the country.
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 3,963 within one day to 228,993, with the death toll adding by 135 to 9,100, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
According to the ministry, 3,036 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 164,101.
Bangladesh reported 1,615 new COVID-19 cases and 21 new deaths on Wednesday, making the tally at 342,671 and death toll at 4,823, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.
The official data showed that 13,360 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.
Kuwait on Wednesday reported 698 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 96,999 and the death toll to 571, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Currently, 9,241 patients are receiving treatment, including 93 in ICU, according to the statement.
A total of 40 new COVID-19 positive cases have been registered in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of patients infected with the virus to 38,855, said a statement released by the country's Public Health Ministry on Wednesday.
According to the statement, 10 patients have died over the period, raising the number of COVID-19 related deaths to 1,436 since February when Afghanistan saw the coronavirus outbreak.
A woman wears a face mask as she walks through the central business district of Sydney on Sept 15, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)
A report commissioned by the Australian government has found that up to 60,000 coronavirus cases could have gone undetected in the country.
The report estimated that as many as 71,400 Australians could have contracted COVID-19 by July.
Australia’s Victoria state on Wednesday said the daily rise in infections in its coronavirus hot spot of Melbourne has eased further, putting it on course to relax an extended hard lockdown in the city by the end of the month.
Average cases over the last two weeks in Melbourne, the state’s largest city, fell below 50, health authorities said, the benchmark the state set to start easing curbs.
Construction sites, manufacturing plants, warehouses and childcare facilities can reopen, allowing more than 100,000 workers to return to their jobs, if the 14-day rolling average is under 50 cases as of Sept. 28.
However, people will still be limited to moving around in a 5 kilometre (3 mile) radius around home and only allowed outside for two hours a day for exercise, with a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
“We have to see this through. We absolutely do. Because if we get ourselves in a situation where frustration gets the better of us...then we can open, but we won’t stay open for very long,” Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters.
The state has set a much tougher target of a 14-day average of five cases for lifting the nightly curfew and reopening more businesses in Melbourne from Oct 26.
Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, reported eight deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours and 42 new cases, down from highs above 700 in early August. With the drop in cases, the state this week is lifting most restrictions in regional areas outside Melbourne.
From late Wednesday, in regional Victoria, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted, residents of a household will be allowed to visit one other home, and cafes will be able to seat up to 50 people outdoors.
Australia has reported over 26,700 coronavirus cases and 824 deaths, with Victoria accounting for the bulk of both. New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, reported 10 new cases on Wednesday. The virus has been effectively eliminated in other states and territories.
Most of the country’s cases have been traced back to returned travellers. Daily limits have been imposed on the number of people allowed to return from overseas and arrivals must quarantine in a hotel for 14-days.
However with 25,000 Australians stranded overseas, the national government on Wednesday pressed states to raise caps and open up regional airports to international flights, so a further 2,000 a week could return, raising the weekly total to 6,000.
“I want to make sure that more Australians can return home. There are some heart-wrenching stories,” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told reporters.
Western Australia state, which has kept its borders tightly shut offered to open up Rottnest island, off Perth, as a quarantine centre.
New Zealand’s economy will endure a shallower recession than previously expected but the coronavirus pandemic will have a longer impact on the country’s finances, according to government projections. On Wednesday, the government projected larger budget deficits in the near term and higher net debt than forecast in the budget.
Apple Inc and the Singapore government have partnered on a two-year health initiative dubbed LumiHealth, which is built around tracking and rewarding user behavior through the Apple Watch gadget and an iPhone app. As part of the plan, Singapore residents will be able to earn as much as S$380 (US$280) by completing goals and tasks set within the app. Goals can be accomplished by walking or doing other exercises like swimming or yoga, and the LumiHealth app will offer personalized coaching and reminders for health screenings and immunizations.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 34 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 57,488.
Of the new cases, six are imported cases, and there are no community cases.
On Tuesday, 82 more patients have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities after full recovery, taking the total number of recoveries to 56,884, the ministry said.
There are 51 active cases who are still in hospital. Of these, most are stable or improving, and none is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
Furthermore, 526 people, who have mild symptoms, or are clinically well but still test positive for COVID-19, are isolated and cared for at community facilities.
People take a walk in the morning wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus inside a park in Kolkata, India, Sept 15, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)
Thailand will start issuing special visas to foreign tourists starting in October. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s cabinet approved a proposal to issue visas to tourists planning to stay between 90 and 280 days in Thailand. The tourists will undergo a mandatory 14-day state quarantine on arrival at partner hotels or hospitals and follow health and safety regulations.
The United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday announced 674 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 80,940.
At the same time, 654 more patients recovered from the virus, taking the tally of recoveries in the UAE to 70,635, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention said.
It also confirmed two more deaths, pushing the country's death toll to 401.
Turkey reported 1,742 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the total diagnosed patients to 294,620, the Turkish Health Ministry announced.
Meanwhile, 67 people died in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 7,186, according to the data shared by the ministry.
A total of 1,202 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, raising the total recoveries to 261,260 in Turkey.
The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients is 7.1 percent and the number of seriously ill patients is 1,327.
Turkish health professionals conducted 110,412 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests to 8,742,535.
Palestine on Tuesday reported 1,118 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the Palestinian territories to 41,416.
Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said in a statement that six new fatalities from the COVID-19 were recorded, bringing the death toll in the Palestinian territories to 261, said the minister.
The total recoveries climbed to 29,031 with the addition of 455 new recoveries on the day.
She added that the Palestinian territories have been witnessing a significant spike in the COVID-19 infections due to the non-compliance of citizens with the health instructions.
Palestine currently has 12,124 active coronavirus cases, including 1,688 in the coastal enclave of Gaza Strip.
The Iraqi Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 4,224 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 298,702.
The ministry also confirmed 80 new deaths from the infectious disease, taking the death toll to 8,166. Meanwhile, 4,214 more patients recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 233,346.
The new cases included 1,312 in the capital Baghdad, 365 in Wasit, 283 in Nineveh, 265 in Duhok, 251 in Basra, 247 in Dhi Qar, 219 in Karbala, and 216 in al-Qadsiyah, while the other cases were detected in other provinces, the ministry said in a statement.
A total of 1,948,531 tests have been carried out across the country since the outbreak of the disease in February, with 22,141 done on Tuesday.
Lebanon's total number of COVID-19 cases increased by 592 cases to 25,449 on Tuesday, the Lebanese Health Ministry reported.
The total death toll from the coronavirus went up by six to 252, it added.
Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced on Tuesday that the ministry is working on securing the vaccine against COVID-19 at a reasonable price, taking into account the economic and financial crisis in Lebanon.
He added that the ministry is also in contact with the Russian embassy to secure studies that assess the importance of the vaccine produced by Russia.
The Nepali government on Tuesday reported the record high daily spike in COVID-19 cases as the Himalayan country moved to relax restrictions on economic activities.
According to Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population, a total 1,459 new COVID-19 cases were identified in the last 24 hours. Earlier, Nepal had reported record high daily infections on Sept. 11 with 1,454 cases.
"With addition of new cases, total COVID-19 cases in Nepal reached 56,788," spokesman at the Health Ministry Jageshwor Gautam told a press conference. The country also reported 11 new deaths in the last 24 hours, increasing the death toll from the pandemic to 371.
South Korea reported 113 more cases of the COVID-19 as of 0:00 a.m. Wednesday local time compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 22,504.
The daily caseload stayed below 200 for two straight weeks, but it continued to grow in triple digits since Aug. 14.
It was attributed to cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province linked to church services and a massive rally held in central Seoul on Aug. 15.
Of the new cases, 49 were Seoul residents and 24 were people residing in Gyeonggi province.
Eight were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 3,038.
No more death was reported, leaving the death toll at 367. The total fatality rate stood at 1.63 percent.
A total of 432 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 19,310. The total recovery rate was 85.81 percent.
The Philippines’ health ministry on Wednesday recorded 3,550 additional novel coronavirus infections and 69 more deaths.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had risen to 272,934, the most in Southeast Asia, while confirmed deaths have reached 4,732.
Myanmar authorities are racing to build a field hospital in the commercial capital of Yangon to cope with a surge of coronavirus infections that doctors fear threatens to overwhelm the country’s fragile health system.
The Southeast Asian nation reported 307 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, its highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic in March, and another 134 on Wednesday morning, taking the total to 3,636 cases and 39 deaths.
Myanmar had gone weeks without a case of local transmission before an outbreak in mid-August in the western region of Rakhine that has spread across the country.
Three hospitals in Yangon, the site of most of the cases and now under a second lockdown, have been repurposed to treat COVID-19 patients and the government is building a field hospital with 500 beds on a football pitch.
Israel's education system will shut down on Thursday, 24 hours before schedule, due to the significant increase in COVID-19 infection, the state's Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.
Schools and kindergartens in Israel were supposed to close on Friday, when a three-week full nationwide lockdown would begin.
However, due to high morbidity figures in recent days, of more than 4,000 new daily cases, the Israeli government has decided in an urgent telephone vote among ministers to bring forward the closure of all schools and kindergartens across the country.
The decision follows a recommendation from the Health Ministry and Israel's COVID-19 project manager Ronni Gamzu.
The full closure in Israel will begin on Friday at 2 pm (1100 GMT), and includes a ban on moving more than 500 meters away from home, as well as the closure of most shops, and all places of culture, entertainment, leisure and tourism.
However, Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport will remain open under restrictions, when only flights that have already been approved will be operated.
Malaysia reported 62 new COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 10,031.
Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that one of the new cases is imported and 61 are local transmissions.
Another 26 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total cured and discharged to 9,235, or 92.1 percent of all cases.
Of the remaining 668 active cases, 15 are being held in intensive care and three of those are in need of assisted breathing.
No new deaths have been reported, leaving the total deaths at 128.
HONG KONG NEWS