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Monday, September 28, 2020, 22:39
NZ PM: Travel to some Aussie states may be possible soon
By Agencies
Monday, September 28, 2020, 22:39 By Agencies

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to members of the Muslim community as she leaves the Al Noor mosque after unveiling a plaque in memory of the victims killed in the 2019 twin mosque shootings, in Christchurch on Sept 24, 2020. (SANKA VIDANAGAMA / AFP)

JERUSALEM / KABUL / DHAKA / TEHRAN / DUBAI / TOKYO / YANGON / SEOUL / KUWAIT CITY / KUALA LUMPUR / BANGKOK / WELLINGTON / HANOI - Travel between New Zealand and some states of Australia is possible before the end of the year, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Plans for a travel ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand has been in discussions for months as both nations slowed the spread of the coronavirus, but they were disrupted after a resurgence of COVID-19 in Melbourne, Australia, followed by a second wave of infections in Auckland.

With the virus largely contained in New Zealand, and as cases continue to decline in Australian regions, talks of a travel bubble with some states have been revived.

When asked by state broadcaster TVNZ whether New Zealanders would be able to travel to at least some Australian regions before Christmas, Ardern said: “It is possible.”

“What we would need to be assured of is that when Australia is saying ‘okay we’ve got a hotspot over here’ that the border around that hotspot means that people aren’t able to travel into the states where we are engaging with in trans-Tasman travel,” she said.

New Zealand has only 59 active cases and 1,477 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far, one of the lowest tally in the world.

Some media reports on Monday also said the travel may initially be just one way with New Zealanders heading to Australia, and may be restricted to just travellers from New Zealand’s South Island, which has had no coronavirus cases for months.

Australia has reported just over 27,000 cases, and 872 deaths, well below the numbers seen in many other developed nations.


Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry has confirmed 12 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of the patients infected with the virus since February in the country to 39,239, the ministry said in a statement released here Monday.

According to the statement, three patients have died due to the disease over the period, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 1,456 since the outbreak of the virus in February in the country.

No recovery of the disease has been reported over the past 24 hours, the statement said, adding since February 32,642 COVID-19 infected patients have recovered in Afghanistan.


Australia’s coronavirus hotspot of Victoria said on Monday its daily rise in new coronavirus infections fell to single digits for the first time in more than three months, as the state began winding back some restrictions.

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, placed nearly 5 million residents of its capital Melbourne into a hard lockdown in early August but lifted a night curfew on Sunday thanks to a steady fall in new daily case numbers.

The two-week average of new infections in Melbourne fell below 21. Authorities have flagged that more curbs could be relaxed once average cases hit certain targets.

Australia has so far reported just over 27,000 cases and 875 deaths, with Victoria accounting for about 75 percent of infections and nearly 90 percent of all deaths.

READ MORE: India's COVID-19 tally nears 6m, death toll reaches 94,503


Bangladesh reported 1,407 new COVID-19 cases and 32 new deaths on Monday, making the tally at 360,555 and death toll at 5,193, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.

The official data showed that 11,922 samples were tested in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.

The total number of recovered patients in the country stood at 272,073 including 1,582 new recoveries on Monday, said the DGHS.

According to the official data, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh is now 1.44 percent and the current recovery rate is 75.46 percent.

Bangladesh recorded the highest daily new cases of 4,019 on July 2 and the highest number of deaths of 64 on June 30.


India’s coronavirus infections crossed the six million mark as the outbreak accelerates through the world’s second-most populous country. Infections rose by more than 80,000 and now stand at 6,074,702, according to data released by the health ministry. Some 95,542 people in India have died from the disease.

India has the world’s second-highest case tally and its underfunded health-care system faces a growing challenge to control the outbreak, which is escalating through the nation’s hinterland and drawing resources away from routine health services.


The total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in Iran reached 449,960 on Monday, after an overnight registration of 3,512 infections, the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education announced.

Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the ministry, said at her daily briefing that 1,514 new patients required hospitalization in the past 24 hours, as quoted by official news agency IRNA.

Currently, 4,068 COVID-19 patients remain in critical condition in intensive care units in Iran, while 376,531 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, she added.

As of Monday, 3,959,783 laboratory tests for COVID-19 have been carried out in the country, the spokeswoman said.

The risk of infection is high in 26 out of 31 Iranian provinces, while four others are on alert over the spread of the disease.


3,481 new COVID-19 cases were detected in Iraq during the past 24 hours, bringing the total nationwide infections to 349,450.

The death toll from the coronavirus in Iraq rose to 8,990 after 55 fatalities were added, while the total recoveries increased to 280,673 as 3,755 more patients recovered.

Young women ride their bicycles past a billboard reminding people to wear masks, in an almost deserted street in the centre of the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on Sept 26, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)


3,926 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Israel, taking the tally of coronavirus infections to 231,026.

The death toll of the virus in Israel increased to 1,466 while the recoveries rose to 159,931.

On Sunday afternoon, the country decided to halt the celebration of the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, which comes during a three-week nationwide lockdown to curb the renewed coronavirus outbreak.

However, it will be permitted to pray in synagogues during the Jewish festival, which began on Sunday at dusk and will end on Monday at nightfall, for limited prayers with social distancing.


Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Monday that the government will consider relaxing a rule on eating at movie theaters amid a recent decline in the number of COVID-19 infections.

While Japan has eased a rule limiting the size of crowds at professional sports matches, movie theaters and other events since Sept 19, eating is allowed only if audiences are limited to half of auditorium capacity to contain infection.

Nishimura, who is also the minister in charge of the coronavirus response, told a press conference that movie theater operators had asked the government to ease the rule.

According to Nishimura, the government has determined that it is safe to drink beverages in movie theaters. However, audiences need to take off face masks for longer time to eat.

Therefore, the government will make a decision based on scientific data to determine whether it is safe to relax the rule, he said.

Japan on Monday confirmed 279 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the nation's cumulative total to 82,577 excluding cases related to a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo earlier in the year, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities.


Jordan on Sunday resumed its land border traffic with Syria, following a more than month-long closure, after applying new rules to prevent truck drivers spreading the novel coronavirus into the kingdom, officials and businessmen said.

They said authorities imposed back-to-back handling of goods to ensure Syrian, Lebanese truck drivers and others entering the kingdom maintain a social distance from Jordanian customs officials.

Jordan recorded 431 new infections, taking the tally of cases in the country to 8,492, including 45 deaths and 4,222 recoveries.

ALSO READ: Australia's COVID-19 hotspot to ease curbs ahead of schedule


Kuwait on Monday reported 437 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 103,981 and the death toll to 605, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Currently, 7,865 patients are receiving treatment, including 125 in ICU, according to the statement.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 582 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 95,511.

On Sept 14, the Kuwaiti government decided to postpone the fifth phase of a plan to return to normal until further notice.

During the fifth phase, theaters and cinemas will be allowed to reopen and all social events permitted to be held.


In Lebanon, the number of COVID-19 infections increased by 1,012 to 36,254, while the death toll went up by seven to 347.


Malaysia reported 115 new COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry said on Monday, bringing the national total to 11,034.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that three of the new cases are imported and 112 are local transmissions, of which 98 cases are reported in the eastern state of Sabah as 11 others with travel history to the state.

Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who coordinated the implementation of restrictive measures, announced that four districts in Sabah would be placed under enhanced movement control orders to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The movement restrictions will be enforced from Sept 29-Oct 12 and will affect nearly 1 million people, he said in a statement on Monday.

Another 54 patients have been released after recovery on Monday, bringing the total cured and discharged to 9,889, or 89.6 percent of all cases.

Of the remaining 1,011 active cases, eight are being held in intensive care and five of those are in need of assisted breathing.

No new deaths have been reported, leaving the total deaths at 134. 


Myanmar's Foreign Affairs Ministry Monday announced the extension of COVID-19 restriction measures until Oct 31 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The extension will be applied to the temporary entry restrictions for all travellers from foreign countries, temporary suspension of all types of visas including social visit visas and visa exemption services, the ministry said.

Foreign nationals including diplomats wishing to visit Myanmar for urgent official missions or compelling reasons are asked to contact the nearest Myanmar mission for possible exception to certain visa restrictions.

Myanmar has reported 10,734 COVID-19 confirmed cases with 226 deaths as of Sunday, according to latest figures released by the Health and Sports Ministry.


Palestine reported 620 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections in the Palestinian territories to 49,192, including 343 deaths.


In Qatar, 234 new cases of coronavirus infections were detected, increasing the total number to 125,084, including 214 deaths and 121,995 recoveries.

People walk through the Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul on Sept 15, 2020. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia announced 403 new cases and 28 more deaths, raising the tally of confirmed cases to 333,193 and the death toll to 4,683.

The kingdom also reported 600 more recovered patients, taking the total recoveries to 317,005. 

South Korea

South Korea added 50 more coronavirus cases in 24 hours, down from 95 a day earlier and the fewest in seven weeks. The country’s total death toll rose by five to 406. 

South Korea has been fighting a flare-up in cases that peaked last month at more than 400 in a single day.

Signs prohibiting entry to the Royal Hotel, currently used as an alternative state quarantine hotel for people returning to the country from abroad in an attempt to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, are seen displayed at the entrance of the building in Bangkok on Sept 28, 2020. (MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP)


Thailand’s COVID-19 task force, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, agreed to extend a nationwide state-of-emergency for one more month through Oct 31, according to Deputy Premier Wissanu Krea-Ngam. The move, which needs Cabinet approval, will be the sixth extension since Thailand’s first order in March.

The task force also approved a special tourism visa that will be effective from Oct 1, according to Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. 

Thailand's emergency rule has been consecutively extended one month at a time with October marking its sixth month.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that future tourists from countries where anti-pandemic measures have been reportedly successful, might probably not need to undergo a 14-day long quarantine upon arrival in Thailand.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced 851 new cases, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 91,469.

The tally of recoveries in the UAE rose to 80,544 after 868 more patients have recovered from the virus and the death toll reached 412 with one more death.   

The Philippines

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 307,288 after the country's Department of Health (DOH) reported 3,073 new daily cases on Monday.

The DOH said the number of recoveries also rose to 252,665 after 163 more patients recovered. Meanwhile, 37 more patients died from the viral disease, bringing the death toll to 5,381.

The Philippines cannot be complacent amid the slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus as clusters of infections still remain while critical cases have marginally increased, health authorities said.

Reforms to centralize hospital command and intensify tracking and isolation helped cut back new infections and decongest health facilities this month, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to decide on Monday whether to extend or ease quarantine measures, which are due to end on Sept 30.


Two local potential vaccine studies in Turkey for the novel coronavirus have finalized their animal trial phase, Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said on Sunday.

 "We made our applications to our Ministry of Health, and we want to start human trials after the necessary evaluation and certification of the facilities for the pilot production of these vaccines," the minister told semi-official Anadolu Agency.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Turkey climbed by 1,467 to 314,433, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted.

The death toll from the coronavirus in the country rose to 7,997 after 68 new fatalities were added in the past 24 hours, Koca said, adding that the total recoveries increased to 275,630.

It is worth noting that two local potential vaccine studies in Turkey for the novel coronavirus have finalized their animal trial phase, Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said on Sunday.


Vietnam reported three new cases of COVID-19 infection on Monday, bringing its total confirmed cases to 1,077 with 35 deaths so far, according to its Ministry of Health.

The three new cases have recently entered the country from abroad and were quarantined upon arrival, said the ministry.

As many as 999 patients in the country have been given all-clear as of Monday, said the ministry.

Meanwhile, over 16,800 people are being quarantined and monitored in the country, the ministry said.

Vietnam has gone through 26 straight days without any COVID-19 case in the community, according to the ministry.

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