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Tuesday, January 26, 2021, 22:54
Israel says vaccination results 'very encouraging'
By Agencies
Tuesday, January 26, 2021, 22:54 By Agencies

Foreign passengers wearing protective suits line up for their flight to China at Manila's International Airport, Philippines, Jan 18, 2021. (PHOTO / AP)

BEIRUT / JERUSALEM / BAGHDAD / MELBOURNE - Of the 428,000 people who were eligible for a “green passport” -- meaning at least a week had passed after their second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine -- only 63, or about 0.014 percent, have been diagnosed with coronavirus, Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said at a parliamentary committee meeting. Some 30 percent of the population has received a first dose and more than 13 percent a second one.

The Israeli health-maintenance organization Maccabi Healthcare Services described the data as “very encouraging.” 

Israel early on Tuesday morning closed its international airport to all flights as a one-week measure to stop the arrival of new coronavirus strains came in effect.

The international Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv will remain closed until Jan 31, when the ban is expected to be lifted, the Airport Authority said in a statement.

The measure bans all incoming and outgoing flights, except for medical emergencies and attending legal procedures or a funeral of a relative.

Israel's Ministry of Health reported 8,664 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total tally in the country to 605,397.

The death toll from the COVID-19 in Israel reached 4,478 after 86 new fatalities were added, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 1,181 to 1,174, out of 1,845 hospitalized patients.

The total recoveries rose to 529,586, with 7,218 newly recovered cases, while the active cases increased to 71,333.

Indonesia 

Indonesia has registered more than one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the first coronavirus infection was confirmed in the country in March last year, amid the current vaccination drive.

On Tuesday, the COVID-19 cases in the world's fourth most populous country rose by 13,094 in the past 24 hours to 1,012,350, the country's Health Ministry reported.

To date, more than 28,000 people have died and around 820,000 have recovered from the coronavirus epidemic, showed the official data.

Indonesia posts the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the Southeast Asia region. The virus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces with Jakarta being the hardest hit, and East Java the highest death toll.

The Philippines

The Philippines has confirmed domestic transmission of the new, highly contagious British variant of the coronavirus, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to abandon a plan to allow some minors to go outside their homes.

“Right now, we have local transmission where this individual or these cases with the variant have already infected their community, their family,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told news channel ANC on Tuesday.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed concern over the detection of the more contagious coronavirus strain in the Philippines.

The world is scrambling to contain the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, despite travel bans, new lockdowns and a tightening quarantine measures in dozens of countries, amid concerns it could not only be more transmissible, but deadlier.

The Philippine health ministry said the B.1.1.7 variant had spread among 12 people in Bontoc, a mountainous northern province, with 17 such cases in the country.

Its first case of the British variant was found in a Filipino who had travelled from the United Arab Emirates.

Citing the British variant, Duterte said he had scrapped a plan to allow children ages 10 to 14 in low-risk areas to go outside the home starting Feb 1.

The Philippines, which has imposed some of the world’s toughest coronavirus restrictions, including internal travel bans, has since March last year officially prohibited minors from leaving the home.

With nearly 515,000 coronavirus cases and more than 10,200 deaths, the Philippines is among the worst affected countries in Asia.

Malaysia

The Malaysian government signed a deal on Tuesday to procure 12 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.

The vaccines would be supplied through Malaysia's leading pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga following the signing of an agreement between the company and Malaysia's Health Ministry, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The 12 million doses will cover six million people or 18.75 percent of Malaysia's total population, as part of its immunization program, said the statement.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s borders will remain closed for most of this year as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, but the country will pursue travel arrangements with neighbouring Australia and other Pacific nations, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday.

Medical authorities, meanwhile, may approve a COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week, Ardern said, as pressure mounts for a start to vaccinations after the country confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus in the community in months.

“Given the risks in the world around us and the uncertainty of the global rollout of the vaccine, we can expect our borders to be impacted for much of this year,” Ardern said at a news conference.

For travel to restart, authorities either needed confidence that those vaccinated don’t pass COVID-19 on to others, which is not yet known, or enough of the population needed to be vaccinated so people can safely re-enter New Zealand.

But both possibilities will take some time, she said.

New Zealand reported 2 new cases of COVID-19 at its managed isolation facilities on Tuesday and no new community cases. The country has 65 active cases, 1,934 confirmed cases in all, and 25 deaths.

Palestine

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said that Palestine is studying the option of closing its border crossings to limit the spread of the new coronavirus strain.

Ishtaye told the weekly meeting of the Palestinian Authority cabinet held in Ramallah that "Palestine is studying with Jordan and Israel the choice of closing all its border crossings to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 strain."

Palestine has recently reported 17 cases infected with the new strain.

"Wearing face masks, washing hands, and abiding by social distancing are the only available weapons in our hands until now to combat the spread of the virus before we receive the vaccines soon," Ishtaye said in a press statement.

The Palestinian government in the West Bank, and Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, have been imposing lockdowns and precautionary measures since last March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"The wide commitment to the lockdown measures had led to positive results, and the occupancy rate decreased significantly in the hospitals designated for coronavirus in the Palestinian territories," Ishtaye added.

Meanwhile, Mai al-Kaila, the Palestinian Health Minister, told a news briefing that Palestine recorded five more deaths, 470 new COVID-19 cases, and 729 recoveries in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia

The Serum Institute of India (SII) will supply Saudi Arabia with 3 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses priced at US$5.25 each in about a week on behalf of the British drugmaker, its chief executive told Reuters on Monday.

SII has no immediate plans, however, to divert supplies to Europe, even though AstraZeneca has come under pressure from the EU to deliver more shots after announcing a big cut in shipments due to production problems at a Belgian factory.

SII, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, has partnered with AstraZeneca, the Gates Foundation and the Gavi vaccine alliance to make up to a billion doses for poorer countries.

The Indian company supplies doses on behalf of AstraZeneca but is also free to strike its own supply deals.

Lebanon

Lebanon registered on Monday 2,652 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the tally to 282,249, the health ministry reported.

Meanwhile, death toll from the virus went up by 54 to 2,374 in the country.

The Lebanese government has imposed a total lockdown until Feb. 8 to curb the pandemic.

Firas Abiad, director of Rafic Hariri University Hospital, warned on Monday against easing lockdown measures, which would lead to losing what has been achieved over the past weeks.

ALSO READ: COVID-19 infections in Indonesia near one million

South Korea

South Korea reported 354 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours vs. 437 the previous day, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. Total deaths rose by 11 to 1,371.

Fiji

The South Pacific island nation of Fiji is expected to get COVID-19 vaccine by the second half of this year, a World Health Organization (WHO)'s Representative for the South Pacific, Corine Capuano, said here on Tuesday.

According to Fiji's leading news website Fijivillage, Capuano said that they are working to find COVID-19 vaccines that will be more adaptive to Fiji's climate.

Fiji is working hard to prepare for a vaccine deployment and vaccination plan which will cover all aspects of rolling out vaccines, from the training to the type of vaccine, she said, adding that Fiji's preparedness for the COVID-19 vaccine arrival and rollout will be scaled up with WHO's assistance.

Mongolia 

Mongolia recorded 13 more locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing its national tally to 1,656, the country's National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Tuesday.

"A total of 12,039 tests for COVID-19 were conducted across Mongolia yesterday and 13 of them were positive," said Amarjargal Ambaselmaa, head of the NCCD's Surveillance Department, at a daily press conference.

Iraq

The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Monday 813 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide number of cases to 614,576.

The ministry reported in a statement seven new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,000.

It also said that 1,585 cases recovered during te day, bringing the total recoveries to 583,127.

A total of 5,413,037 tests have been carried out across the country since the outbreak of the disease in February 2020, with 34,907 done during the day, according to the statement.

On Jan 19, the ministry said in a statement that the Iraqi National Board for Selection of Drugs (NBSD) had approved the emergency use of China's Sinopharm and Britain's AstraZeneca vaccines to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Iraq has taken a series of measures to contain the pandemic since the first coronavirus case appeared in the country.

Qatar

The Qatari health ministry on Monday announced 277 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 149,296, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

Meanwhile, 123 more people recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 144,981, while the fatalities remained 248 for the eighth day running, according to a ministry statement quoted by QNA.

A total of 1,357,657 people in Qatar have taken lab tests for COVID-19 so far. 

Singapore

Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 44 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 59,352.

All of the new cases are imported cases.

On Monday, 25 more cases of COVID-19 infection have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In all, 59,066 have fully recovered from the infection, the ministry said.

There are currently 59 confirmed cases who are still in hospital. Of these, most are stable or improving, and none is in critical condition in the intensive care unit. 

READ MORE: India vaccinates over 1.5m people against COVID-19

Japan

Tokyo has revised its contact-tracing strategy to prioritise outreach to higher-risk individuals affected by coronavirus, according to a letter sent by the metropolitan government to public health authorities last week.

The change comes as a third wave of the pandemic overwhelms Japan’s public health centres, which handle everything from tests and tracing to finding hospital beds.

Despite its early success, experts have warned that the country’s strategy to trace clusters of cases rather than conduct mass tests could face limits as virus cases surge nationwide.

Public health officials and doctors have lobbied for months for authorities to increase testing to ensure early detection and contain the spread of the virus.

Japan on Monday confirmed 2,764 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country's total number of infections to 369,197 as the government gears up to conduct "long overdue" mass random PCR tests.

The nationwide death toll has reached a total of 5,207 people, with 74 deaths reported across the country by health officials on Monday.

The number of hospitalized patients designated as being "seriously ill" stood at 1,017, according to the health ministry, rising by 10 from Sunday.

Kuwait

Kuwait's COVID-19 cases increased by 492 to 161,777 on the same day, while the death toll rose by two to 954.

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced the recovery of 513 more patients, taking the total recoveries to 154,766.

Oman

The Omani health ministry announced 209 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the sultanate to 133,253.

Meanwhile, 72 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall recoveries to 126,334, while one death was reported, pushing the tally up to 1,522. 

The Philippines

The Philippines has confirmed domestic transmission of the new, highly contagious British variant of the coronavirus, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to abandon a plan to allow some minors to go outside their homes.

“Right now, we have local transmission where this individual or these cases with the variant have already infected their community, their family,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told news channel ANC on Tuesday.

The world is scrambling to contain the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, despite travel bans, new lockdowns and a tightening quarantine measures in dozens of countries, amid concerns it could not only be more transmissible, but deadlier.

The Philippine health ministry said the B.1.1.7 variant had spread among 12 people in Bontoc, a mountainous northern province, with 17 such cases in the country.

Its first case of the British variant was found in a Filipino who had travelled from the United Arab Emirates.

Citing the British variant, Duterte said he had scrapped a plan to allow children ages 10 to 14 in low-risk areas to go outside the home starting Feb 1.

The Philippines, which has imposed some of the world’s toughest coronavirus restrictions, including internal travel bans, has since March last year officially prohibited minors from leaving the home.

With nearly 515,000 coronavirus cases and more than 10,200 deaths, the Philippines is among the worst affected countries in Asia.

Thailand 

Thailand on Tuesday confirmed a record daily tally of 959 cases of coronavirus infection, mostly via active testing in Samut Sakhon province, according to the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Of the new cases, 937 were domestic ones and 22 others were imported cases, CCSA spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said at a daily briefing.

The domestic cases included 914 which were reported in Samut Sakhon by local authorities on Monday, from where the domestic spread has been reported since last month, Taweesin said.

Most of the cases in the province were found through active testing conducted with Myanmar migrants and Thai nationals, the spokesman added.

The total number of confirmed infections in Thailand stands at 14,646 so far. Altogether 10,892 patients have fully recovered while 3,679 others are currently hospitalized with 75 fatalities, Taweesin said. 

Maldives

Nearly 20,000 Maldivians have signed up to be vaccinated against COVID-19 since registrations were opened on Jan. 18, local media reported on Tuesday.

Health Emergency Operation Center (HEOC) Spokesperson Dr. Nazla Rafeeq was quoted in state-owned PSM News as saying that 19,666 people had registered to be vaccinated so far. Registrations are currently only open for priority groups such as health and social care workers.

The Maldives received 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India on Jan. 20. President Ibrahim Solih has pledged to vaccinate the entire population free of charge.

According to data from the Health Protection Agency, the Maldives currently has 14,993 confirmed cases of COVID-19, out of which 13,851 have fully recovered and 51 have died. 

Cambodia 

Cambodia on Tuesday confirmed two new imported COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the kingdom to 460, said a Ministry of Health (MoH) statement.

The new cases were detected on a 24-year-old Indonesian man coming from Indonesia and a 23-year-old Cambodian woman returning from neighboring Thailand, the statement said, adding that both arrived in Cambodia on Jan. 12.

The Indonesian man was positive for the virus in his second test, while the Cambodian woman was found the virus in her third test, the statement said.

They are currently undergoing treatment at designated COVID-19 hospitals.

Laos 

A total of 102,017 people in Laos have received COVID-19 tests since January 2020, according to Lao Ministry of Health.

Laos has conducted 102,017 tests for COVID-19 since January 2020, with 44 of them positive and 41 patients having been discharged from the hospitals, Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control under Lao Ministry of Health Sisavath Soutthaniraxay told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane on Tuesday.

Authorities and people countrywide must continue their efforts in implementing preventative measures.  It was essential that every person and all relevant authorities strictly abide by the new normal guidelines and rules set by the Lao government, said Sisavath.

Vietnam 

Vietnam reported two new cases of COVID-19 infection on Tuesday, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 1,551 with 35 deaths, according to its Ministry of Health.

The new cases included an American expert and a Vietnamese citizen who recently entered the country from abroad and were quarantined upon arrival.

The ministry also announced that five more patients have been given the all-clear, raising the total cured cases in the country to 1,430 as of Tuesday.

India

India's overall COVID-19 situation continues to improve as the number of new cases registered per day has fallen below the 10,000-mark, and deaths per day have fallen below 120 in over eight months.

 According to the latest data released by the federal health ministry on Tuesday, 9,102 daily new cases were detected through Monday, which was the lowest in 237 days.

Till now the lowest number of daily new cases were 9,304, registered on June 4, 2020. 

Iran

Iranian health officials approved Russia’s Sputnik coronavirus vaccine, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced during a visit to Moscow on Tuesday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

The Islamic Republic has yet to start vaccinations. Officials said on Monday the first batch of imported doses could be from AstraZeneca.

Iran urged US President Joe Biden on Tuesday to lift sanctions which it said were hampering Tehran’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iran recorded 79 deaths from COVID-19 over the last 24 hours. That’s down from 98 on Monday, which marked the country’s biggest jump in two weeks. The number of known infections rose by 6,420 to 1,385,706, the Health Ministry reported.


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