A man receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the COVID-19, at the Ankara Bilkent City Hospital in Ankara on April 4, 2021. (ADEM ALTAN / AFP)
KABUL / SYDNEY / DHAKA / PHNOM PENH / JAKARTA / TOKYO / DUBAI / NEW DELHI / KUALA LUMPUR / HANOI - Turkey has administered over 20 million COVID-19 vaccines across the country since the start of the mass vaccination program in mid-January, the country's health ministry announced Monday.
So far, over 12.2 million people have received their first doses, and 7.8 million others have taken their second shots, according to the data released on the ministry's website.
In Istanbul, the country's largest city with a population of more than 16 million, 1.9 million citizens have gotten their first doses and 1.2 million others their second ones, the data showed.
Turkey on Sunday reported 55,802 new COVID-19 cases, including 3,101 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 4,268,447, according to its health ministry.
Turkey reported 318 fatalities on Sunday, a 10 percent rise from the previous day and the highest figure since the start of the pandemic.
Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry reported 139 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the overall tally to 58,037 in the country.
The pandemic has so far claimed 2,550 lives in Afghanistan since its outbreak in February 2020 including five deaths in the past 24 hours, said a statement of the ministry.
Australia plans to accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to people over 50 after advising under-50s not to get the AstraZeneca jab due to blood clot concerns, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.
Hundreds of passengers from Australia began arriving in New Zealand airports on Monday after authorities reopened borders, a pandemic milestone that allows quarantine-free travel between the countries for the first time in over a year.
Though most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealand residents since late last year, New Zealand had enforced isolation for arrivals from its neighbour, citing concerns about sporadic virus outbreaks there.
The open border will help drive the economic recovery for both countries and reunite thousands with families and friends, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a joint statement.
The flights reflect “a world-leading arrangement that opens up travel while aiming to keep COVID-19 out of the community,” read in the joint statement. Before Monday, travelers between the nations were required to quarantine for at least two weeks upon arrival, usually in hotels designated to receive overseas arrivals.
"It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia. Be it returning family, friends or holiday-makers, New Zealand says, 'Welcome and enjoy yourself,'" Ardern said.
Bangladeshi authorities have announced to extend the existing lockdown and implement stricter measures to fight the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.
Bangladeshi State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain made the announcement Monday, saying the lockdown will remain in force from April 22 to 28.
The resurgence in COVID-19 cases since last month prompted the government to enforce the strict lockdown that began on April 14 to till April 21.
"The lockdown from April 22 will be a stricter one," Hossain said.
Cambodia on Monday registered 624 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day number of COVID-19 infections since the disease hit the kingdom, said a Ministry of Health (MoH) statement.
Of the new cases, 465 were found in capital Phnom Penh, 144 in Preah Sihanouk province, 10 in Takeo province, three in Svay Rieng province and one each in Kampong Cham and Pursat provinces, the statement said.
The Southeast Asian nation also reported two new deaths, bringing the official death toll to 45 so far, the statement said, adding that there are currently 4,439 active cases in the kingdom.
China's exports to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in March rose to a six-month high, with outbound shipments to its neighbour that month nearly 400 times more than January-February combined, in a sign of easing border restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
The DPRK banned almost all cross-border travel early last year, and some countries including Britain, France and Germany withdrew their local representatives.
In recent weeks, however, there have been growing signs that North Korea may be easing its border restrictions.
The South Pacific island nation of Fiji on Monday morning locked down its greater Nadi and Lautoka area after a 53-year-old woman, who is a first generation contact of the soldier who tested positive for COVID-19, registered a positive COVID-19 test result, according to a statement from Fiji's Health Ministry.
The ministry said that the greater Nadi and Lautoka area, about 200 km west of capital city of Suva, went into lockdown at 4:00 a.m. Monday and police have imposed a 24-hour curfew.
The 53-year-old woman, who resides in Nadi and had a travel history in Fiji's third largest city of Nadi and Fiji's second largest city of Lautoka, worked in a border quarantine facility but entered public spaces.
The woman's family members have been quarantined and are awaiting results of their COVID-19 tests.
The ministry said the lockdown in the greater Nadi and Lautoka area is to aid rapid contact tracing and reduce the likelihood of further transmission. Passenger travel out of the area has been halted by road, air and sea.
People make their way along a street in the old quarters of New Delhi on April 19, 2021, as India's capital will impose a week-long lockdown from tonight. (PHOTO / AFP)
India's capital region of Delhi ordered a six-day lockdown on Monday as daily COVID-19 cases nationwide hit a new record and the health system crumbled under the weight of new infections.
India's hospitals are struggling with a shortage of beds, oxygen and key medicines as infections pass the 15 million mark, second only to the United States.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday cancelled a planned trip to India, scheduled to take place next week, due to the current coronavirus situation in India, Johnson's office said.
Johnson had already postponed the trip once from January, when COVID-19 infections were high in Britain. Infections in India are currently surging as the country endures a second wave of the virus.
India's COVID-19 tally surpassed the 15-million mark, reaching 15,061,919 on Monday, showed the latest data by the federal health ministry. There was an increase of 273,810 COVID-19 cases during the past 24 hours.
This is the third consecutive day when the country witnessed a single day spike of over 250,000 new cases. Besides, as many as 1,619 deaths took place since Sunday morning, taking the death toll to 178,769.
There are still a total of 1,929,329 active cases in the country, with an increase of 128,013 active cases through Sunday, as 12,953,821 people have been cured and discharged from hospitals across the country.
The Indonesian government has extended its community activity restrictions (PPKM) until May 3 and expanded it to five more provinces, according to an official on Monday.
"Based on the evaluation, the previous five restrictions succeeded in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases, and then we extended it again," Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said.
Hartarto explained that the positivity rate now fell to 11.2 percent from 29.42 percent in Feb. 9, 2021.
As of Monday, Indonesia has recorded a total of 1,609,300 cases of COVID-19, with 1,461,414 recoveries and 43,567 deaths.
Iran's health ministry reported on Sunday 405 more COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll of the pandemic in the country to 66,732.
As reported by the official website of the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education between Saturday and Sunday, 21,644 new infections were detected in the country, taking Iran's overall count to 2,237,089.
While 1,785,358 COVID-19 patients have already recovered or been released from hospitals in Iran, 4,766 others in critical conditions are currently being treated in intensive care units, according to official statistics.
As of Sunday, 14,386,423 laboratory tests for COVID-19 have been carried out in Iran, the ministry further noted in its briefing.
Also, 389,266 first doses and 127,594 second doses of vaccines against COVID-19 have been administered in Iran so far.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Sunday 6,188 new coronavirus cases, raising the total nationwide infections to 977,175.
It also reported 33 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 14,981, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 6,814 to 856,532.
A total of 8,805,486 tests have been carried out across the country since the outbreak of the disease in February 2020, with 37,561 done during the day.
It said that 10,308 people were vaccinated during the past 24 hours across the country, bringing the total number of vaccinated people to 225,993.
Israel's Ministry of Health reported 130 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, raising the total number in the country to 837,012.
The death toll from the virus rose by three to 6,334, while the number of patients in serious conditions decreased from 202 to 196, out of 326 hospitalized patients.
The total recoveries in Israel rose to 828,439 after 475 newly recovered cases were added, while the number of active cases decreased to 2,239.
The number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 in Israel has reached nearly 5.35 million, or 57.4 percent of its total population, since the vaccination campaign began on Dec. 20, 2020.
A recent surge in COVID-19 cases could see major parts of Japan slide back into states of emergency with authorities in Tokyo and Osaka looking at renewed curbs to stop the spread.
The new wave of infections complicates preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which are due to start in July having already been postponed due to the global coronavirus outbreak last year.
Japan this month put Osaka, Tokyo, and eight other prefectures under "quasi-states of emergency" aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 with shorter business hours for restaurants and bars and stronger calls for teleworking.
But those measures have done little to reverse the trend so far, with Osaka reporting a record 1,220 cases on Sunday, two weeks after those restrictions took effect as a mutant strain fueled the spread.
"The fruits of these measures should be appearing now," Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters in comments carried online.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters late Sunday she had instructed officials to consider a state of emergency as an option to contain infection numbers that rose over the weekend to the highest in more than two months, when the last state of emergency was in effect in the capital. Her comments came as a new survey showed broad opposition to holding the delayed 2020 Games in the city.
Japan is considering an exception that would allow dentists to administer COVID-19 vaccines in places where enough doctors and nurses aren’t available, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.
Koike also said on Sunday evening that she instructed officials to consider a state of emergency as an option to contain the coronavirus outbreak, public broadcaster NHK reports.
Pedestrians wearing protective face masks cross a road intersection in the Shibuya district in Tokyo, Japan, on April 8, 2020. (TORU HANAI / BLOOMBERG)
The COVID-19 vaccination program in Laos is underway and the majority of people in target areas have had their first dose of the vaccine.
The Lao government plans to vaccinate at least 150,000 people in the initial stages of the program.
Local daily Vientiane Times on Monday quoted Director General of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion under the Lao Ministry of Health Phonepaseuth Ounaphom said that the sectors involved had vaccinated 85 percent of the target population.
As of April 4, some 103,000 people in at-risk groups had received their first vaccination, while 6,171 people have had their second doses, according to the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
The vaccination drive is part of COVID-19 prevention and control plans which health authorities are going all out to implement in a bid to keep the virus in check.
Malaysia started phase 2 of its national immunization program against COVID-19 on Monday, expanding to other high risk groups following the vaccination of the country's frontliners.
The groups include those over the age of 60, those with comorbidities and persons with disabilities, Malaysia's Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told a press briefing.
The vaccination drive is being conducted in three phases: phase 1 for frontliners covering some 500,000 people, phase 2 for high-risk groups and phase 3 for all adults aged 18 and above with the whole exercise expected to be completed by February next year.
Separately, the health ministry reported 2,078 new COVID-19 infections in Malaysia on Monday, bringing the national total to 377,132.
Another eight more deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 1,386.
Mongolia registered 889 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and five more deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the national counts to 22,884 and 55 respectively, the National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) said Monday.
Meanwhile, 524 new recoveries were reported over the same period, raising the total recoveries to 12,401, the NCCD said in a statement.
The number of daily new COVID-19 cases in Mongolia has risen sharply since the beginning of April. Around or more than 1,000 cases have been reported per day in the country in recent days, mostly in the capital Ulan Bator, which is home to over half of the country's population of 3.3 million.
Passengers check-in for Air New Zealand flight destined for Wellington, in Sydney on April 19. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)
New Zealand reported two new cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation and no new cases in the community on Monday. Both of the two new cases arrived before travel from India was suspended on April 11, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.
The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 102, and the total number of confirmed cases is 2,240, said the ministry.
The Qatari health ministry on Sunday announced 823 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 196,580, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
Meanwhile, 713 more recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 173,970, while the fatalities increased by six to 382, according to a ministry statement quoted by QNA.
A total of 1,840,053 persons in Qatar have taken lab tests for COVID-19 so far, while the total number of vaccine doses administered is 1,248,229.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in Sri Lanka reached 617 on Monday after one more death was reported, official statistics from the Health Ministry showed.
According to official figures, Sri Lanka has recorded 96,439 COVID-19 cases since the first local patient was detected in March last year, out of which 93,113 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, bringing down the active patient count to 2,709.
South Korea reported 532 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Sunday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 114,646.
The daily caseload was down from 671 in the previous day, falling below 600 in six days owing to fewer virus tests over the weekend.
The daily number of infections hovered in triple figures since Nov. 8 last year due to small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.
Of the new cases, 136 were Seoul residents and 142 were people residing in Gyeonggi province.
Twenty cases were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 8,002.
Thailand reported 1,390 new coronavirus cases on Monday, slowing slightly after a run of record daily highs, amid a new wave of infections that has seen a third of the country’s cases recorded this month alone.
The new infections were down by a fifth from Sunday’s record 1,767 cases, which the coronavirus taskforce said was due to measures to control the spread and requests for people to avoid travel and gatherings.
The Philippines will resume the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccines on individuals under 60 years old. The Southeast Asian nation’s Department of Health will issue new guidelines on the vaccine’s use, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a virtual forum.
The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday 9,628 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 945,745.
The death toll climbed to 16,048 after 88 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.
Vietnam recorded seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, raising the total tally to 2,791, according to the country's Ministry of Health.
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