Roundup: Asia-Pacific countries on high alert after WHO declares COVID-19 pandemic-Xinhua

Roundup: Asia-Pacific countries on high alert after WHO declares COVID-19 pandemic

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2020-03-12 22:51:54

HONG KONG, March 12 (Xinhua) -- With rising number of confirmed cases, the Asia-Pacific countries are on a high alert after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 a "pandemic."


South Korea confirmed 114 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of midnight Thursday local time, raising the total number of infections to 7,869.

Five more deaths were reported, lifting the death toll to 66. Forty-five more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, raising the combined number to 333.

South Korea plans to impose tighter immigration procedures on more European countries amid the soaring cases of the COVID-19 across Europe in recent days.

All travelers arriving from Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands will be subject to special immigration procedures beginning midnight March 15 local time, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.

Under the intensified procedures, all entrants, both South Korean and foreign nationals, will be required to get fever checks and submit papers on health conditions at airports.

They will also be required to download a self-diagnosis smartphone app to submit self-diagnosis results for 14 days and to be placed under intensive care if they show symptoms.

All entrants arriving from other countries after departing the five European nations for the past two weeks will be subject to the special immigration procedures.


The number of COVID-19 infections in Japan stood at 643 as of 6:00 p.m. local time here.

The death toll stood at 24, according to the health ministry, with the figure including those from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama, close to Tokyo.

Of the 643 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan, the majority are in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, which has confirmed 128 cases and previously declared a state of emergency over the situation.

The health ministry said there are currently 40 patients considered severely ill and are on ventilators to receive respiratory assistance or have been admitted to intensive care units for medical treatment.

The House of Representatives of Japan on Thursday passed a bill enabling Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak if needed.


Singapore recorded nine new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 187, the Ministry of Health said on Thursday.

Three are part of the cluster involving the private dinner function at SAFRA Jurong on Feb. 15. Five are imported cases and one is linked to a previous case.

The ministry also said that a total of 91 patients were still in the hospital and nine of them are under intensive care.


The number of COVID-19 cases in India rose to 73 on Thursday, up from 60 in the previous day, India's federal health ministry said.

Of all the cases, 56 are Indian nationals and 17 are foreign nationals, a statement issued by India's federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

Nine new cases were reported in Maharashtra, two in Uttar Pradesh and others in Delhi.

Authorities across India have sounded an alert and urged people to avoid unnecessary foreign travel and mass gatherings.

India on Wednesday suspended all visas, barring diplomatic, official, UN/international organizations, employment, project categories until April 15.

Authorities in various states have closed schools and cinema halls until March 31 as a precautionary measure.


The first COVID-19 case was reported in the Australian capital Canberra on Thursday.

According to Andrew Barr, chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), a man in his 30s became unwell on Tuesday. He presented to the Weston Creek Walk-in Center on the following day, with a positive result confirmed on Thursday.

A report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said that the man has not been overseas in the past a couple of weeks.

Nationwide, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia has risen to 126 as of 11 a.m. local time on Thursday.

The latest figure, which was released by the Department of Health, represents an increase of 14 from 112 confirmed cases on Wednesday.

The number of deaths related to the virus remains at three, all of which were of patients over the age of 70.

New South Wales (NSW) has more confirmed cases than Australia's seven other states and territories combined with 64 - up from 60 on Wednesday - followed by Victoria with 18 and Queensland with 17.

Also on Thursday, Hollywood star Tom Hanks and his wife, who are in Gold Coast, tested positive for the COVID-19.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled a support package on Thursday, one day after Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a 2.4-billion-Australian dollar (1.5-billion-U.S. dollar) medical response to the crisis.

Of that figure, 11 billion Australian dollars (7.1 billion U.S. dollars) will be pumped into the economy before the end of financial year on June 30.


Vietnam's Ministry of Health on Thursday afternoon confirmed five new cases of novel COVID-19 infection in the central Binh Thuan province, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 44.

The latest cases, including a 2-year-old baby and a 13-year-old boy, are all related to a 51-year-old female Vietnamese patient, who has traveled to the United States and transferred in South Korea and Qatar, the news agency reported. The female returned to Vietnam on March 2 and was confirmed to be infected by the health ministry on Tuesday.

A total of 16 out of the 44 confirmed cases in Vietnam have been discharged from hospital. The country has reported 28 new confirmed cases since March 6, and has 113 suspected cases with nearly 25,000 under quarantine as of Thursday, according to the ministry.

Vietnam has temporarily suspended visa waiver program for nationals of South Korea, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden.


Thailand on Thursday reported 11 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 70.

All of the new patients had socialized and shared drinks, health officials said, adding that a tourist from Hong Kong had been the source of the infection.

The Health Ministry further added that 34 patients have been discharged with 24 still in hospital, one of them in serious condition.


A 44-year old man tested positive for the COVID-19 in Sri Lanka on Thursday, making him the second local patient to be detected with the virus in the island country, the government information department said in a statement.

The patient had closely contacted with the first patient, who was a 52-year old tour guide and had tested positive for the virus earlier this week, the statement said.

The Health Ministry said both the patients were receiving treatment at the National Infectious Disease Hospital in the outskirts of Colombo and were being monitored by a special medical team.

Further, two more suspected patients had been admitted at the hospital earlier Thursday, with their results expected to be released soon, the Health Ministry said.


The Department of Health (DOH) in the Philippines said on Thursday that three more people have tested positive for the COVID-19, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 52 with two dead.

The DOH said the three new cases include two Filipino females, aged 69 and 79, and a 26-year-old Filipino male. The 79-year-old female patient had a history of travelling to Britain.

On Wednesday night, the DOH confirmed the death of a 67-year-old Filipino female who tested positive for COVID-19 disease.

The DOH said the patient died of severe pneumonia on Wednesday at a Manila hospital.

On Thursday afternoon, the Philippines Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, 74, was tested for COVID-19 disease after some Cabinet members and senators have gone on self-quarantine because they interacted with people who have the viral disease. The result of the test will be known after 48 hours.

While Duterte does not have the symptoms of the virus, the Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said they have opted to undergo the test to ensure that they are fit and healthy to perform their duties as government workers.

The country also raised the COVID-19 alert level to code red sub-level 2, with land, domestic sea and air travel to and from Metro Manila to be suspended from March 15 to April 14.


The confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 21 in Pakistan, with a new case reported in north Gilgit Baltistan (GB) region on Thursday.

The new patient, a 31-year-old man, returned from Iran last month and was isolated upon showing the symptoms of the disease. He was tested positive for the disease in lab tests, Faizullah Firaq, a spokesman of the GB told Xinhua.

He said the new case brought the total number of COVID-19 patients to three in isolation wards of Skardu district of the region, and all of them are in stable condition, whereas two more infected people from the region are being treated in a hospital in Islamabad.

On Wednesday, the country's foreign ministry said that a Pakistani in Italy died of COVID-19, and the Pakistani Embassy in the country is in touch with his family and the concerned Italian officials.

A medical emergency has been declared in the country's east Punjab province, the official Twitter account of the provincial government said, adding that three hospitals across the province with a capacity of 800 beds are declared quarantine for emergency.

Over 4,000 people, returning from Iran, are being quarantined along Pakistan-Iran border in Balochistan.


Malaysia on Thursday announced nine new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 158.

Another six patient had been declared cured and discharged, making for a total of 32 who have recovered in Malaysia. Three patients required respiratory assistance in intensive unites and are in stable condition, he added.

Participants of a recent mass religious event were urged to report to the local health authorities following participants being reported infected with COVID-19. The event, held from late February to early March outside the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, was reported to had some 10,000 participants.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Adham Baba confirmed Malaysia's first sporadic case of COVID-19. He explained that this meant the virus was detected in an isolated and specific cluster within the country that had not seen cases previously.

Adham said the new cases were part of a second wave, with the disease transmission occurring within the country rather than from individuals coming from abroad, adding that this could lead to a sudden spike in the number of cases in the country.


Brunei reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, following preliminary tests, bringing the country's total to 25 cases.

According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, among the 14 new cases, 10 cases were linked to the same religious gatherings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with the first confirmed patient, while three cases are close contacts of the confirmed patients and the last case is a 64-year-old man who had been to Kuala Lumpur and Cambodia.

A 53-year-old local man tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday after returning to the country from Kuala Lumpur on March 3, who possibly contracted the virus there during religious mass gatherings from Feb. 28 to March 1.


The Maldives government on Thursday declared a state of public health emergency for the first time in its history in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The announcement was made by Health Minister Abdulla Ameen who holds discretionary powers to declare such emergencies under Maldives' Public Health Act.

The state of public health emergency is to last 30 days starting March 12.

Maldives has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has set up a quarantine centre at a tourist resort on the northern Lhaviyani Atoll.


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