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S. Korea braces for bed shortages as cases near 9-month high

A medical staff (left) wearing protective gear takes samples for the COVID -19 test from a visitor at a testing station in Seoul on Nov 27, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

ISTANBUL / MELBOURNE / DUBAI / BANGKOK / SEOUL / MANILA –  South Korea reported more than 500 new coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day on Friday, a level not seen in nearly nine months, as a third wave of infections spreads nationwide and authorities scrambled to provide more hospital beds.

The daily tally of 569 came a day after the numbers hit the highest level since March 6.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun warned that daily infections could swell to 1,000 and bring a greater crisis including hospital bed shortages if social distancing measures and other restrictions failed to stop the contagion.

“The situation is extremely serious and acute, as all of the 17 metropolitan cities and provinces and especially all the 25 districts in Seoul are reporting new cases,” Chung told a meeting on COVID-19 responses.

Australia

Victoria has gone 28 days with no new cases of the virus, suggesting Australia will be among a handful of western nations that can look forward to Christmas with limited restrictions on family gatherings. The state reported a daily peak of about 700 cases in early August.

The 28-day run is “an extraordinary achievement psychologically as well as practically, in terms of opening up the economy,” said Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases physician and associate professor of medicine at the Australian National University in Canberra.

India

India’s COVID-19 tally reached 9,309,787 on Friday as 43,082 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry.

According to the data, the death toll mounted to 135,715 as 492 COVID-19 patients died since Thursday morning.

This is the first time in the past few days when the number of deaths per day fell below 500-mark.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit headquarters of three vaccine manufacturers, Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat BioTech and Zydus Cadila on November 28, local media reports said Friday.

Zydus Cadila’s COVID-19 vaccine is likely to enter phase III trials next month and a launch is expected by March if things go according to the plan, The Economic Times reported.

Iraq

Iraq reported 2,483 new COVID-19 cases and 39 more deaths, bringing the total nationwide infections to 544,670 and the death toll to 12,125.

The Iraqi Health Ministry also announced 2,322 more recovered cases, raising its total recoveries to 474,376.

READ MORE: 10m Indian health workers to get first crack at vaccines

An empty street in Adelaide during day one of total lockdown across the state on Nov 18, 2020. (BRENTON EDWARDS / AFP)

Israel

Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 505 new COVID-19 cases and one more death, bringing the total infections in the country to 332,420 and the death toll to 2,827.

The number of recoveries in Israel rose to 320,078, with the addition of 157 new ones, while the number of active cases dropped to 9,515.

On Friday morning, major shopping malls, markets and museums in Israel will reopen for the first time to ease the full lockdown imposed on Sept. 18. Under the Israeli Corona Cabinet’s decision, these places will be opened under restrictions, such as preventing gatherings, especially at the entrances.

Japan

Tokyo posted its highest one-day number of coronavirus infections to date, with 570 cases recorded, on the final day before a request for bars and restaurants to close early comes into effect on Saturday.

Some of the increase is likely due to a three-day weekend through Monday, which typically delays testing and recording of cases. The seven-day average of cases stands at 411, still lower than earlier in the week. The city also reported the most tests ever conducted in a single day, at almost 10,000.

Severe COVID -19 cases in the capital, which the local government is tracking closely as its yardstick for requesting restrictions on businesses, rose to 61 from 60 the day before.

Japan’s Imperial Household Agency has cancelled an annual New Year’s event set for Jan. 2, at which Emperor Naruhito and other imperial family members were to greet well-wishers, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have decided not to hold (the event) from the viewpoint of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus,” the agency said on its website on Friday.

As the coronavirus resurges in Japan, politicians and experts are growing more divided on the impact that a subsidy program encouraging people to travel is having on the spread of COVID-19.

Jordan

Jordan reported 5,000 new coronavirus cases and 67 more deaths, raising its tally of infections to 203,021 and its total deaths from the virus to 2,509. Its tally of recoveries rose by 4,469 to 135,650.

Kuwait

Kuwait reported 330 new COVID-19 cases and one more death, raising the tally of infections to 141,547 and the death toll to 872 in the country.

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced the recovery of 717 more patients, taking the total recoveries in the country to 134,750.

ALSO READ: Iran’s COVID-19 cases top 900,000

Lebanon

Lebanon reported 1,859 new infections and 24 more deaths, raising its tally of COVID-19 cases to 122,200 and the death toll to 974. Its tally of recoveries increased by 916 to 72,152.

Mongolia 

Mongolia reported 26 more COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the nationwide count to 738, said the country’s National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD).

The latest confirmed cases were all locally transmitted, Amarjargal Ambaselmaa, head of the NCCD’s surveillance department, said at a daily press conference.

Mongolia has so far reported 311 domestically transmitted cases, notably in the capital city of Ulan Bator and the provinces of Selenge, Darkhan-Uul, Govisumber, Orkhon and Dornogovi.

New Zealand

New Zealand reported seven cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation on Friday. There are no new cases in the community.

Six of the cases are members of the Pakistan men’s cricket team who have tested positive for COVID-19 at their managed isolation facility in Christchurch. Fifty-three members of the squad arrived in Christchurch on Nov. 24 and were tested on day one. These cases are the results of those tests, according to the Ministry of Health.

All cases are being moved to quarantine rooms within the facility. Members of the team will be tested a minimum of four times while in managed isolation, said a ministry statement.

Palestine

Palestine on Thursday reported 1,906 new COVID-19 cases and 18 new deaths, bringing the total infections to 91,464 and the death toll to 767.

Samer al-Asaad, director of preventive medicine at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, told Xinhua that the significant increase in the COVID-19 cases in Palestine was related to the coronavirus situation in the neighboring states.

Qatar

In Qatar, the health ministry confirmed 215 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 138,066.

It added that the tally of recoveries rose by 248 to 135,198, while its total fatalities remained unchanged at 237 for the second consecutive day.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia reported 322 new COVID-19 infections and 15 more deaths, taking the kingdom’s total cases to 356,389 and its death toll to 5,840. The tally of recoveries in the kingdom rose by 428 to 345,215.

Singapore

Singapore will tighten the border control measures on travelers from Finland and Turkey, requiring them to serve 14-day isolation at dedicated facilities upon arrival in Singapore.

The announcement was made given the increase in cases in Finland and Turkey, according to a press release from the Ministry of Health on Thursday.

Starting from 23:59 local time of Nov. 28, all visitors who have a travel history in the past 14 days to Finland and Turkey will be required to serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated SHN facilities, MOH said.

Samoa 

Samoa reported on Friday one more COVID-19 case, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to two in the island nation.

According to Samoa Observer, Samoa’s Director General of Health Leausa Take Naseri said on Friday that a 70-year-old Samoan man has tested positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine after arriving in Samoa on a repatriation flight from Auckland and Melbourne two weeks ago.

He tested negative upon his arrival but the result of the second test was positive.

Thailand

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday emphasized on the urgency of purchasing COVID-19 vaccines, on the eve of inking a contract between Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute and vaccine developer AstraZeneca Plc.

“Thailand managed to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, and that was the result of cooperation from all state and private agencies,” said Prayut via state television.

“If we had lax effort in containing the virus, it would have taken a huge toll on Thailand’s national health system and a grim economy that was already suffering from serious drought and a slow global economy in the pre-pandemic era,” he said.

The Philippines

The Philippines signed a deal with AstraZeneca Plc to buy 2.6 million coronavirus vaccine doses, amid questions about the vaccine’s trial results.

Philippine companies will buy the vaccine doses, and donate half to government, presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said during the virtual signing. The vaccines may arrive in the Southeast Asian nation by May or June and help about 1.5 million people, he added.

The private sector is in talks with AstraZeneca to buy 1 million more doses, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at the same event.

The UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported 1,305 new coronavirus infections and one more death, bringing its total COVID-19 cases to 163,967 and its death toll to 564. The tally of recoveries in the UAE rose by 826 to 151,870.

Turkey

Turkey’s daily number of coronavirus deaths hit a record high for a fourth consecutive day with 174 in the past 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed on Thursday, and it also reported the highest number of new daily infections yet.

Data showed that Turkey recorded 29,132 COVID-19 cases, including asymptomatic ones, on Thursday. From July until Wednesday, Ankara had only reported symptomatic cases, of which there were 6,876 on Thursday, raising the total number to 474,606. The total number of deaths stood at 13,014.

Thursday’s new case tally was also the highest daily number reported since the beginning of the pandemic but historical data and the cumulative number of all cases is still not available.

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