Making news

COVID-19: new variants continue to ravage Southeast Asia

The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) on August 6 reported 10,623 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,638,345.

The death toll climbed to 28,673 after 247 more patients died of the viral disease, the DOH added.

The daily caseload and death toll are both the highest since April.

Meanwhile, the rising new cases in Malaysia are due to new variants such as Delta, a senior health official said.

"The decline in cases may take sometime but more importantly, we want to see a decrease in terms of serious patient admissions into wards and those who die,” said Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim.

Ministry of Health (MoH) secretary-general Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, said: “This month, we expect the number of genome sequencing to increase as we have established a consortium of seven laboratories in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and at universities.

It will increase another 1,000 genome sequencing a month and thus, we will be able to have more detailed information on the distribution of the variants in our country," he said.

Cambodia confirmed another 67 new cases of the Delta variant on August 6, raising the country’s total number of the Delta variant cases to 327, the health ministry said in a statement.

Laboratory testing by the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia during the past two days found COVID-19 variant Delta on 25 local residents and 42 travelers from overseas, the ministry said.

The local cases were detected in capital Phnom Penh and the provinces of Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Svay Rieng and Stung Treng, it added.

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo  Hun Sen has ordered intensifying COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

The Royal Phnom Penh Hospital has been authorised by the government to import and control the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines from the United States.

Meanwhile, Laos recorded 267 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 7,778.

Given the surge in cases, the Lao government has decided to continue putting Vientiane under lockdown. Other localities like Savannakhet, Luang Prabang, and Bokeo have also decided to impose stringent measures to prevent pandemic spread.

Laos has increased the quarantine period for those entering Laos from 14 days to 28 days following cases of community spread by those leaving quarantine.

Singapore will allow people to dine at eateries in groups of up to five from August 10 if they are fully vaccinated, in the first step of the country's roadmap towards reopening its economy.

Those who are not vaccinated but have valid negative pre-event test results will be allowed to join such groups of five, as well as those who have recovered from COVID-19.

The cap on group sizes for social gatherings will be raised from two to five, and households will be able to receive up to five distinct visitors.

This easing of measures is possible because Singapore expects around 70 percent of its population to have received both vaccine doses by National Day, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on August 6.

If the situation remains stable, permitted event sizes and capacity limits for malls and attractions will further increase nine days later, on August 19./.