Indonesia to finalize emergency COVID-19 measures on Wednesday

Indonesia to finalize emergency COVID-19 measures on Wednesday
Authorities are mulling whether to keep the tighter restrictions for a week or two weeks. (Reuters)
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Updated 30 June 2021

Indonesia to finalize emergency COVID-19 measures on Wednesday

Indonesia to finalize emergency COVID-19 measures on Wednesday
  • The president has previously resisted calls from health experts for full

JAKARTA: Indonesia is finalizing emergency social restrictions aimed a containing a surge in coronavirus cases in the world’s fourth most populous country, President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday.
“Today it will be finalized because the spike is very high,” the president, popularly known as Jokowi told an event hosted by the Indonesian chamber of commerce, noting the restrictions would be applied on the islands of Java and Bali.
Authorities are mulling whether to keep the tighter restrictions for a week or two weeks, Jokowi said, without saying when he expected to announce the new measure.
Indonesia has reported record rates of COVID-19 infections of more than 20,000 in recent days, in a new wave fueled by the emergence of highly transmissible virus variants and increased mobility after the Muslim fasting month.
Movement curbs were tightened last week in so called “red zone” areas where cases have jumped, but health experts said these have not been sufficient to stop the spread of the virus.
The hospital bed occupancy ratio was 72 percent nationally, Jokowi said, but local authorities say rates were higher in several cities including Jakarta, where medical emergency units have been shifted to tents outside hospitals.
“I ask that we all be careful and don’t let our guard down. Don’t just talk about the economy, while we don’t see the health aspect,” Jokowi said.
The president has previously resisted calls from health experts for full lockdowns and warned last week that curbs should be implemented so that they avoid “killing” the economy.
Jokowi on Wednesday also pledged to accelerate the country’s vaccination campaign to achieve a target of one million doses per day in July and two million in August.
“There is no bargaining,” he said, noting vaccination rates had fallen short at 200,000 to 300,000 shots per day recently.
Just 13 million Indonesia have received two vaccine shots. Out of its population of more than 270 million, 181.5 million are set to be vaccinated by January 2022.
Indonesia reported 20,467 more infections on Tuesday and 463 more deaths, bringing the total to 2.16 million cases and over 58,000 deaths.


Taiwan to mandate COVID-19 vaccination proof for entertainment venues

Taiwan to mandate COVID-19 vaccination proof for entertainment venues
Updated 16 sec ago

Taiwan to mandate COVID-19 vaccination proof for entertainment venues

Taiwan to mandate COVID-19 vaccination proof for entertainment venues
TAIPEI: Taiwan will mandate the use of passes that provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry into entertainment venues, the government said on Thursday, as it seeks to reduce infection risks while tackling a small rise in domestic omicron cases.
The Central Epidemic Command Center said that from Friday entry into venues including bars and night clubs would require proof of full vaccination, either by showing a physical vaccine card or a new digital card.
The center said the move was needed to minimize the risk of community transmission as Taiwan deals with a small number of domestic infections of the omicron variant.
More than 70 percent of people in Taiwan have received two vaccine doses and booster shots are currently being rolled out, though only around 10 percent of residents have had their third shot so far.
Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to strict border measures enacted early on and a highly efficient tracing system.
It has reported 18,041 cases to date out of a population of 23.5 million.

Beijing says it warned away US warship in South China Sea

Beijing says it warned away US warship in South China Sea
Updated 39 min 11 sec ago

Beijing says it warned away US warship in South China Sea

Beijing says it warned away US warship in South China Sea
  • China: USS Benfold ‘illegally’ sailed into Chinese territorial waters without permission
  • South China Sea one of many flashpoints in the testy relationship between China and the US

BEIJING: Chinese forces followed and warned away a US warship which entered waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, the country’s military said on Thursday, in the latest uptick in tensions in the disputed waterway.
The Southern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army said the USS Benfold “illegally” sailed into Chinese territorial waters without permission, violating the country’s sovereignty, and that Chinese naval and air forces tracked the ship.
“We solemnly demand that the US side immediately stop such provocative actions, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of unforeseen events,” it added.
The US Navy said the Benfold “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Island, consistent with international law.”
“At the conclusion of the operation, USS Benfold exited the excessive claim and continued operations in the South China Sea,” 7th Fleet spokesman Mark Langford said.
The United States frequently carries out what it calls freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea to challenge Chinese territorial claims.
China has established military outposts on artificial islands in the waters, which are crossed by vital shipping lanes and also contain gas fields and rich fishing grounds.
The South China Sea has become one of many flashpoints in the testy relationship between China and the United States, with Washington rejecting what it calls unlawful territorial claims by Beijing.
China claims vast swaths of the South China Sea. Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines all have overlapping claims.


New Zealand says it won’t use lockdowns when omicron spreads

New Zealand says it won’t use lockdowns when omicron spreads
Updated 20 January 2022

New Zealand says it won’t use lockdowns when omicron spreads

New Zealand says it won’t use lockdowns when omicron spreads
  • About 93 percent of New Zealanders aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated
  • New Zealand has managed to contain the spread of the delta variant, with an average of about 20 new cases each day

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand is among the few remaining countries to have avoided any outbreaks of the omicron variant — but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday an outbreak was inevitable and the nation would tighten restrictions as soon as one was detected.
But she also said that New Zealand would not impose the lockdowns that it has used previously, including for the delta variant.
“This stage of the pandemic is different to what we have dealt with before. omicron is more transmissible,” Ardern said. “That is going to make it harder to keep it out, but it will also make it more challenging to control once it arrives. But just like before, when COVID changes, we change.”
Ardern said that within 24 to 48 hours of omicron being detected in the community, the nation would move into its “red” setting. That would allow businesses to remain open and domestic travel to continue, but would require schoolchildren to wear masks and limit crowds to 100 people.
Currently most of New Zealand is at the “orange” setting, which requires some mask wearing and proof of vaccination but doesn’t limit crowd sizes.
About 93 percent of New Zealanders aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated and 52 percent have had a booster shot. The country has just begun vaccinating children aged between 5 and 11.
New Zealand has managed to contain the spread of the delta variant, with an average of about 20 new cases each day. But it has seen an increasing number of people arriving into the country and going into mandatory quarantine who are infected with omicron.
That has put strain on the quarantine system and prompted the government to limit access for returning citizens while it decides what to do about reopening its borders, angering many people who want to return to New Zealand.
Opposition leader Christopher Luxon said Ardern had planned poorly for omicron and had managed to secure into the country less than one rapid COVID-19 test per person.
“That is a stunning indictment on the government’s lazy lack of planning,” he said.
Ardern said the most important thing that people could do was to get a booster shot, which would reduce the severity of an omicron infection and allow most people to recover at home rather than needing hospital care.


Thailand to resume quarantine waiver for vaccinated arrivals in February

Thailand to resume quarantine waiver for vaccinated arrivals in February
Updated 20 January 2022

Thailand to resume quarantine waiver for vaccinated arrivals in February

Thailand to resume quarantine waiver for vaccinated arrivals in February
  • All arrivals must take a COVID-19 test on arrival and five days later
BANGKOK: Thailand will resume its ‘Test & Go’ quarantine waiver for vaccinated arrivals starting on Feb 1, the country’s coronavirus taskforce said on Thursday.
All arrivals must take a COVID-19 test on arrival and five days later, spokesperson Taweesin Wisanuyothin said at briefing, during which additional “Sandbox” areas were announced, a similar scheme to revive its battered tourism sector, where visitors must stay for one week in a designated location.

Hong Kong shuts secondary schools over COVID-19 fears

Hong Kong shuts secondary schools over COVID-19 fears
Updated 20 January 2022

Hong Kong shuts secondary schools over COVID-19 fears

Hong Kong shuts secondary schools over COVID-19 fears
  • The government halted classes in primary schools and kindergartens early this month

HONG KONG: Hong Kong will suspend face-to-face teaching in secondary schools from January 24, the Education Bureau said on Thursday, because of a rising number of coronavirus infections in several schools in the Chinese-ruled territory.
The government halted classes in primary schools and kindergartens early this month, and imposed curbs, such as a ban on restaurant dining after 6 p.m. and the closure of venues such as gyms, cinemas and beauty salons.