A man has a sample collected at a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, Jan 8, 2022. (MARK BAKER / AP)
CANBERRA / TOKYO / SINGAPORE / MANILA / HANOI / YANGON / ISLAMABAD – Australia has reported an almost 50 percent increase in new coronavirus cases amid warnings of a new wave of infections.
The federal Department of Health on Friday published its weekly update on COVID-19 in Australia, revealing there were an average of 7,809 new cases recorded per day over the last week.
It represents a 47 percent increase from the previous week, when there were an average of 5,300 new cases each day.
"Over the last week, 54,661 cases of COVID-19 were reported across Australia," the department said in the update.
Danielle McMullen, vice-president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), described the spike in cases as "alarming," calling for the government to launch targeted campaigns countering health misinformation.
"We're certainly seeing an alarming increase in cases over the past couple of weeks," she told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television on Friday.
"And so it really is important we've got that clear messaging out to people about steps they can take to reduce their chances of infection and to get treatment if they're in those high risk groups that are eligible for COVID treatment."
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Paul Kelly recently urged Australians to take additional precautions to maximize their protection.
"It's very important Australians are aware that there is an increase in cases and there are some things people should consider doing," he said.
"Wearing masks indoors, if sick, avoid going to high risk places and stay at home if possible."
The Japanese government on Thursday decided on a policy to allow each prefectural government to declare stepped-up coronavirus measures, amid growing concerns about the possible arrival of the eighth infection wave.
Japan's health ministry also decided at a meeting to revise the current five-scale alert of infection status to a four-scale one. A level similar to the seventh wave or higher will be rated as Level 3, which means infections continue to expand.
The country logged 78,268 new infections nationwide on the same day, up more than 10,000 from a week ago, with 84 new fatalities among COVID-19 patients.
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Tokyo confirmed 7,969 daily cases, with Hokkaido reporting 8,457 and Kanagawa prefecture 5,190.
According to the health ministry, Hokkaido, the northernmost main island, saw the highest rise among the 47 prefectures with 850 cases per 100,000 people in the most recent week, adding that in areas with colder weather, infections could spread faster due to the difficulty in implementing ventilation.
People walk down Takeshita Street in the popular Harajuku area of Tokyo on Sept 23, 2022. (RICHARD A. BROOKS / AFP)
Shigeru Omi, who heads the panel of experts advising the health ministry, said Thursday the number of new infections is now on an upward trend across Japan, adding that it can be said that the country is now entering the eighth wave of infections.
On Wednesday, the ministry's experts panel warned that the latest wave of infections might match or exceed the previous wave's peak of more than 260,000 daily cases seen in August.
READ MORE: Visa-free travel brings fears of COVID-19 rebound in Japan
Pakistan has recorded 41 more COVID-19 cases, the country's ministry of health said on Friday.
The overall tally of infected people climbed to 1,574,549 across the South Asian country with fresh cases, according to the data released by the ministry.
A total of 30,629 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with no more death reported on Thursday, according to the ministry's statistics.
On Thursday, 5,501 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity rate stood at 0.75 percent.
There are 55 patients in critical condition in the country.
South Korea recorded 54,519 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Thursday compared to 24 hours ago, taking the total number of infections to 26,091,539, the health authorities said Friday.
The daily caseload was down from 55,365 in the previous day, but it was higher than 43,449 tallied a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
For the past week, the daily average number of new cases was 47,268.
Among the newly reported infections, 49 were imported cases, lifting the total to 70,320.
The latest number of infected people who were in critical condition stood at 345, up 22 from the previous day.
Forty more deaths were confirmed from the pandemic, bringing the death toll to 29,571.
People board a bus in Singapore on Nov 29, 2021, under the vaccinated travel lane for border-crossing passengers to Malaysia's southern state of Johor. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)
Malaysia reported 3,436 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Thursday, bringing the national total to 4,940,456, according to the health ministry.
There are three new imported cases, with 3,433 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.
Another eight new deaths have been reported, pushing the death toll to 36,522.
The ministry reported 4,292 new recoveries, lifting the total number of cured and discharged to 4,869,969.
There are 33,965 active cases, with 92 being held in intensive care and 60 of those in need of assisted breathing.
The country reported 4,037 vaccine doses administered on Thursday and 86.1 percent of the population have received at least one dose, 84.3 percent are fully vaccinated and 49.8 percent have received the first booster and 1.7 percent have received the second booster.
People wearing face masks cross a road amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore May 14, 2021. (CAROLINE CHIA / REUTERS)
Singapore reported 2,765 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total tally to 2,134,319.
A total of 294 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 14 of them in intensive care units, according to statistics released by the country's Ministry of Health.
No new deaths from COVID-19 were reported on Thursday, leaving the total death toll unchanged at 1,693.
The Philippines reported 1,267 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, pushing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 4,014,039.
The Department of Health said the number of active cases rose to 16,526, while seven more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 64,329.
READ MORE: Singapore reports 2,686 new COVID-19 cases
Metro Manila, the capital region with over 13 million people, tallied 283 new cases.
The Philippines reported its highest COVID-19 single-day tally of 39,004 new cases on Jan 15. The country, with a population of around 110 million, has fully vaccinated over 73.6 million people.
India reported 842 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, taking the total tally to 44,664,810 in the South Asian country.
According to federal health ministry data released on Friday morning, with the reporting of fresh cases, India's active caseload currently stands at 12,752.
The country also logged six related deaths during the past 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll to 530,520 since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry said.
The ministry said 44,121,538 COVID-19 patients have been cured and discharged from hospitals in India, of whom 1,271 were discharged during the past 24 hours.
According to the health ministry, the cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the country has exceeded 2 billion doses and until Friday morning 2,197,793,278 doses were administered.
A cumulative total of 902,551,893 samples have been tested for COVID-19 up to Nov 10, the health ministry said.
A health worker takes sample from a man for COVID-19 test in Hanoi, Vietnam on Jan 6, 2022. (HAU DINH / AP)
Vietnam recorded 416 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, down by 52 from Wednesday, according to its ministry of health.
All the new cases were locally transmitted, said the ministry.
The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 11,507,540. The country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Thursday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,166.
As of Thursday, there were 57 severe cases in need of assisted breathing in the Southeast Asian country, according to the ministry.
READ MORE: Vietnam sees lowest daily count of COVID-19 cases in a year
Nationwide, 10,605,468 COVID-19 patients, or over 92 percent of the total infections, have recovered.
Approximately 262.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country, including over 222.1 million shots to people aged 18 and above, said the ministry.
Myanmar confirmed 61 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 632,522, according to the Ministry of Health on Thursday.
The ministry said in a statement that health authorities tested 10,064 people for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, and the daily positivity rate was 0.61 percent.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the country remained unchanged at 19,486 on Thursday as no new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.
ALSO READ: South Korea reports 55,365 new COVID-19 cases
The total number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in the country reached 606,791, including 67 new recoveries on Thursday.
The Southeast Asian country detected its first COVID-19 cases in March 2020.