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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of June 13 to June 19, Argentine lab produces Sputnik V vaccine

Indonesia logs 12,990 cases; TSMC and Foxconn to buy vaccines for Taiwan

Sputnik V vaccine    © Reuters

Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the coronavirus that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Cumulative global cases have reached 177,761,738, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 3,849,294.

For more information about the spread of COVID-19 and the progress of vaccination around the world, please see our interactive charts and maps.

-- Global coronavirus tracker charts

-- Status of vaccinations around the world

-- World map of spreading mutated strains

-- Distribution, duration, safety: challenges emerge in vaccine race



Saturday, June 19 (Tokyo time)

12:25 p.m. Argentine laboratory Richmond says it has produced almost half a million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, the first made in Argentina, according to Reuters. The vaccines await approval from the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology and Russia's Gamaleya Institute for their release, Richmond said in a tweet.

Friday, June 18

11:10 p.m. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says restaurants and pubs in Japan's capital will be allowed to serve alcohol again from Monday following the lifting of the coronavirus state of emergency, but restrictions will remain. Read more.

6:30 p.m. Indonesia reports 12,990 new infections, the highest number since late January, taking its overall total to 1,963,266. It also reports 290 new deaths, the most in a day since April 4, bringing total fatalities to 54,043.

4:30 p.m. Singapore will allow two people to dine together in eateries from Monday, loosening restrictions at a slower pace than the initially planned number of five, the health ministry says. Gyms and fitness studios can also open up indoor exercise in groups of up to two people. Barring new outbreaks, the authorities will allow such activities to increase to group sizes of up to five from mid-July, according to the ministry.

Singapore to allow two people to eat together in restaurants from Monday.   © Reuters

4:24 p.m. Taiwan will allow Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Foxconn to buy 10 million doses of COVID vaccines on behalf of the government, a government spokesperson says, as companies race to safeguard the island's flagship tech industry from the pandemic.

3:54 p.m. The Indonesian stock market suspends trading in Garuda Indonesia after the nation's flagship air carrier defaulted on coupon payments of a $500 million Islamic bond. The halt is the latest page in the ailing airline's struggle caused by fallout from the pandemic and raises questions over the airline's survival amid the continuing spread of COVID-19.

3:15 p.m. Taiwan reports 187 new domestic infections, up from the previous day's figure of 175.

1:00 p.m. India reports 62,480 new infections over the past 24 hours, slightly down from 67,208 a day earlier.

11:50 a.m. A further 240,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from Moderna will arrive in Taiwan on Friday afternoon, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen says, boosting the island's slow vaccination program. Only around 5% of Taiwan's 23.5 million people have received at least one shot so far, with orders delayed by global shortages as the island deals with a spike in domestic infections.

11:30 a.m. The Japanese government's top medical adviser on COVID-19 suggests holding the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start next month, behind closed doors. Shigeru Omi, an infectious disease expert, told Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto that holding the games without spectators would be "least risky and desirable," but to otherwise set tighter limits than the present 50% capacity for public gatherings. Omi also said organizers should consider changing the rules to bar spectators if there are signs of an outbreak during the games.

10:00 a.m. China reports 23 new infections for Thursday, up from 19 a day earlier. Of the new cases, one was a local infection in southern Guangdong Province, while the rest were imported cases. The number of new asymptomatic infections slightly rose to 25 from 24 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases.

9:26 a.m. Women's tennis world No. 2 Naomi Osaka will skip the Wimbledon championships and focus instead on the Tokyo Olympics slated to open on July 23. "Naomi won't be playing Wimbledon this year. She is taking some personal time with friends and family. She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans," her agent told Kyodo News via email.

9:00 a.m. Japan's core consumer prices, which exclude volatile fresh food costs, gained 0.1% in May from a year earlier, their first rise since March 2020, government data shows. The increase was largely due to a bounce in electricity and gasoline prices from last year's pandemic-driven plunge.

A Carnival cruise ship is docked in Long Beach, California, in the U.S.: The U.S. CDC eased restrictions on the cruise industry for vaccinated passengers.

5:20 a.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eases its warnings for cruises by a notch from the highest level that led to a sailing hiatus, and recommended that only fully vaccinated people take trips when sailing resumes from U.S. ports in a few days. The CDC also recommended that travelers get tested one to three days before their trips and three to five days afterward.

12:30 a.m. The U.S. will invest $3.2 billion to develop antiviral pills for COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services says. The money will speed up clinical trials of a few promising drug candidates. If all goes well, some of those pills might become available by the end of this year. The aim is to replicate the success of HIV treatments to turn COVID-19 into a manageable disease.

"The focus was to reinvigorate the nation's antiviral program over the next three to five years. What's become more clear, as the pandemic has come into focus, is we have to do it this fall," says David Kessler, chief science officer for the White House COVID-19 response team.

Thursday, June 17

6:35 p.m. Indonesia reports 12,624 new infections for the past 24 hours, up from 9,944 the day before and the highest one-day increase since late January. Indonesia also reports 277 new deaths, bringing the country's totals to 1,950,276 cases with 53,753 deaths.

6:00 p.m. The Japanese government has decided to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency in seven prefectures, while keeping some restrictions in place amid concerns about a rebound in infections ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The emergency will end on Sunday in Tokyo, Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Okinawa will remain under the measure until July 11.

4:00 p.m. More than 350 Indonesian doctors have contracted COVID-19 despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been hospitalized, officials say, as concerns rise about the efficacy of some vaccines against more virulent strains of the virus. Most of the doctors were asymptomatic and self-isolating at home, says Badai Ismoyo, head of the Kudus district health office in Central Java, but dozens were in hospital with high fevers and declining oxygen saturation levels.

2:30 p.m. Australia will recommend only people over 60 receive AstraZeneca's vaccine, the country's Minister for Health Greg Hunt says, as a tiny fraction of those who have received the inoculation have developed blood clots. Australia has administered 3.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and it has been linked to 60 blood clot cases, the government has said. Two people have died, which Hunt said drove the policy shift.

1:45 p.m. India reports 67,208 new cases in the last 24 hours, the 10th consecutive day with under 100,000 infections. The country's total infections are now at 29.7 million. Deaths rose by 2,330 to 381,903.

1:00 p.m. Japan plans to issue so-called vaccine passports from around mid- to late July as more activities around the world open up to people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato says. "To prepare for prompt issuance, we will first issue the vaccination certificates by paper but will also make consideration for their issuance in the digital format," he said.

Japan intends to issue COVID-19 inoculation certificates in July to vaccinated residents traveling abroad, hoping to give business travel and other economic activities a boost.   © Reuters

12:40 p.m. Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura says a panel of government-appointed experts has approved a plan to downgrade the state of emergency in seven prefectures, including Tokyo, which will host the Olympics from July 23. Some warned of a likely rebound and stressed the need to respond without hesitation through further curbs or even the reinstatement of a state of emergency, Nishimura says.

11:00 a.m. South Korea reports 540 new infections, slightly down from 545 from a day earlier, bringing the cumulative total to 149,731 cases, with 1994 deaths.

10:00 a.m. China reports 19 new cases for Wednesday, down from 21 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 15 were imported infections originating from overseas. All four local cases were in the southeastern province of Guangdong.

8:30 a.m. New Zealand's gross domestic product rose 1.6% in the three months through March, government data shows, well above a Reuters poll forecast of 0.5%. A solid rebound in construction activity and strong domestic spending more than offset the loss of international tourism over the summer period, according to Kiwibank Chief Economist Jarrod Kerr.

Vietnamese officials welcome the arrival of 1 million vaccine doses donated by Japan at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport on June 16. (Photo by Tomoya Onishi)

3:25 a.m. Japan's donation of 1 million vaccine doses to Vietnam has arrived at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport. The shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine, produced in Japan, marks the second such donation by Japan, which sent 1.24 million doses to Taiwan earlier this month. The percentage of Vietnam's population to receive at least one dose has yet to reach 2%.

Vietnam reported 423 new cases on Wednesday, the highest number of new infections reported since the start of its latest outbreak late in April. Most cases were in Ho Chi Minh City, the business hub, and the northern province of Bac Giang, home to suppliers to global tech firms.

Wednesday, June 16

9:54 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha says Thailand will "fully reopen within 120 days" during a televised address. The unilateral decision has been taken on the basis of "signed reservation and supply contracts for 105.5 million [COVID-19 vaccine] doses to be delivered this year ... putting us ahead of our target for vaccine supplies," he says.

8:19 p.m. The Japanese government is set to ease COVID-19 restrictions in Tokyo and other prefectures next week, after lifting a state of emergency ahead of the Olympic Games in about a month.

6:45 p.m. The Japanese government is looking to allow up to 10,000 spectators at Tokyo Olympics events in areas where it has lifted its COVID-19 state of emergency.

6:07 p.m. Indonesia reports 9,944 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 8,161 for the previous day and the largest jump since late February. Indonesia also reports 196 new deaths, bringing the country's totals to 1,937,652 infections and 53,476 deaths.

5:14 p.m. Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says China has agreed to contribute 500,000 vaccine doses made by Sinovac BioTech. "This timely contribution will bolster the vaccination process and assist the ongoing rollout of Malaysia's National COVID-19 Immunization Program," the minister says.

3:32 p.m. Sydney has recorded its first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 in more than a month, stoking concerns of a fresh wave of infections. The state of New South Wales says it is not clear how the unnamed man in his 60s contracted the virus, but he is a driver who occasionally transported overseas airline crew. State authorities warn the man visited the cinema and more than a dozen cafes and shops in Sydney's eastern suburbs, which include Bondi Beach, while potentially infectious.

A man gets his photograph taken in front of Taj Mahal in Agra, India, in September 2020: Authorities have reopened the monument to tourists on a limited basis to revive India's economy.   © Reuters

3:23 p.m. India's Taj Mahal reopens to the public as the country, still reeling from a disastrous second wave of the pandemic, rushes to lift restrictions to revitalize its economy. The 17th-century monument in the northern city of Agra, was closed in early April as India introduced strict lockdown measures to contain a surge in COVID-19 infections. Only 650 tourists will be allowed inside the premises at a time. Th monument normally attracts over 20,000 people per day, on average.

2:02 p.m. China tripled the number of daily COVID-19 vaccinations in June, inoculating 44% of its population with at least one dose, but its health experts warn against a quick border reopening, citing an uneven rollout and the low rate of full vaccinations. China administered 17.3 million doses per day in June on average, up sharply from 4.8 million in April, as it expanded the list of approved vaccines to seven by adding three more locally developed shots, and continued to boost production.

2:00 p.m. U.S. biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' COVID-19 antibody cocktail reduces deaths in hospitalized patients who have not mounted their own antibody response, a large British study published on Wednesday finds. The therapy, Regen-cov, has been granted emergency use authorization for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 in the U.S.

A U.K. study finds that the U.S. drugmaker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals's COVID-19 antibody cocktail cuts deaths in hospitalized patients who have not mounted their own antibody response.   © Reuters

12:55 p.m. Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne, will allow its 5 million residents to travel more than 25 km from home and end mandatory mask-wearing outdoors, starting Friday, despite the city fighting a stubborn COVID-19 outbreak. The city exited a two-week hard lockdown late last week, its fourth since the pandemic began.

12:41 p.m. India reports 62,224 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed. The South Asian country's total COVID-19 caseload now stands at 29.63 million, while total fatalities are at 379,573, the data showed. There were 2,542 deaths overnight attributed to the virus.

9:45 a.m. China reports 21 new COVID-19 cases for June 15, up from 20 cases a day earlier. The National Health Commission says in its daily bulletin that all of the new cases were imported infections originating overseas, with 15 of the total located in the southeastern province of Guangdong. The number of new asymptomatic infections reached 36, up from 25 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases.

9:32 a.m. Japan's exports rise at the fastest pace since 1980 in May and a key gauge of capital spending grew, helping the world's third-largest economy offset sluggish domestic demand as COVID-19 vaccinations boost business activity in key markets. The jump in exports largely reflected a rebound in shipments from last year's pandemic-driven plunge. Ministry of Finance data on Wednesday show exports grew 49.6%, year-on-year in May, versus a 51.3% increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll, led by U.S.-bound car shipments.

8:16 a.m. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said the country's economy improved this year but called for measures to tackle the "tense" food situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and last year's typhoons, state media says. Kim said the overall economy had improved in the first half of the year, with the total industrial output growing 25% from a year before.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calls for measures to tackle the "tense" food situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and last year's typhoons.   © Reuters

2:00 a.m. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces the lifting of many coronavirus-related restrictions now that 70% of the state's adults have been vaccinated. Restaurants and theaters can pack customers in without capacity limits, for example, but federal mask mandates remain in place for public transit, health care facilities and many schools.

"This is a momentous day, and we deserve it because it has been a long, long road," Cuomo says.

"What does 70% mean? It means that we can now return to life as we know it," he says.

Tuesday, June 15

9:40 p.m. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard says the country will start rolling back some travel restrictions along its border with the U.S. now that vaccination rates are rising among local populations.

5:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 337 new cases, up from 209 a day earlier. The seven-day average of new cases in the Japanese capital stands at 375, down 7.9% from a week ago.

4:30 p.m. Japan's ruling coalition votes down a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's cabinet in the House of Representatives, deflecting criticism over the government's COVID-19 response and plans to push ahead with the Tokyo Olympics.

4:20 p.m. AstraZeneca says a study of its monoclonal antibody treatment, AZD7442, did not meet its main goal of preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in people recently exposed to the novel coronavirus. The drugmaker said participants in the trial were unvaccinated adults over the age of 18 with confirmed exposure to a person with the coronavirus within the previous eight days. AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 33% compared to a placebo, which was not statistically significant, the company said.

4:15 p.m. Japan's Daiichi Sankyo says it is halting testing of an existing drug for the treatment of COVID-19 over safety concerns. The drugmaker in March started a clinical trial in Japan of an inhaled form of nafamostat mesylate with about 80 COVID-19 patients. Nafamostat is used in the treatment of pancreatitis and has antiviral properties.

3:41 p.m. Malaysia's drug regulator has granted conditional approval to use vaccines manufactured by China's CanSino and ohnson & Johnson of the U.S., both of which are single-dose vaccines. The authorities have also approved use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 and older. Malaysia's immunization program is currently limited to those aged 18 and older.

3:10 p.m. Taiwan reports 132 new domestic infections, down from 185 a day earlier.

1:35 p.m. India reports 60,471 new cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest daily count since March 31, bringing the country's total to 29.57 million. Fatalities rose by 2,726 to 377,031.

11:30 a.m. Japan will donate one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Vietnam on Wednesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says. Tokyo is also considering donating vaccines to Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia in July. Earlier in June, Japan donated 1.24 million vaccine doses to Taiwan.

A member of Japan's Self-Defense Force gestures at a mass vaccination coronavirus disease (COVID-19) site in Tokyo on June 9.   © Reuters

11:00 a.m. The Japanese government will begin accepting appointments on Wednesday for people aged 64 and younger at large-scale vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka run by the Self-Defense Forces. Japan is trying to speed up its shot drive ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start on July 23, but seniors aged 65 and over have been slow to make appointments and there are still some slots available at the venues. Vaccines will be administered between June 17 and June 27.

10:35 a.m. Senior Olympics official John Coates arrives in Tokyo as organizers prepare to unveil their latest rules to control COVID-19 infections and the government ponders whether to extend the latest state of emergency. Coates, a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee and its point-man for the event, sparked a backlash last month when he said the games would go ahead even if Tokyo were under a state of emergency due to the pandemic.

9:55 a.m. China reports 20 new cases for Monday, down from 23 a day earlier. Of the new cases, two were local transmissions, down from four a day ago. All the new local cases were in southern Guangdong Province. China also reports 25 new asymptomatic infections, compared with 24 a day earlier. China does not classify symptomless infections as confirmed cases.

9:36 a.m. Japanese opposition parties submit a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as headwinds grow over his handling of the pandemic and the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

4:00 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delays his plans to lift most remaining COVID-19 restrictions by a month, warning that thousands more people might die if he does nothing because of the rapid spread of the more infectious delta variant. Now the full reopening of pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and other establishments has been pushed back to July 19.

"I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer," Johnson tells a news conference. "As things stand, and on the evidence that I can see right now, I am confident that we will not need more than four weeks and we won't need to go beyond July the 19th," he says.

Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels.   © Reuters

2:30 a.m. COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca offer high protection of more than 90% against hospitalization from the delta coronavirus variant, first identified in India, a new analysis by Public Health England shows. An analysis of more than 14,000 delta cases by England's public health agency found a double dose of the shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech reduces the risk of hospitalization after infection with delta by 96%. Two doses of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca reduces the risk by 92%.

1:00 a.m. Novavax, a Maryland-based biotechnology company, says a clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. and Mexico shows that its two-shot inoculation provided potent protection against the coronavirus.

In the 29,960-person trial, the vaccine demonstrated an overall efficacy of 90.4%, on par with the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and higher than the one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

Despite these results, Novavax says it may not seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration until the end of September. The company is also applying in Britain, the European Union, India and South Korea.

12:06 a.m. Vietnam's domestically developed coronavirus vaccine candidate begins Phase 3 clinical trials, with the country hoping to package doses for market by the end of the year.

Nanocovax started the final trials with 13,000 people participating, said vaccine developer Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. The company is preparing to mass-produce the vaccine, with the capacity to turn out roughly 100 million doses a year at facilities in Ho Chi Minh City.

A police officer patrols in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam's southern commercial hub has extended a set of social restrictions.   © Reuters

Monday, June 14

9:24 p.m. Indonesia expects the latest wave of coronavirus infections to peak in July as the highly transmissible delta variant takes hold in Jakarta and elsewhere.

The delta variant -- first detected in India -- has become "more dominant" in areas like Jakarta and other parts of Java, according to health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.

The country recorded nearly 10,000 new cases on Sunday, the highest number since February. Cases have been on the rise in recent weeks, following the holidays at the end of the Muslim fasting month.

6:00 p.m. South Korea has begun easing restrictions on large concerts and sports events after announcing last week it would loosen a series of coronavirus curbs as the country pushes ahead with its vaccination drive. Up to 4,000 people will be allowed to attend K-Pop concerts and other cultural shows from Monday, up massively from a capacity limit of below 100 people since late last year.

5:00 p.m. Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday will extend social distancing measures for another 15 days. Vietnam's business hub has seen a spike in cases related to several clusters, including at a factory, a residential building, hospitals and a religious mission. The current social distancing order was to expire on Monday. However, the city has decided to maintain the curbs as "sources of some new infection chains have not yet been identified."

4:00 p.m. Thailand's recently launched vaccination campaign has been hit by confusion after at least 20 hospitals in Bangkok postponed inoculation appointments set for this week, citing delays in vaccine deliveries. The hospital announcements were made on their Facebook pages, while Bangkok's vaccine booking app also sent messages saying appointments after Tuesday would be delayed, as officials sought to reassure the public over vaccine supplies.

"There may have been confusion because private hospitals did not check with the Bangkok administration," Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters on Monday, adding that more doses were being delivered to Bangkok.

3:30 p.m. Taiwan reports 185 new infections, slightly up from the previous day's 174.

3:00 p.m. Japan Airlines begins vaccinating employees, a day after All Nippon Airways became the first Japanese company reported to have started offering a workplace inoculation program. JAL, which aims to inoculate about 36,000 group employees, is initially targeting crew on international routes. The government has set the starting date of June 21 for companies and universities to start launching their own jab initiatives.

2:30 p.m. The former head of Myanmar's COVID-19 immunization program has been arrested and faces charges of high treason for colluding with opponents of military authorities, state media reports. Myanmar's health care system and coronavirus prevention measures have collapsed since the army seized power on Feb. 1. On Sunday, reported cases surged to their highest since shortly after the coup.

1:30 p.m. India reports 70,421 new infections over the past 24 hours, the lowest since March 31, data from the health ministry shows. The country's total caseload stands at 29.51 million, while total fatalities are at 374,305. India added 3,921 deaths overnight.

The South Korean national flag and Celltrion's flag are displayed at the company's headquarters in Incheon, South Korea.   © Reuters

12:00 p.m. Japan's Defense Ministry says it will start administering COVID-19 vaccines to civil servants such as officers in the Self-Defense Force and police officers at the state-run vaccination center in Tokyo, as there are vacancies in appointments for people aged 65 or over. There is room for about 1,650 people on Tuesday at the Tokyo venue, which is run by the Self-Defense Forces.

11:00 a.m. South Korean drugmaker Celltrion announces positive results for its experimental antibody COVID-19 treatment that it says is safe and reduces the treatment period by nearly five days in Phase 3 global clinical trials. The treatment slowed severe symptoms in more than 70% of patients, including a high-risk group with underlying conditions. It also cut the recovery period by 4.9 days, the company says. The trials, which involved 1,315 participants, have taken place since January in 13 countries, including South Korea, the U.S., Spain and Romania.

9:30 a.m. Australia's Victoria state, which was a coronavirus hotspot until last week, reported two new locally acquired COVID-19 cases. The new infections follow low single-digit numbers over the weekend and pose little threat to the community as the people were already in isolation, according to health authorities.

1:00 a.m. Group of Seven leaders call for a transparent, expert-led Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study including in China, to be convened by the World Health Organization. U.S. President Joe Biden says China must provide access to investigators trying to determine whether the coronavirus outbreak occurred in nature or resulted from "an experiment gone awry in a lab," at a news conference after the G-7 summit in Cornwall, U.K.

Security personnel keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a visit by the WHO team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus, in Hubei Province, China on Feb. 3.   © Reuters

Sunday, June 13

10:15 p.m. G-7 joint communique says nations will provide 1 billion vaccine doses over the next year and improve early-warning systems to prepare for future pandemics.

6:56 p.m. Indonesia reports on Sunday 9,868 COVID-19 daily infections, the highest since Feb. 22, the COVID-19 task force says. Total infections are 1,911,358.

5:58 p.m. South Korea will exempt some travelers who have received their COVID-19 vaccination overseas from its mandatory two-week quarantine starting July 1, health authorities say on Sunday. As of May 5, the quarantine exemption was only applicable to people fully vaccinated in South Korea.

The new policy will apply only to certain people, such as citizens and foreign residents, as well as those coming to visit family or for the purpose of business, academics or public interest, says Son Young-rae, an official with the country's Central Disaster Management Headquarters.

Exempt travelers will need to fill out an application, and still need to be tested before and after arriving in South Korea. Some travelers from countries with major outbreaks or variants will not be allowed to skip the quarantine, Son adds.

3:05 p.m. Taiwan reports 174 new domestic COVID-19 infections on Sunday, down from the previous day's figure of 250.

12:18 p.m. Japan's All Nippon Airways on Sunday begins its COVID-19 vaccination program for its employees at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. The major airline is believed to be the first among Japanese firms to have started workplace vaccinations for staff since the government unveiled a plan allowing companies and universities to administer COVID-19 shots on site from June 21.

12:17 p.m. Australia's Victoria state expects to announce further easing of COVID-19 restrictions this week, acting Premier James Merlino says on Sunday, as the state reports one new locally acquired infection for a second straight day.

The nation's second-most-populous state has recorded 92 cases in its latest wave of COVID-19 infections, which triggered a two-week lockdown late last month. Victoria emerged from the lockdown on Friday as new cases declined, but some physical distancing rules remain.

10:30 a.m. China reports 34 new COVID-19 cases on June 12, down from 35 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority says on Sunday.

5:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday reiterates his support for Japan's plan to hold a "safe and secure" Tokyo Olympics next month amid the coronavirus pandemic, as he briefly confers with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The discussion was held on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit meeting taking place in southwestern England.

Saturday, June 12

11:28 p.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expresses "serious concern" about rising infections of the delta variant of coronavirus, reinforcing suggestions that he is set to delay lifting England's last remaining lockdown curbs.

Johnson is considering whether the planned lifting of restrictions, which would see an end to limits on social contact, can go ahead on June 21 as set out under a planned roadmap.

The government had hoped that the success of one of the world's fastest rollouts of the vaccines would end the limits on indoor gatherings and the requirement of pubs and restaurants to provide only table service. But the rapid spread of the delta variant, first discovered in India, has thrown those plans into jeopardy.

9:39 p.m. Saudi Arabia restricts the annual hajj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year running in response to the pandemic.

Only people between 18 and 65 who have been vaccinated or immunized against the virus, and are free of chronic diseases, will be able to take part, the ministry that manages the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca said in a statement carried by the state Saudi Press Agency. It also set a maximum of 60,000 participants.

8:48 p.m. Vietnam approves the vaccine jointly made by Pfizer and BioNTech for domestic emergency use, making it the fourth vaccine to be endorsed in the Southeast Asian country that is tackling a new outbreak, the government says. Vietnam has previously approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, Russia's Sputnik V and China's Sinopharm vaccine.

3:04 p.m. Taiwan reports 250 new domestic infections, down from the previous Friday's figure of 286.

10:12 a.m. China reports 35 new cases for Friday, up from 22 a day earlier. Of the new cases, eight were local transmissions, compared with nine the previous day, the National Health Commission says. All of the local cases were in Guangdong Province.

8:28 a.m. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration says Johnson & Johnson must throw away millions of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine that were manufactured at a problem-plagued Baltimore factory. The FDA also cleared about 10 million doses, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters. The New York Times says the batches being discarded amount to around 60 million doses, citing people familiar with the matter.


To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.

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