As focus pivots elsewhere, coronavirus cases rise across Southeast Asia

Women make masks in Thailand. Photo: Thai Department of Disease Control/Facebook
Women make masks in Thailand. Photo: Thai Department of Disease Control/Facebook

Coronavirus cases rose across most of Southeast Asia and in Hong Kong over the weekend with the official tallies doubling in Malaysia and Vietnam. 

Though the global focus has shifted to new outbreaks roiling Europe, North America and the Middle East, it is still spreading in the region where efforts to stem its advance have proven unsuccessful, and nations that may have masked or not known the extent of infection begin to come clean.

The official tally in Thailand has risen to 50 after health officials reported two more infections over the weekend, both involving 40-year-old Thai men who returned from Italy, where the virus has stricken more than 7,300 and killed nearly 400.

Several people linked to Indonesia’s first cases tested positive for COVID-19, the disease it causes, while Vietnam reported a spike after a wealthy Vietnamese family returned from Europe. Malaysia’s reported infections rose to nearly 100 after a new outbreak cluster emerged that was traced to an ill employee linked with a state wealth fund.

Convicted drug smuggler on Thai cabinet denies role in black market face mask sales

Hong Kong reported its third death yesterday while the Philippines reported its first new cases in weeks. The first Cambodian has also been reported with the infection, more than a month after Cambodia announced its first case involving a Chinese national.

Singapore’s known infections hit 150 Sunday night as cases linked to a dinner event surged from eight to 30 as of this morning.

Other major updates from the weekend:

  • The number of infections in South Korea hit nearly 7,400 Monday. More than half were linked to a religious sect in the country’s fourth-largest city of Daegu.
  • Japanese health officials said the coronavirus had caused meningitis in a patient in his 20s, according to Japan Times, suggesting COVID-19 could lead to other illnesses.
  • A Vietnamese heiress tested positive after reportedly attending fashion week events in Paris and Milan.
  • More than 100,000 COVID-19 cases had been reported globally as of Monday morning. Nearly 4,000 people have died.
  • Iran on Sunday reported 49 new deaths, its largest one-day death toll. An adviser to Iran’s foreign minister was among those who died.

More updates from Coconuts’ newsrooms in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong:

Singapore

  • Cruise ships continue having difficulty finding port. The Italian owners of the Costa Fortuna ship say there is no one sick onboard, and plan to dock the vessel Tuesday at the city-state after being turned away by Thailand and Malaysia, according to Today Online.
  • Singapore reported 33 new infections since Friday night, bringing the total to 150 as of Monday morning.
    • The bulk of the latest cases involved people linked to a private dinner function last month at a recreation center in Jurong. A total of 30 cases have been traced to the event so far.
    • Other new cases were thought to have contracted COVID-19 abroad. They included a Singapore Airlines cabin crewmember, aka case No. 123, who was in South Africa and France before testing positive Thursday.
  • Singapore has suspended activities at seven western community clubs for two weeks that had been visited by some of the patients linked to the SAFRA Jurong cluster.
  • Nine people are now in critical condition, according to the Health Ministry’s Sunday coronavirus update. No deaths due to the virus have been reported.

Vietnam

  • Vietnam reported 14 new cases since Friday, bringing its total to 30.
    • The latest cases involved Vietnam’s wealthy, including two women who are daughters of a steel magnate. They reportedly attended fashion week events in Europe before flying business class to Hanoi via Vietnam Airlines and subsequently testing positive. Several other foreign nationals on the plane also tested positive for COVID-19.

Cambodia

  • Phnom Penh announced Saturday the first infection to involve a Cambodian citizen. The 38-year-old man was in contact with an infected Japanese man visiting the country.

Malaysia

  • Coronavirus cases nearly doubled in Malaysia since Friday night to 99 known infections as of Monday morning.
  • A second cluster centering on case No. 33 has emerged. The 58-year-old Malaysian man attended meetings on Feb. 21 and 24 along with an infected employee of the Khazanah Nasional wealth fund.

 

 

Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong reported the death of a 76-year-old woman who had been admitted to hospital Feb. 28. She was its third fatality.
  • The total number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong stood at 115 as of Monday morning, with the latest cases involving those on a tour to India Jan. 31 to Feb. 24 and Buddhist temple-goers. A total of 19 cases have been linked to the temple so far.

Manila

  • Several schools in Metro Manila canceled classes Monday following the country’s first confirmed local cases after claiming for weeks that there had only been three infections, all involving Chinese nationals.
  • Over the weekend, three Filipinos tested positive for the virus, including a 48-year-old who recently traveled to Japan, a 62-year-old Muslim Filipino man with hypertension and diabetes who regularly visits a prayer hall in Greenhills, San Juan City, and his 59-year-old wife.
  • The 62-year-old man was considered in “very critical condition” as of Saturday.
  • Yesterday, the country’s health department reported four more patients testing positive, bringing total cases to 10. They included a 38-year-old Taiwanese national, a 32-year-old and 52-year-old Filipino, and an 86-year-old American – all men.
  • Meanwhile, the Qatar government has imposed a travel ban – including those with residence or work permits, temporary visas and visas on arrival – on 14 countries including the Philippines.

Indonesia

  • Coronavirus cases rose to six in Indonesia.
    • New patients included a 36-year-old man who worked on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and a 55-year-old man linked to the Japanese national who made contact with Indonesia’s first two patients involving a mother-daughter pair.
    • The unidentified Japanese national reportedly attended a party hosted by the said daughter on Feb. 14, at a restaurant in South Jakarta. Patient No. 3, 4 and 5 were also among the partygoers.

Additional reporting Khyne Palumar, Vicky Wong and Chayanit Ithipongmaeetee

Related:​

Greenhills prayer room disinfected, ordered temporarily closed by Mayor Zamora
Businessman who flew to Europe, tourist who visited India are latest Hong Kong coronavirus cases
World Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong pushed back amid coronavirus outbreak
2 more test positive for coronavirus in Indonesia
Coronavirus: Ubud Food Festival postponed to June

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