Wed, 18 May 2022

HONG KONG -- All face-to-face classes of secondary schools in Hong Kong will be suspended no later than Jan. 24 until schools' Chinese New Year holidays, the Education Bureau (EDB) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government announced on Thursday.

The decision was made after various factors were taken into consideration as there have been confirmed cases or preliminary confirmed cases identified in schools, resulting in compulsory testing and quarantine of teachers and students, a spokesperson for the EDB said. (Hong Kong-COVID-19-Schools)

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TOKYO -- Japan reported 46,199 daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, setting a new record for the third day amid the country's "sixth wave" of infections with the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, according to an NHK tally based on data from local governments.

As of Thursday, Japan's cumulative number of COVID-19 infections has topped 2 million since the government confirmed the nation's first COVID-19 case in January 2020.

The capital set a new record of 8,638 daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, eclipsing the previous record high of 7,377 on Wednesday. (Japan-COVID-19)

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ISLAMABAD -- As Pakistan witnessed a sudden rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases over the past days, the country's experts and officials believe that strict implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and robust vaccination campaign will help rein in the fifth wave pandemic driven by the Omicron variant.

Pakistan recorded the second-highest daily case count on Wednesday since the pandemic started in the country in 2020, with 6,808 new infections and positivity rate jumping to 11.55 percent, according to the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Thursday. (Pakistan-COVID-19-SOPs-ROUNDUP)

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SUVA -- The United Nations is on standby with teams and emergency supplies to assist Tonga, and the UN staff who are based in Tonga are working to assist coordination and response efforts in the country, a senior UN official based in the Fijian capital city of Suva said here on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua through e-mail, Jonathan Veitch, acting UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, said that the UN will be discussing with the Tongan government requests they may have for specific assistance. By the end of the week, it is expected that Tonga will issue a request to donors.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is also shipping 44 pallets of wash kits, recreation kits, jerry cans, buckets, among other items, to Tonga this Friday, he said. (Fiji-UN-Assist-INTERVIEW)

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TOKYO -- Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures in western Japan will jointly request the central government place the regions under a COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency as the Omicron varian of the virus continues to spread rapidly across Japan, local media reported Thursday.

Osaka has seen new daily infections hover around the 6,000-mark, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said, quoted by local media, adding, "The ratio of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is likely to reach today or tomorrow the 35-percent threshold for requesting the central government's emergency step." (Japan-COVID 19-Quasi-State of Emergency)

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