Thu, 20 Jan 2022

SYDNEY -- A study by Australia's Lowy Institute showed that the Pacific island countries lagged behind for COVID-19 vaccination rate, which will impede their economic recovery and raise the risk of new variants mutations.

The study, released on Sunday, showed that if there is no significant intervention, Papua New Guinea (PNG) will be one of the last countries in the world to achieve mass vaccination. The study has predicted that only 35 percent of PNG adult population is expected to be vaccinated by 2026.

In Solomon Islands, despite the government's awareness campaign, most citizens are still reticent. The adult population is expected to be fully vaccinated by mid-2026. (Pacific island countries-COVID-19-Vaccination)

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HANOI -- The Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Monday resumed more on-site classes for senior high school students in its suburban districts with low COVID-19 risk.

According to the latest direction from Hanoi authorities, all communes of its 16 suburban districts and a township can open classes from Monday for only ninth grade students, the high school seniors. The localities chosen for school resumption are those clear of new COVID-19 infection in the past two weeks and classified at low or medium transmission risk.

Students from other grades will still have to learn online and kindergartens remain closed. (Vietnam-Education-COVID-19)

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MANILA -- The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 984 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 2,826,853.

The DOH also reported that 218 more people died from COVID-19 complications, bringing the country's death toll to 47,288.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said all regions are at minimal to low-risk case classification with health systems capacity at low to moderate risk. (Philippines-COVID-19)

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TOKYO -- Japan's East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) on Monday launched onboard "office cars" on certain Shinkansen bullet trains on lines connecting Tokyo and the country's northern and central parts to meet the growing demand for telework amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without additional charge, the new service allows passengers to talk on the phone and participate in online meetings from their seats -- activities that are discouraged on the rest of the train, local media reported Monday. (Japan-Railway-office cars)

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