Top Asian News 4:52 a.m. GMT
BEIJING (AP) — The northern Chinese city of Tianjin ordered a second round of COVID-19 testing on all 14 million residents Wednesday following the discovery of 97 cases of the omicron variant during initial screenings that began Sunday. Residents are to remain where they are until the results of all the nucleic acid tests are received, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Xinhua said authorities have carried out almost 12 million tests so far, with 7.8 million samples returned. Infections were first reported on Saturday in the city that is only about an hour from Beijing, which is to host the Winter Olympics from Feb.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a successful flight test of a hypersonic missile he claimed would remarkably increase the country’s nuclear “war deterrent.” The report by North Korean state media on Wednesday came a day after the militaries of the United States, South Korea and Japan said they detected North Korea firing a suspected ballistic missile into its eastern sea. The Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday’s launch involved a hypersonic glide vehicle, which after its release from the rocket booster demonstrated “glide jump flight” and “corkscrew maneuvering” before hitting a sea target 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic knew he had tested positive for COVID-19 when he attended a newspaper interview and photo shoot at his tennis center in Serbia last month, saying Wednesday he made an “error of judgement” and should have immediately gone into isolation. Djokovic moved to clarify “ongoing misinformation” about his movements while he was infectious last month and about errors on the travel document he used to enter Australia, where his visa was revoked and then reinstated in a COVID-19 vaccination saga that has overshadowed the days leading up to the Australian Open. A statement was posted on Djokovic’s social media accounts while the men’s tennis No.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Opinions about Novak Djokovic’s visa status ahead of the Australian Open are strong — on and off the record, apparently. Video of a conversation between a pair of TV anchors on Seven Network in Australia blasting Djokovic — and apparently unaware they were being recorded — went viral after it was posted online Wednesday. Mike Amor and Rebecca Maddern are seen questioning apparent mistakes that appeared on Djokovic’s visa application and making personal attacks on the 20-time Grand Slam champion. They also are heard saying the government and border authorities made a mess of the process. Djokovic was stopped at the airport when he arrived in Melbourne last week and his visa was canceled by the Australia Border Force, which determined he didn’t meet the criteria for a medical exemption to to Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination policies.
MOSCOW (AP) — The president of Kazakhstan announced Tuesday that a Russia-led security alliance will start pulling out its troops from the Central Asian nation in two days after completing its mission. The mostly Russian troops were deployed to Kazakhstan last week by the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of six former Soviet states, at the president’s request amid the worst public unrest the former Soviet nation has faced since gaining independence 30 years ago. Protests over soaring fuel prices erupted in the oil and gas-rich Central Asian nation of 19 million on Jan. 2 and quickly spread across the country, with political slogans reflecting wider discontent over the country’s authoritarian government.
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, made the reporting of rapid antigen test results mandatory Wednesday as it experienced its deadliest day of the pandemic with 21 deaths. State Premier Dominic Perrottet said residents who failed to register a positive rapid antigen test would face a fine of up to 1,000 Australian dollars (US$721) starting next week. Perrottet said the registration process was simple and would help health officials provide more support to people with underlying health conditions. The 21 deaths reported in New South Wales on Wednesday topped the previous record of 18 set on Monday.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia kicked off a COVID-19 booster campaign for the general public on Wednesday, prioritizing third shots for the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. The government hopes to provide 21 million booster shots in January to people who received their second jabs at least six months ago. Some 117 million people in Indonesia have already received two doses of the vaccine. “This effort is important to increase the immunity of society, considering the COVID-19 virus keeps mutating,” President Joko Widodo said Tuesday. Indonesia has reported more than 4.2 million cases and more than 144,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
UNIITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States and five allies urged North Korea on Monday to abandon its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programs and called on the U.N. Security Council to oppose Pyongyang’s “ongoing, destabilizing and unlawful actions,” including missile launches. The six countries issued a statement ahead of the council’s closed consultations on the North’s Jan. 5 launch of what Pyongyang characterized as a hypersonic missile and South Korea said was a normal ballistic missile that could be intercepted. The meeting concluded before South Korea reported Monday night that North Korea had fired an unidentified projectile into the sea.
When Australian immigration officials rejected tennis star Novak Djokovic’s medical exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement and canceled his Australian visa, they set off a storm of ramifications — bureaucratic, political and legal. The world’s top male tennis player spent four days in a dowdy Melbourne immigration detention hotel among asylum seekers and undocumented migrants before Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly upheld his appeal and ordered him released and his visa reinstated. Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke now must make the politically charged decision of whether to use his authority to overturn the judge’s ruling. ___ WHERE NOW? First, a better class of accommodation.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations on Tuesday launched its biggest ever appeal -- for over $5 billion to help 22 million Afghans whose country is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse as well as 5.7 million Afghan refugees in five neighboring countries. The U.N. said the appeal will be followed by a pledging conference in mid-March. But a number of nations announced new funding, including an additional $308 million from the United States and $500,000 from Israel, and there were indications that more funds will be coming from other mainly Western nations. U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, who called the campaign “the largest ever appeal,” said statements during the two-hour hybrid launch event were “encouraging” because there is a high degree of consensus on the increasingly desperate needs of the Afghan people.