Japan weighs state of quasi-emergency for Tokyo, environs — broadcaster

TOKYO — Japan’s government is discussing whether to impose a quasi-state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and surrounding areas this week to contain a surge in COVID-19 infections, broadcaster FNN said on Monday. The highly infectious Omicron variant is driving a resurgence in coronavirus cases, which are hovering near…

Chinese cities on high COVID-19 alert as Lunar New Year travel season starts

BEIJING — Several Chinese cities went on high COVID-19 alert as the Lunar New Year holiday travel season started on Monday, requiring travelers to report their trips days before their arrival, as the Omicron variant reached more areas including Beijing. Authorities have warned the highly contagious Omicron adds to the…

Isko Moreno launches drive-thru vaccination at Bagong Ospital ng Maynila

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso on Monday launched the latest booster vaccination drive-thru at the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila, this time for drivers of public utility vehicles, including jeepney, taxi, tricycle, pedicab and even delivery vans. “Good news sa mga transport group of public utility vehicles, starting…

Horses jump bonfires as Spain’s purification ceremony returns after pandemic break

SAN BARTOLOME DE PINARES, Spain — About a hundred horses jumped through bonfires in a purification ceremony on Sunday during the Spanish festival of “Las Luminarias,” which was held for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The traditional nighttime celebration takes place in San Bartolome de…

House approves bill to protect human rights defenders in PH

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives finally approved Monday a bill that aims to institute mechanisms to protect human rights defenders (HRDs) in the country. With 200 affirmative votes, zero negative, and no abstention, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 10576 or the “Human Rights Defenders Protection Act.”…

Impact assessment, aid efforts underway as world responds to Tonga tsunami

WELLINGTON – Pacific nations and aid agencies began coordinating relief efforts in Tonga on Monday after a tsunami triggered by a massive volcanic eruption rocked the tiny island nation, causing significant damage. An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, triggering a tsunami on the shores of Tonga and cutting…

Marcos camp ‘extends hand of unity’ after COC cancellation bid is thrown out

MANILA, Philippines — The camp of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said it is extending its “hand of unity even to the fiercest of adversary” as it called for clean and fair elections after the petition to cancel his certificate of candidacy (COC) for president was denied by the…

Decision on Marcos DQ case delayed as COVID-19 hits Comelec staff

MANILA, Philippines — The release of the decision on Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s disqualification cases will be delayed after some of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) staff were tested positive for COVID-19. Comelec Director 3 Elaiza Sabile-David said Monday the staff members are under the office of one of the…

NCR’s daily COVID-19 growth rate further dips to -1% —Octa Research

MANILA, Philippines — COVID-19 growth rates in Metro Manila continued to decline on a daily basis, signaling that fewer coronavirus cases were recorded throughout the region, a fellow of independent analytics group Octa Research said on Monday. The National Capital Region (NCR) recently logged 15,959 new COVID-19 infections. ADVERTISEMENT “This…