Following Russia becoming the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for a coronavirus vaccine, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has offered to personally participate in trials.
Meanwhile the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan — which has so far remained relatively untouched by the virus — has imposed its first lockdown.
This story will be regularly updated throughout Wednesday.
Wednesday’s key moments:
Duterte offers to take Russian coronavirus vaccine
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded Russia’s efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and is willing to personally participate in trials, as he welcomed a supply offer from Moscow that he expects will be free of charge.
Russia on Tuesday became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for mass domestic inoculation even as the final stage of clinical trials continue.
However, the World Health Organization has urged caution and researchers have expressed concern that not enough time had been taken to properly asses the efficacy and safety of the product in large numbers of people.
Russia has offered to supply or co-manufacture the vaccine in the Philippines, which said it was ready to work with Moscow on trials, supply and production.
The Philippines has among Asia’s highest case numbers, which rose by 2,987 to 139,538 on Tuesday.
“I will tell President [Vladimir] Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity,” Mr Duterte said late on Monday (local time).
To allay public fears, Mr Duterte offered to be a guinea pig and said: “I can be the first they can experiment on.”
Bhutan imposes lockdown after returning resident tests positive
The remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has imposed its first coronavirus lockdown after an infected person came into close contact with people in the capital of Thimphu.
“Everyone is asked to stay home to protect themselves and their families from the disease, should there be undetected, rampant transmission,” a Government statement said.
Schools, offices and commercial establishments have all been closed.
The infected patient — a 27-year-old Bhutanese woman — had been in quarantine after returning from Kuwait.
She was discharged after testing negative but days later tested positive. During that time she had travelled to different areas and visited relatives.
“The unprecedented lockdown is enforced to identify and isolate all positive cases, immediately breaking the chain of transmission,” the Government said in a statement.
Bhutan, with a population of about 754,000, has recorded 113 infections so far, the lowest in Asia, and no fatalities.
The country, which is heavily reliant on high-end tourists, banned tourism in March after an American visitor tested positive for the virus, and ordered a three week mandatory quarantine for everyone returning from abroad.
Delay routine dental check-ups in areas of community transmission, WHO urges
Dental patients and staff need to be protected from any potential infection by aerosol-generating procedures, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, as dentists return to work in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic is easing.
There is currently no data on the spread of coronavirus from dentistry, it said, calling for more research into common procedures that produce tiny floating particles that may cause infection if inhaled.
These include three-way air/water spray, ultrasonic cleaning equipment that removes deposits from the tooth surface, and polishing, the WHO said in new guidance.
“WHO guidance recommends in case of community transmission to give priority to urgent or emergency oral cases, to avoid or minimise procedures that may generate aerosol, prioritise a set of clinical interventions that are performed using an instrument and of course to delay routine non-essential oral health care,” Benoit Varenne, a WHO dental officer, told a news briefing.
Dr Varenne added: “The likelihood of COVID-19 being transmitted through aerosol, micro-particles or airborne particles … today I think is unknown, it’s open to question at least. This means that more research is needed.”
The Australian Dental Association has already developed a staged system of restrictions which dictates what procedures are allowed in each state depending on the coronavirus risk of community transmission.