The Philippines Thursday said it was pushing to position the country as a "safe, fun and competitive destination" despite the continuing world health crisis.

Officials said the DOT would rebuild "tourism confidence" and grow demand in the local and foreign market in the next two years to help the industry recover from the negative effects of Covid-19.

"This will be attained by developing and marketing a portfolio of products that harness the natural and cultural endowments to benefit the present and future tourism generation," ABS-CBN News quoted the DOT as saying.

In Singapore, officials are also evaluating the timing of the next phase of reopening the economy after an increase in local Covid-19 cases.

"We're now at Stage 1 of our reopening. Stage 2 is scheduled Monday. Unfortunately, we now have new cases breaking," Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said, according to Channel News Asia.

Health officials detected 19 new community cases Wednesday. It was the highest local daily total since June 3, Bloomberg said.

In Thailand, the Health Department's chief of the Office of Reproductive Health advised that sex is a health risk during the pandemic and people should avoid it.

The health official also warned people should avoid sex with strangers in these risky and uncertain times. 

Covid-19, like sexually transmitted diseases, can be spread from person to person through intimate contact, even with someone with no clear signs of the virus, Thaiger News said. 

In Vietnam, health authorities confirmed 91 new local cases of the virus Wednesday, bringing the figure in the new wave since late April to 8,088. Since April 30.

Vietnam has tested more than 4.8 million people. Its national tally of infections is now at 11,304 with 4,543 recoveries. More than 1.64 million of Vietnam's 96 million population have been immunized.

In China, a Covid-19 outbreak south of the country could cause an increase in transport costs that could spark inflation and cause shortages of goods across the world.

According to Drewry Shipping, transporting a 40-foot steel container by sea from Shanghai to Rotterdam now costs a record $10,522, which is three times higher than it was last year, The Guardian said.

Over in Malaysia, foreign minister Hishammuddin Hussein said China had agreed to donate 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines produced by its drug manufacturer Sinovac BioTech to the Southeast Asian country.

Malaysia topped the 200,000 level of doses given for the first time, with 215,876 doses administered to Malaysians Wednesday, officials said.

Some 3.83 million people have died from Covid-19, with global cases hitting the 177 million mark Thursday, according to sources.