Also over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries in Asia are still struggling with the spread and new outbreaks of the virus. Governments have responded with restriction measures to rising cases, including lockdowns, curbs on non-essential businesses, and banning mass gatherings. These measures have temporarily slowed down the surge, giving people a chance at a semblance of a normal life.
Despite broad efforts to curb the pandemic, the number of daily confirmed Asian Covid cases reached 162,999 cases on March 28, an all-time high in 2021, comprising 34.65% of daily confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide.
Recent increase in Covid-19 cases in Asia
With 12,22 million as of March 31, India reports the highest number of Covid cases in Asia. The country is also faced with a sharp spike in the number of confirmed cases on a daily basis. As of March 31, the daily confirmed Covid cases jumped to 72,330, the highest rate in 2021 as per Our World in Data. Since February 14, the Covid curve peaked upward, and it hasn’t stopped since.
Indonesia posts the second highest number of Covid-cases in Asia with 1,51 million since the beginning of the outbreak, followed by the Philippines with 747,288 confirmed cases (as of March 31). The number of daily confirmed cases in the Philippines reached a new high for 2021 on March 29 with 10,002 confirmed cases. The recently spiking numbers have led to the government imposing a lockdown on Metro Manila, the country’s economic axis, accounting for about half of active Covid-19 cases.
Some experts believe that the new wave is due to the easing of restrictive measures, which has led to more mobility, mass gatherings, and violation of safety norms. Others also attribute the recent spike to newer mutations of the virus, fueling transmissions and infections.
Singapore and Vietnam keeping Covid cases low
While countries like the Philippines and India are struggling with new waves of Covid-19, certain countries have managed to keep the pandemic under control.
Vietnam, for instance, reported only 2.603 confirmed Covid cases until March 31. According to Our World in Data, this success has been attributed to a decisive central government and a proactive containment strategy based on comprehensive testing, tracing, and quarantining. Weekly confirmed cases in Vietnam are below 20 recently.
Also Singapore has one of the lowest numbers of daily confirmed Covid cases in Asia; Fifteen people on average contract Covid-19 daily. It currently has the lowest case fatality rate (0.05%) in the world, with 30 deaths from 60,300 as of March 31.
Officials intend to lift certain restrictions from April 5 and about 70% of workers can end remote working. However, social distancing rules are still firmly in place, and everyone will still be required to wear masks. The government’s so-called Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) is still at orange, despite the low number of cases.
Travel restrictions are still primarily in place for many foreign workers and students. However, Singapore deems some countries such as Australia and Brunei as safe destinations. Moreover, the Trace Together application’s release was helpful, helping folks to track their movements.
Also China managed the Covid-19 outbreak with travel and entry restrictions. Recently, newly reported infections have been hovering around 20 cases a day. As of March 31, a total of 101,732 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak, with 4,841 reported deaths. Most of the new cases are reported to be imported from abroad.
China recently relaxed its entry restrictions a little for foreigners – but only for those who got inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines produced in China.
Singapore: Leading in vaccination
Vaccination programmes in Asia are either yet to begin, or are at a very early stage. As of March 31, 95,81 million people in Asia have received at least one vaccine dose, 55,87 million in India. However, if you put it in relation to the population, only 4% of Indians have already received a dose. Experts are calling for an acceleration of the Covid-19 vaccination rate.
Singapore’s vaccination plan has seen considerable progress. According to Singapore’s Ministry of Health, they administered 39,522 doses/day last week. It is a substantial increase from March 8, where the daily administrations’ average number was 12,352 doses. As of March 23, about 1.1 million doses have been administered in total. The Ministry further indicated that the entire vaccination process could be wrapped up by the end of 2021.
According to the Ministry, if the vaccine rollout is on-time, there will be enough doses for all Singapore citizens and long-term residents by roughly July. The vaccine supplies in Singapore are primarily from Sinovac, Pfizer BioNTech, and Modena.
Japan started its vaccination campaign on February 16, about two months later than most major economies. Japan’s vaccinations plan centered primarily on the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine. Despite its late start, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stated that there would be enough doses for Japan’s entire population before July 23 – the start of the Tokyo Olympics.
As of March 31, Japan has administered more than 1 million doses in total. Japan’s Covid-19 vaccine Minister, Taro Kono, stated that “starting in May, there will be no bottlenecks in supply” and that they expect to receive about 10 million doses every week in May.
Asia better off than the rest of the world?
Angesichts der zunehmenden Einführung von Impfstoffen in ganz Asien besteht ein gewisser Anlass zu vorsichtigem Optimismus. Gleichzeitig bleibt eine gewisse Unsicherheit im Hinblick auf das Auftreten von Covid-19-Varianten und die Frage, ob die aktuellen Impfstoffe gegen diese wirksam sind.
Der asiatisch-pazifische Raum erweist sich jedoch im Durchschnitt als am erfolgreichsten bei der Eindämmung der Pandemie. Im Covid-19 Performance Index des Lowy Institute in Sydney erreicht Asien-Pazifik mit 61,1 den höchsten Wert aller Regionen.
However, Asia-Pacific, on average, proved the most successful at containing the pandemic. In the Covid-19 Performance Index by Sydney’s Lowy Institute the region scores 61,1 – the highest score worldwide.