The Press

Asia sees surge in new cases

- Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Asia · Japan · South Korea · Hong Kong · Singapore

Coun­tries in East Asia have been held up as suc­cess stories in the bat­tle against the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. But in Ja­pan, South Korea and Hong Kong, gov­ern­ments are reim­pos­ing re­stric­tions this week as pub­lic com­pla­cency, pol­icy blun­ders and colder weather fuel a new surge in virus cases.

Ja­pan is scal­ing back a sub­sidy pro­gramme de­signed to en­cour­age do­mes­tic tourism and din­ing out, af­ter it be­came clear that it was help­ing to fuel a third wave that has re­sulted in record new in­fec­tions.

Hong Kong has closed bars and night­clubs, days af­ter of­fi­cials post­poned the launch of a travel bub­ble with Sin­ga­pore.

The num­bers of new in­fec­tions are a frac­tion of those in the West. Yet in­fec­tion rates are still high enough to ring alarm bells, es­pe­cially given the high pro­por­tion of el­derly peo­ple in places like Ja­pan, as win­ter ap­proaches.

Pan­demic fa­tigue is a key in­gre­di­ent, ex­perts say. Af­ter many months of re­stric­tions and with cases seem­ingly un­der con­trol for a while, peo­ple have be­come tired of the rules, bored with stay­ing at home and com­pla­cent about the risks.

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