The Press

Asia sees surge in new cases


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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