Covid Winners of Asia Struggle with Exit Strategies

The countries in the Asia Pacific region like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea have all been praised for their effective pandemic response, while several are also ranked best in the world. In 2020, all were quite able to limit the Covid-19 outbreak through strict lockdown measures and contact tracing, which other countries of the world replicated. Yet, in the second year of the Coronavirus pandemic, all these countries got new challenges. Stronger variants broke through the established defenses and created the worst outbreak in some countries.

At the same time, several other parts of the world are soaring up with vaccinations and are beginning to open up again. Now, these Covid winner countries are facing criticism for not having a solid plan to escape their zero-case approach.

The Initial Successes of the Countries

Al these countries earlier managed to combat Covid successfully. Shutting borders was the most effective measure taken by these places when initially the virus reached their shores. The stringent border policies blocked almost all entries and required long hotel quarantines to ensure the coronavirus would not spread in the general population. Australia, after the second wave in India, even banned its own citizens from returning as the fear of carrying back the virus was there. The meticulous and swift contact tracing also stopped the virus from spreading.

Singapore was a prime example of effectively shutting down chains of transmission. New Zealand became the first country to become Covid-free as the country also entered first into lockdown. By June 2020, the country lifted its social distancing measures. Meanwhile, other places also saw the infection slowing down, which allowed them to ease most of the internal containment measures.

2021 New Outbreaks

When the countries eased their strict containment measures, the stronger variants of the virus along with gradual complacency led to the resurgence in many of these countries since May 2021. The most serious surge of the pandemic happened in Vietnam and Taiwan. In Taiwan, the easing of quarantine rules for pilots of airlines resulted in a rapid cluster. In Vietnam, a rapid new variant surged the cases.

Japan and South Korea hit new heights in the Covid wave. However, the rate of infection in all these places has halved. South Korea has never gone into strict lockdown. Strict tracing and community effort have helped in bringing the curve down. In Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong, smaller outbreaks are recorded due to the immediate reaction from authorities.

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