Governments across the Asia-Pacific region are rushing to impose tougher lock-in measures to combat the spread of the highly infectious variant of the Covid-19 Delta.
The sudden resurgence of coronavirus outbreaks boosts health systems and ignites public anxiety over vaccination programs afflicted by delays and shortage of supply.
Indonesia is one of the hardest hit countries in the region. The 270m nation has faced its deadliest fire since the pandemic began, with its medical system struggling to cope with a record number of cases.
The number of daily deaths has doubled in the past week to more than 1,000 and authorities have warned that the number of new infections could rise to 70,000 after exceeding 34,000 on Wednesday.
Many hospitals have reached capacity and are already treating patients. The government has resorted to importing oxygen tanks from neighboring countries as supplies are depleted.
Joko Widodo, the president, has extended blockade measures in areas including Java, the main island, and Bali. But Jakarta has resisted imposing greater restrictions for fear of hurting Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
Indonesia relies on Chinese Sinovac jabs, but the vaccination rate has been slow and besieged by supply problems.
In Australia, authorities have warned that thousands of people could die if one fire in Sydney linked to the Delta variant has been brought under control. A two-week blockade in the 5m city failed to bring down a group of active homes, prompting a tightening of restrictions on Friday.
“We can’t live with this variant.” No place on Earth has less than its vaccination rates are much, much higher than we have, ”said Gladys Berejiklian, Prime Minister of New South Wales.
“Otherwise, it will subject the population to thousands and thousands of hospitalizations, thousands of deaths,” he added.
Australia and South Korea were among those countries has won international praise for the suppression of the virus last year. While the death toll in these countries remains relatively low compared to the United States and the United Kingdom, the wrong vaccination launches have left the public vulnerable to outbreaks.
On Friday, South Korea set its highest level of virus-related restrictions in Seoul and surrounding areas of the capital, affecting about half of the country’s 52 million people.
“We are facing the biggest crisis with our contingency efforts with new daily homes hitting a record every day,” said Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, announcing the latest blockade.
Measures included bans on meetings of more than two people after 6pm and the ordering of schools.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, head of Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency, warned that the vaccine was yet to come despite signs that the vaccination unit was taking rhythm.
Gen Paul LaCamera, who directs 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, also has reintroduced hard controls on the movements of military personnel in response to recent outbreaks.
“While we got more than 80 percent vaccination rate, we are witnessing small groups of the virus‘ spreading in a chosen location, ’” LaCamera said.
A flood of cases in Japan has forced Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo on Thursday night, meaning the Olympics will be largely held. without spectators.
Reports by Edward White, Song Jung-a and Kang Buseong in Seoul, Mercedes Ruehl in Singapore, Jamie Smyth in Sydney and Robin Harding in Tokyo