The “zero-Covid” strategy in some regions of Southeast Asia is being abandoned in favor of a road toward coexistence with the virus, despite experts’ cautions, it might be too soon to do so at this point.Covid-19 raced over the area this summer, driven by the highly contagious Delta form. Cases spiked in July and peaked in most nations by August, with cases peaking for most countries by September.
The Governments Are Abandoning Their Zero-Covid Policies.
Now, governments in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam are attempting to revitalize their economies, especially the important tourist sector, by reopening their borders and public areas to the general public. On the other hand, experts are concerned that poor vaccination rates in most of the areas and the widespread need for lower-efficacy vaccines such as China’s Sinovac may result in a disaster.
If vaccination rates are not high enough with high-efficacy vaccinations before limitations are removed, according to Yanzhong Huang, senior researcher for global health at the Council of Foreign Relations think tank in Washington, DC, health care systems throughout Southeast Asia may soon become overloaded. In his opinion, “you’re likely to see this increase in severe cases, and it’s going to overflow the ICU, there’s likely to be a shortfall capacity issue,” he added.
However, for the majority of the general people and many political leaders across the area, there appear to be few alternative choices. In many Southeast Asian nations, vaccines are in limited supply, and it is doubtful that a widespread immunization campaign will be completed in the foreseeable future. Individuals are going hungry in the meanwhile, as individuals lose their employment prospects and are forced to remain in their homes.
Jean Garito, the owner of a driving school on Thailand’s Phuket island, stated small and medium-sized companies are anxious for the reopening of the country’s borders. He went on to say that he was unsure how long the country’s tourist industry would be able to endure. A number of Southeast Asian nations implemented severe restrictions from June to August in an effort to contain the Covid epidemic.
Across Malaysia and Indonesia, there have been countrywide lockdowns, whereas Thailand and Vietnam have placed restrictions in high-risk areas. Millions of citizens were instructed to remain at home when possible and were barred from traveling inside the country; schools were shuttered, public transit was stopped, and public gatherings were forbidden. Although the peak has just recently passed and vaccination coverage is still dismally low in certain areas, several governments are already starting to reopen their doors.
According to Reuters, Vietnam intends to resume the resort island on Phu Quoc to foreign visitors beginning next month, after a period of closure. According to the authorities, the decision was made because of economic pressure, with the tourism minister stating that the outbreak had “seriously harmed” the tourist sector. According to the Media Global Vaccine Tracker, less than 7 percent of the population has been completely vaccinated so far, which is well short of the 70 percent to 90 percent required by experts for herd immunity to be achieved.