The world is watching India’s coronavirus crisis but Asia’s developing nations are all at risk. From Laos, Vietnam and Thailand in Southeast Asia to Bhutan and Nepal bordering India, countries have been reporting significant surges.
The reported spikes in these handfuls of nations have been steep enough to raise the alert against potential dangers of an uncontrolled spread. The increase is mainly because of more contagious virus variants, though complacency and lack of resources to contain the spread have also been cited as reasons.
In Laos last week, the health minister sought medical equipment, supplies and treatment, as cases jumped more than 200-fold in a month.
In Nepal hospitals have been quickly filling up and running out of oxygen supplies. With infections surging, will Nepal be the next Covid-19 hotspot?
In Vietnam, authorities on Tuesday closed schools in Hanoi as Vietnam battles its first wave of Covid-19 cases via community transmission in more than a month.
In Thailand health facilities are under pressure, as 98% of new cases are from a more infectious strain of the pathogen, while some island nations in the Pacific Ocean are facing their first Covid waves.
Although nowhere close to India’s population or flare-up in scope, the reported spikes in these countries have been far steeper, signaling the potential dangers of an uncontrolled spread. The resurgence – and first-time outbreaks in some places that largely avoided the scourge last year – heightens the urgency of delivering vaccine supplies to poorer, less influential countries and averting a protracted pandemic.
Also on top of the list are Bhutan, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Cambodia and Fiji, as they reported the epidemic erupting at a high triple-digit pace
All countries are at risk as disease appears to be becoming endemic and will likely remain a risk to all countries for the foreseeable future.
The situation is very serious as new variants require a new vaccine and a booster for those already vaccinated. The economic hardship of poorer countries makes the battle even tougher.
The new cases emerged shortly before a three-day public holiday in Vietnam when many families travel across the country, raising the risk of a wider outbreak.
In Sri Lanka, authorities have isolated areas, banned weddings and meetings and closed cinemas and pubs to cap a record spike following last month’s local New Year festivities. The government says the situation is under control
The Covax program to distribute vaccines around the world had planned to ship 1.9 million doses in the first half of this year. However, India’s surge in cases has resulted in global shortages.
The situations in many countries prove that vaccines are far from a panacea. Some vaccines, which had been considered highly effective, caused severe side effects, including even death, leading many countries to stop their use.