Thursday, July 1, 2021

More lockdowns in Asia-Pacific region

Concern over the Delta variant triggers lockdowns in Asian and Pacific countries | New York Times - Livia Albeck-Ripka, Saif Hasnat, Yu Young Jin, Mujib Mashal & Aina J. Khan:

June 29, 2021 - "Countries across the Asia-Pacific region are scrambling to slow the spread of the more infectious Delta variant, reimposing restrictions and stay-at-home orders....

"In Australia, outbreaks of the variant have forced four major cities — Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Darwin — into strict lockdowns. On Monday, the Malaysian government said nationwide stay-at-home orders would be extended indefinitely. And Hong Kong officials banned flights from Britain.... In Bangladesh, soldiers are preparing to patrol the streets to enforce stay-at-home orders....

"The lockdowns and restrictions have deflated hopes across the region, where many countries avoided the worst of the pandemic’s initial spread last year. Now, weary residents are frustrated by what some describe as their countries’ pandemic regression, as other parts of the world edge toward normalcy.

"Outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city, a restaurant owner, Marcus Low, bemoaned the fourth lockdown of the pandemic.... For his and other small businesses struggling to survive, this lockdown 'might be the last straw,' he said. Others blamed slow vaccination drives for a return to restrictions." 
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Covid-19: Indonesia announces lockdown in Java and Bali as cases surge | BBC News:

July 1, 2021 - "Indonesia has announced a lockdown on its main island Java, as well as the tourism destination of Bali. The announcement by President Joko Widodo comes as the country battles multiple outbreaks and an alarming spike in Covid cases. Indonesia recently recorded two million Covid cases, attributed to increased holiday travel and the Delta variant.

"The lockdown will last two weeks.... Under the new rules, all staff working for non-essential businesses will have to work from home, and distance learning will be implemented across schools. Malls, places of worship and public leisure facilities like parks will also be shut, with dining-in banned. Businesses ... in the health, security and energy industries have been deemed critical and will be allowed to run at 100% capacity, which means all employees can go to work. Others like financial services, which have been deemed essential, can run at 50% capacity....

"Last month, authorities banned domestic travel across the sprawling archipelago at the end of Ramadan, in an attempt to curb what is known as 'mudik' - the practice of migrant workers travelling back to their hometowns to celebrate Eid with their families. But many flouted the rules.... There have also been rising concerns that the spike in cases is due to the more transmissible Delta variant, which was first detected in late May in the Kudus region of Java.

"Local authorities said this month that more than 350 health workers who were already vaccinated had caught Covid. The Indonesian Medical Association has said so far 949 health workers have died from Covid-19. Data checks by BBC Indonesian found that of these deaths, at least 20 doctors and 10 nurses had been fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine, CoronaVac."
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