Covid surge sees Southeast Asia hitting record highs

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Jul 23 (EFE).- Southeast Asian countries have once again registered record highs in daily Covid-19 infections and deaths in recent hours amid a surge in cases linked to the Delta variant, which shows no signs of slowing despite tightening of social restrictions.

Thailand on Friday registered 14,575 new infections, a record high for the third consecutive day, and 114 new deaths, for a total of 3,811 deaths out of 467,707 cases, most of them since Apr. 1.

Despite the closure of almost all businesses and public spaces, as well as stay-at-home orders and night curfews in high-risk zones, including the epicenter and capital Bangkok, cases have increased by 50 percent in the past week and amid a shortage of hospital beds and testing availability.

Vietnam also reached its highest number of infections since the start of the pandemic, with 6,153 in a single day, two thirds of them in the country’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, in which the authorities are not managing to control the outbreak despite the strict movement restrictions of the past two weeks.

The government announced Friday that the lockdown in force since July 9 in the city will be extended for at least two more weeks, an unprecedented situation in a country that since the beginning of the pandemic has accumulated more than 71,000 infections and 370 deaths.

One of the countries with the most alarming situation is Myanmar, where health authorities, now under military command, registered 6,701 new cases of Covid-19 and 319 deaths on Thursday, the worst death toll since the start of the pandemic, which brings the total to 253,364 infections and 6,133 deaths.

According to a dissident doctor, the official data is just the “tip of the iceberg” and does not reflect the reality of the country, with a shortage of oxygen supply and a limited daily capacity of between 12,000 and 15,000 tests among its 55 million population.

Malaysia recorded its second-worst Covid-19 infection data on Thursday, with 13,034 new cases and 134 deaths, bringing the total to 7,574 deaths and 964,918 infections.

On Wednesday, the country recorded 199 deaths — the highest number it has seen so far.

Neighboring Indonesia has in recent weeks become Asia’s epicenter of the pandemic and this Thursday registered more than 49,500 new infections and 1,449 deaths amid the collapse of hospitals and oxygen shortages.

Since the start of the pandemic, the archipelago has registered more than 3 million cases and 79,000 deaths.

Southeast Asia is battling the health crisis amid low vaccination rates – in Malaysia 15 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, while Indonesia is 6 percent fully vaccinated, Thailand is 5 percent fully vaccinated, Myanmar is 3 percent fully vaccinated, and Vietnam is just 0.3 percent fully vaccinated. EFE


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