Southeast Asia strengthens Covid measures amid worsening outbreak

By Eric San Juan

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Jul 11 ??(EFE).- Several Southeast Asian countries are tightening restrictions following an outbreak of Covid-19 not seen since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The jump in Covid-19 infections is attributed to concerns over the effectiveness of the vaccines against the highly contagious Delta variant combined with slow vaccination campaigns, as Malaysia and Cambodia are the only nations in the region where more than 10% of the population has been fully inoculated.

The worst-hit is Indonesia. Last week, it registered an average of 33,000 new infections a day, overwhelming the country’s health care system with an alarming shortage of oxygen.

Of Indonesia’s 65,000 Covid-19-related deaths registered since the start of the virus last year, over 8,000 have taken place in the past two weeks. The government is seeking to purchase or receive donations of oxygen and breathing machines from countries like Australia and Singapore.

A partial lockdown has been in place since July 3, with restrictive measures and a temporary closure of schools, religious venues, parks, museums, sports stadiums, shopping centers, bars and restaurants.

In neighboring Malaysia, authorities have restricted freedom of movement since June 15. However, a total of 9,353 cases were recorded on July 10.

The latest coronavirus wave and it’s disastrous effects on the economy have caused a political earthquake in the country after the biggest political party withdrew support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin over his management of the health and economic crisis.

Thailand is also experiencing its worst health crisis so far in the pandemic and has been strengthening measures in recent weeks, banning meetings of more than five people, non-essential travel and implementing a curfew in Bangkok and four southern provinces.

The new restrictions come into effect Monday until July 25. Thailand registered 9,326 new cases and 91 deaths on Saturday, the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in a single day.

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