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World Coronavirus is roaring back in parts of Asia, capitalizing on pandemic fatigue

14:25  24 november  2020
14:25  24 november  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Asian countries with the highest numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases are India, Russia (a The family were finally discharged and flew back to their home country on the next day as of the 80 The COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has already become the main event of the leap year, relegating other dramatic news of recent months to the background. In other words, the pandemic is perceived not so much as a global bug that needs to be fixed at all costs, but as a new feature of world politics that can

TOKYO —Compared with the United States and Europe, countries in East Asia have been held up as success stories in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Commuters at Shinagawa station in Tokyo on Tuesday. © Kimimasa Mayama/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock Commuters at Shinagawa station in Tokyo on Tuesday.

But in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, governments are reimposing restrictions this week as public complacency, policy blunders and colder weather fuel a new surge in virus cases.

Japan is scaling back a contentious subsidy program designed to encourage domestic tourism and dining out, after it became clear the enticements were helping to fuel a third wave that has resulted in record new infections.

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The coronavirus outbreak has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). A pandemic describes an infectious disease where we see significant and ongoing person-to-person spread in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

The coronavirus is just starting to have an impact on the globe's economy and politics. The World Health Organization has made it official: Coronavirus is the first "global health emergency" of The impact on the global economy will be far more significant than during the SARS pandemic of 2003

In Seoul, officials ordered bars and nightclubs to close and limited dine-in service at cafes and restaurants this week, after an earlier easing of restrictions allowed the virus to roar back.

Hong Kong also closed bars and nightclubs, days after officials postponed the launch of a travel bubble with Singapore — a highly anticipated experiment that was set to herald a reopening of quarantine-free travel in Asia — after the virus found gaps in the territory’s defenses to stage a comeback.

[As infections ebb, Japan hopes it has cracked the covid code on coexisting with the virus]

The numbers of new infections here are a fraction of those in West, with Japan recently reporting more than 2,000 new cases a day, South Korea more than 300 a day, and Hong Kong recording 73 new confirmed cases on Monday — compared with about 180,000 a day in the United States.

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This pandemic is a creature of capitalist globalisation, not any single country. ‘Chinese culture’ is just a convenient scapegoat, says historian Andrew Liu. Let’s take the claim that the novel coronavirus was caused by a culturally peculiar fondness for eating pangolins.

Coronavirus pandemic . image copyrightGetty Images. But in the early part of 2020, Japan saw fewer deaths than average. This is despite the fact that in April, Tokyo saw about 1 It is a concept dating back to Japan's imperial era and denotes a sense of racial superiority and cultural chauvinism.

Yet the infection rates are still high enough to ring alarm bells, especially given the high proportion of elderly people in places like Japan, as winter approaches and doors and windows close against the chill.

a group of people walking on a city street: People visit the restaurant area of Omoide Yokocho alleyway in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district on Nov. 19. © Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images People visit the restaurant area of Omoide Yokocho alleyway in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district on Nov. 19.

Pandemic fatigue is a key ingredient, experts say. After many months of restrictions and with cases seemingly under control for a while, people have become tired of the rules, bored with staying at home and complacent about the risks.

On Tokyo’s streets this past week, everybody has been wearing a mask. But bars and restaurants have been packed with people who have cast their face coverings aside.

“Our control measures rely on voluntary behavior change,” said Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor at Tohoku University School of Medicine who is a member of the government’s advisory team. “And it’s getting more difficult to persuade people to change behavior. Even though the number of cases is much, much higher than in March or April, people are quite relaxed.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the tourism industry due to the resulting travel restrictions as well as slump in demand among travelers.

Forbes Asia . If part of the allure was the experience of actually eating at places like Le Bernardin in Manhattan or The French Laundry in the Napa Valley, that charm cannot be recreated at home. People stocking up at Total Wine liquor store before the nation shuts down due to the coronavirus

Kang Do-tae, South Korea’s vice health minister, warned Tuesday of a “triple bind” of asymptomatic patients, transmission among young people, and colder weather in which the virus thrives because of increased indoor activity.

“The unforeseen development of the third wave forewarns an even harsher and harder winter,” Kang told a meeting.

As the flu season approaches and hospital beds fill up, that complacency is increasingly dangerous, experts say.

But there have also been policy blunders, U-turns and misfires that have given the virus the opportunity to spread.

[Cellphone apps designed to track covid struggle amid privacy concerns]

To rescue its economy from a record slump, the Japanese government launched the Go to Travel and the Go to Eat subsidy programs in July and October, respectively, offering to repay consumers up to half the costs of flights, hotels, meals and other expenses. The aid brought welcome relief to industries floored by the pandemic, but also helped the virus to penetrate new corners of this island nation.

On Monday, the governors of the northern prefecture of Hokkaido and the western prefecture of Osaka announced they were withdrawing their regional capital cities from the subsidy program, a decision the central government reluctantly endorsed the next day.

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Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike also raised her concerns Tuesday.

“It is clear that the movement of people is having an impact on this increase in cases,” she told a news conference. “And we are seeing these situations where in times of eating out, the virus does spread. This is then brought home into the household, where perhaps there are elderly members of the family who have lower immunity.”

a group of people sitting at a table: People eat at a restaurant in Tokyo on Nov. 13. © Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images People eat at a restaurant in Tokyo on Nov. 13.

Opposition politicians slammed the government for acting too late. Yoshimasa Suenobu, a veteran journalist and a professor media studies at Tokai University, said it was as though the government was driving a car “without thinking about how to brake.”

“A car won’t drive well unless both the accelerator and the brake perform equally well,” he said on Nippon Broadcasting System.

In South Korea, which won praise for effectively tamping down the first major epidemic outside China, officials have continued to fight small but persistent outbreaks.

Believing it had a second wave under control, the government eased social distancing rules last month. Over the past two weeks, however, more than 60 infection clusters emerged across the country, including at schools, military bases and churches.

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[With virus flip-flops, Hong Kongers ponder whether their leaders are out to lunch]

“Infections from the first and second waves left lingering transmission risks across the South Korean society, which caught fire as social distancing rules were lifted without proper preparations,” said Kim Yoon, a professor at Seoul National University’s College of Medicine, warning the outbreaks could overwhelm South Korea’s contact-tracing regime.

“Unlike previous outbreaks which stemmed from few big clusters, the third wave consists of dozens of small clusters that are harder for contact tracers to track,” he added.

In Hong Kong, a cluster of infections originating from dance clubs has shattered a weeks-long streak of low to zero local cases. That cluster has emerged as one of the biggest Hong Kong has seen, with more than 130 confirmed cases.

The city’s government has moved belatedly to close loopholes that had given the virus a path back, including lax hotel quarantine arrangements for returning residents, who were forced to isolate for 14 days but could still have visitors.

But the financial hub is also battling a similar wave of fatigue and complacency that Japan has experienced.

“Seeing videos and photos of the dancing clusters that have gone viral, we can see people totally not respecting the regulations during a pandemic,” Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday, pointing out that people were engaged in close-contact activities without masks on.

“It seems like this new wave of infection will be quite severe.”

Akiko Kashwagi in Tokyo, Min Joo Kim in Seoul, and Theodora Yu and Shibani Mahtani in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

As infections ebb, Japan hopes it has cracked the covid code on coexisting with the virus Cellphone apps designed to track covid spread struggle worldwide amid privacy concerns With virus flip-flops, Hong Kongers ponder whether their leaders are out to lunch

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