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Rapid testing center for COVID-19 outside Hanoi, Vietnam. Rapid testing center for COVID-19 outside Hanoi, Vietnam.  

Covid-19 in Asia: the worst is not over

As the Coronavirus continues to infect people and claim lives across the globe, its dynamics are changing across regions. Countries struggle to contain its spread as well as cope with the economic downturn and other effects of the lockdown.

By Vatican News

Europe, particularly Italy, the epicentre of the pandemic after its first outbreak outside the Chinese city of Wuhan, has been overtaken by other countries, not only in the number of infections but also in the number of deaths, a measure by which the pandemic will be most recalled in history. 

With over 4.8 million cases, the US today heads the list in the total number of infections, followed by Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa and Mexico.  In terms of fatalities, the US once again leads with more than 158,000 death, with Brazil, Mexico, the UK and India following suit. 

Social distancing in Asia

With social distancing as the main method of fighting the spread of the virus, it has been particularly difficult to maintain in Asia, home to some 4.6 billion people, or nearly 60 per cent of the world’s nearly 7.7 billion population. 

India, the second-most populous country after China, surpassed Italy on Friday, recording a total of more than 36,000 deaths since the pandemic.  The South-Asian nation became the nation with the world's fifth-highest tally behind the US, Brazil, the UK and Mexico.  Today, the country has a total of over 1.8 million Covid-19 cases, with more than 38,000 deaths.

India’s woes have been further exacerbated by the monsoon rains that have flooded vast areas, hampering efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday noted that the Philippines has overtaken China in terms of coronavirus cases in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Surges in new cases of the coronavirus infection in Asia have dispelled the complacency that the worst is over.  While India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines and other countries continue to report daily cases, Vietnam, a country proud of its zero deaths, recorded its first two Covid-19 fatalities on Friday.  The country now has 621 cases with 6 deaths. 

In Asia, India is followed by Iran with over 309,000 infections.  Pakistan comes next with more than 280,000 cases.  Seven other Asian countries follow with 6-digit numbers. 

Economic crunch

With losses in business, jobs and livelihood, the pinch of the pandemic is being felt both in developed as well as in developing countries.

The Asian Development Bank noted on Monday that because of the Covid-19, remittances to Asia from overseas worker, between January and May totalled $11.6 billion, down 6.4% on the year. This is hitting hard the remittance-reliant economies of the Pacific and West and Central Asia. The global recession is also threatening the job security of over 91 million migrants from the continent.  

03 August 2020, 14:45