Delta variant: Which Asian countries are seeing rising cases?

7 月 20, 2021World News

The Delta variant is contributing to a rapid rise in Covid cases in parts of Asia causing a severe strain on the health infrastructure in some countries.

Vaccinations rates have been been low in many Asian countries, leading to fears that the virus will continue to spread.

What has happened to case numbers?

Of particular concern is the prevalence of the Delta variant, first identified in India and now present in countries across the region.

It has recently been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the “most transmissible of the variants identified so far”.

media captionThe BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan meets people forced to say goodbye through crematorium gates

Nepal was particularly badly hit, with a dramatic surge in infections overwhelming the local health infrastructure.

Afghanistan’s cases were at an all-time high in June and the country’s health minister, Wajid Majrooh, said that 60% of cases in the capital, Kabul, were due to the Delta variant.

The WHO has also recently reported rising case numbers in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand.

Shape of the pandemic in parts of Asia

We’ve looked in more detail at what’s been happening in these countries.


Indonesia imposed a lockdown in parts of the country and is likely to extend it after a sharp rise in cases.

Case numbers and deaths have been rising since early June and the government has attributed this to the Delta variant.

The Delta variant was detected in 94% of the tests sequenced in Indonesia in the past two weeks, according to the monitoring site, Our World In Data (OWID),

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent has said Indonesia is near a catastrophe with rising concerns over the availability of hospital beds and oxygen supply.

The pace of vaccinations has risen in the country, but so far less than 6% have been fully vaccinated.

The President, Joko Widodo, has set a target of conducting a million vaccinations a day and doubling that by August.

In Indonesia, more than 85% of vaccines are Chinese-made and there have been reports of some doctors and health workers dying – despite being fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine.

Indonesia will now administer a Moderna booster shot to the health workers vaccinated with Sinovac.

The Chinese-developed vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm are both listed by the WHO for emergency use.

Roads of Jakarta remain deserted even before the lockdown is implementedIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionRoads in Jakarta are nearly deserted before a lockdown is implemented


Bangladesh, which has a long border with India, has experienced an upward trend in cases since mid-May.

The Delta variant was detected in 92% of the tests sequenced in the country up to 28 June, according to OWID.

Amid rising cases, the country has lifted curbs and lockdown ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid ul Adha this week.

The government says it will re-impose a stricter lockdown after the festivities.

Although it was earlier than many other countries in starting vaccinations, the rollout in Bangladesh has generally been slow.

The government has deployed the army for strict enforcement of the lockdown.IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionThe Bangladesh army was used to help enforce a lockdown

In April, Bangladesh was forced to suspend vaccinations because exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India were halted.

The rollout has now resumed with supplies of China’s Sinopharm and the Pfizer vaccine provided through the global Covax scheme.

Less than 3% of the population of Bangladesh had been fully vaccinated by 13 July.


The recent rise in cases and deaths in Thailand has been attributed in part to the Delta variant by the country’s department of medical sciences.

The department’s directed-general, Dr Supakit Sirilak, told the media that the Delta variant was now present in 71 of the 77 provinces in the country.

62.6% of the total 3,300 cases sequenced were the Delta variant according to official figures.

Thailand government has now announced a lockdown in the capital Bangkok and other high risk regions.

But Thailand had only fully vaccinated around 5% of its population by the end of June.

The country recently opened up the country to tourists but is now re-introducing some restrictions.

The Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, recently told the media that there were risks but “we have to accept the risk so Thai people can make a living.”

Mongolia has one of the highest vaccination rates in AsiaIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionMongolia has one of the highest vaccination rates in Asia

Other Asian countries

Pakistan is experiencing a rise in cases following a significant fall in May and June, with 92% of positive tests sequenced in the city of Karachi showing the presence of the Delta variant.

Just 2% of the population of Pakistan has been fully vaccinated.

Cases in Mongolia have been falling since early July, following a severe wave of the virus, when it experienced one of the highest rates of infections and deaths per capita in Asia.

It now has a relatively high level of vaccination with more than 50% of the population fully dosed – most with the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine.

The high vaccination rate comes after a promise by the government of a “Covid-free summer”.

Some reports have suggested a link between rising case numbers in countries which have relied heavily on Chinese vaccines.

But an official in Mongolia said in June that the rise in cases was due to the country coming out of lockdown, not because Chinese vaccines were ineffective.

Source: here


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