Covid-19 Surge Reaches South Korea and Japan After Containing Viruses

Some Asian countries, which have been one of the world’s most successful in curbing Covid-19, are now struggling to curb winter revival, a sign of how elusive sustainable development is until the vaccine is widely distributed.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday after the country reached a nine-month high in 686 cases, forcing officials to deal with hospital bed shortages with transport containers. More than 2,800 new cases were registered in Japan on Wednesday, the highest daily total, according to NHK public service broadcaster.

In about three months, Vietnam reported Community infections for the first time, prompting the authorities to suspend all incoming commercial flights. In Hong Kong, which has made daily infections a single digit, cases are in excess of 100, requiring the reintroduction of restrictions on canteen restaurant services and gym closures. Several regions of Malaysia have been shut down after cases doubled in a month.

“We have overcome the coronavirus crises several times, but now we are in a more serious situation than ever before,” Mr Moon said in a discussion with officials earlier this week. He called for an expanded scan of the coronavirus, encouraging test sites to extend working hours and reopen drive-through sites.

Although the virus appears faint compared to the United States, Europe, and other countries, the recovery in recovery among Asian Covid-19 success stories occurs after life has returned to pre-pandemic levels. But unlike the more isolated outbreaks of previous months, this winter boom is more diffuse, as places once considered shelter — family reunited at home or jobs that opened long ago — are now the origin of the epidemic.

Recent Asian scandals show that well-established countries are also exposed to the epidemic cycle: the loosening following the decline in viral cases will inevitably trigger further restrictions.

As Asian governments have maintained relatively low rates of infection in recent months, people have started congestion in bars and restaurants, and increased mobility has resulted in infections among family members and during private meetings. Health officials say the virus lives longer in cooler weather, which has also kept people indoors for longer, contributing to a sudden increase in infections.

A Covid-19 test site in Hong Kong, where the number of coronavirus cases per day exceeded 100.


Keith Tsuji / Getty Images

The rebirth brought new stress to health systems and preventive efforts that officials hoped were able to withstand the winter attack.

Both Japan and South Korea have mobilized military personnel to assist hospitals and liaison efforts. “If we have more patients, we can’t protect either the coronavirus or other patients,” Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, said Tuesday.

Tokyo and Seoul expected the cases to skyrocket in the winter. But government officials in the two Asian countries have focused more on economic recovery while citizens are tired of regulation, said Kim Dong-hyun, head of the Korea Epidemiological Society and a professor at Hallym University School of Medicine in South Korea.

“This time, even the ability to track contact reaches its limits because infections appear in so many places at once.”

– Kim Dong-hyun, head of the Korean Epidemiological Society

“Many young people are tired of constant warnings and infections have spread all the way to nursing homes. This time, even the ability to contact reaches its limits because infections appear in many places at once. Said Kim.

The South Korean response used strategies that have so far helped the country navigate the epidemic.

Japan, which did not use vigorous intervention or aggressive testing to carralize the virus, took even fewer steps than during previous infection attacks. Despite the new onset of new seizures from Covid-19 in elderly patients at higher risk of serious illness. Officials say it has doubled in the past month for patients who need to support ventilation and oxygenate the extracorporeal membrane, or ECMO, in which a machine does the work of the lungs.

While life has roughly normalized in South Korea, China and Japan, the United States and Europe are facing new seizures in Covid-19 cases. The WSJ explains how East Asian countries were able to keep the virus under control without nationwide closures. Photos by Abdulmonam Eassa and Hector Retamal / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images (originally October 19, 2020)

Japanese officials stressed the need to sustain the economy while adhering to basic rules such as ventilation and wearing masks, but did not create a state of emergency as in April and May. Most businesses remain open. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has not suspended a plan to support domestic travel to boost the economy.

Japanese local governments have asked residents to avoid irrelevant trips and businesses to shorten working hours.

In South Korea, whose aggressive viral response has become a global model, officials this week adopted new restrictions in the Seoul metropolitan area, where the majority of new cases are emerging.


Get a coronavirus leaflet six days a week and a weekly health newsletter if the crisis subsides: Sign up here.

Social distance in the Seoul area is the fourth highest of the five levels, with its gyms and karaoke bars coming back again. Cinemas, restaurants and hairdressers are closed until 9pm, while cafes only offer pick-up or delivery services. Students can only attend school with one-third capacity.

Local health experts said it was difficult to locate the links as younger, mostly asymptomatic patients unconsciously spread the virus, making it difficult for authorities to detect the source. The positivity rate rose to 4% from 1% in South Korea in a month as infections spread in saunas and university campuses.

Health authorities have warned of a “medical collapse” in the Seoul area as three-quarters of hospital beds for Covid patients are occupied. 90% of the savings for critically ill patients are full. Authorities have asked residents to stay home until the end of the year.

Lee Hyun-sook, a 52-year-old Seoul restaurant owner, has only seen one or two customers a day since the government began tightening restrictions that began in November. Even the bars next door were empty as cases sped up, but you can’t even imagine wearing a face mask when you get together with your family members. Social distance is not easy for restaurant owners who have to work, Ms. Lee said.

“In reality, people have to take off their masks to eat and it’s too cold to keep the windows open when we have customers,” Ms. Lee said.

Coronavirus testing center on Wednesday in Miyoshi-machi, Japan. Local governments in the country have asked residents to avoid unavoidable trips and businesses to shorten working hours.


Noriko Hayashi / Bloomberg News

Write to him Dasl Yoon at [email protected] and Miho Inada at [email protected]

Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8