Singapore, Vietnam and Taiwan are facing new Covid infection cases in May. Image courtesy of Our World in Data.

According to NIKKEI Asia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Taiwan once was regarded as relative "safe havens" since the start of 2021. However, in May, Singapore, Vietnam, and Taiwan are back to battle mode as the coronavirus is quietly spreading in local communities.   


Image courtesy of《聯合新聞網》.

NIKKEI Asia mentions, in the early days of the pandemic, Singapore struggled with coronavirus clusters in packed dormitories for migrant workers. But since it contained those outbreaks, it has largely controlled the virus with tight border restrictions and domestic safety programs. The country enjoyed a stretch of months, until April, when it was reporting zero or single-digit new locally transmitted cases per day.

A cluster that emerged at Changi Airport, however, has altered the picture. Singapore reported 21 new non-imported cases on May 17. Some were found to be a variant first identified in hard-hit India.

Singapore's economy has shown signs of recovering, growing 0.2% on the year in the first quarter. But Moody's Analytics warned on Monday that the food and retail sectors will be hurt by the tougher restrictions imposed until at least mid-June: Dining in restaurants has been banned and social gatherings are limited to two people.

Image courtesy of《越南媒體》. 

NIKKEI Asia says, Singapore is not alone. Vietnam, after more than a month without detecting new community transmissions, logged about 1,200 cases in the three weeks up to May 24 afternoon. An Indian variant has been confirmed there, too, and the government has ordered lockdowns of affected areas and factory shutdowns.

NIKKEI Asia adds, Taiwanese authorities are also rushing to tackle a cluster of local transmissions. On May 17, 335 new cases were confirmed, breaking the island's record for a fourth day in a row. On May 18, the health minister announced 240 new domestic cases.

Starting May 19, Taiwan will ban arrivals by foreign nationals without resident certificates for one month. School classes will be online-only until May 28.


Image courtesy of《聯合新聞網》.

NIKKEI Asia explains, relatively slow vaccination rates only add to the concern. While about 32% of Singapore's 5.7 million people have received at least one vaccine dose -- one of the highest rates in Asia -- the figure for Vietnam's 96 million was just 1% as of May 15, according to the website Our World in Data. Taiwan has also struggled to secure doses, having reportedly received only 300,000 so far for its population of roughly 23.5 million.

First Response

Popular News