New Delta Variant Has Prompted Renewed COVID Lockdowns in Australia, Japan, Among Others

Numerous countries in the Asia-Pacific region are commencing lockdowns due to rising surges in COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of COVID that is dominating rising numbers all over the world.

Authorities in countries including South Korea, Australia, and Thailand have seen increasingly rising cases and deaths from the more infectious variant, and lockdown measures have been imposed in the last week in an attempt to slow the spread.

Australia

According to Reuters, nearly half of Australia's population of 25 million is currently under lockdown.

The state of New South Wales detected the Delta variant last month, and on Friday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, declared new restrictions in Sydney. The Australian state of Victoria went into lockdown Thursday.

Berejiklian announced last Friday that this is now the "scariest period" of the pandemic yet for Sydney, as she announced new restrictions in the city after reporting at least 44 new cases.

Reuters reported that of the more than 900 people in New South Wales who have been infected during the latest outbreak, 73 have been moved to a hospital, with at least 19 people in intensive care. Two deaths have been reported so far, but they are the first recorded in the country this year.

South Korea

Cases are spiking in South Korea, where last week the recorded number of infections reached 1,316 last week.

Data from The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) showed that nearly 81 percent of the locally transmitted cases came from Seoul, the capital of South Korea, and the surrounding areas.

"We're extremely concerned the virus would spread further," said Interior and Safety Minister Jeon Hae-cheol in an intra-agency COVID-19 meeting, "as there are clear signs of increased outside activity among the people, and a rising number of cases of the strongly transmissible Delta variant."

Seoul is under a level 4 lockdown, the strictest restrictions the capital has seen in the pandemic so far in order to curb the spread. People are advised to stay home as much as possible, schools are recommended to switch to remote learning, social gatherings are restricted to two people after 6 p.m, and most public spaces are limited or closed down.

Japan

With the Olympics just a week away, Japan has set restrictions and placed itself under a state of emergency in place in order to anticipate the big event. Spectators have already been banned at most venues at the upcoming Olympics.

Thailand

Last Friday, the country of Thailand announced they have added a nightly curfew onto the country's restrictions, which went into effect on Monday. Health officials announced 9,276 new COVID-19 cases Friday and 72 new deaths.

Record levels of COVID cases in Thailand have surged amid the spreading Delta variant and low vaccination pushes, and health authorities announced that the death toll rose to 2,534 Friday. More than 90 percent of the country's 317,506 confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have occurred since the beginning of April of this year.

Bangkok and the surrounding area have imposed stricter restrictions, including closing spas, limiting the hours of public transit, and restricting the opening times of markets and convenience stores, reported the Associated Press.

Indonesia

According to reports, no country in the Asia-Pacific region has been hit harder by COVID recently than Indonesia. In the last two weeks alone, the seven-day rolling averages of daily cases and deaths both more than doubled.

A partial lockdown was imposed on July 3, but the current wave of cases, mostly on the islands of Java, Bali, and a few cities on the island of Sumatra, will soon start to spread across the vast archipelago.

The imposed emergency measures will stand until July 20 to contain an exponential spike in coronavirus cases that has strained the medical system, but the trend in rising cases may extend that date.

Indonesia has recorded about 2.2 million cases and 58,995 deaths overall.

Vietnam

Vietnam was able to limit its total coronavirus cases to 2,800 during the first year of the pandemic, but in the last two months, the country has recorded some 22,000 new cases as they had begun to ease up on their restrictions.

On Friday, Ho Chi Minh City, the country's largest metropolis and economic hub was put under lockdown for two weeks, reported the Associated Press.

The city's nine million residents are permitted to leave home to buy food and medicine and are advised to stay home unless a matter is urgent.

AP reported that about four percent of the Vietnamese population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Malaysia

9,180 daily cases were reported in the country of Malaysia on Friday as the country was put under a strict national lockdown, where only one person per household is allowed out to purchase groceries and necessities.

AP reported that this is the second national lockdown in the last year and government officials said it will stay in place until daily infections fall below 4,000, and at least 10 percent of the population is vaccinated.

Bangladesh

A government study in Bangladesh encompassing the period from May to early June showed that the Delta variant accounted for 68 percent of the cases detected in the capital, Dhaka.

The country has been under national lockdown, but as of Thursday, the lockdown has been lifted despite increasing cases ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival, an important religious celebration, which will be celebrated from July 20 to 22 this year.

Still, the country remains in fear of severe spread as celebrations and less than 3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated as of the end of June.

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Countries all over the Asia-Pacific region are under new lockdowns as the Delta variant continues to spread. Pictured, an Army health official prepares the jab of the Sinopharm vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus at a camp held in Colombo on July 15, 2021. ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images