The Daily Dose Asia: Coronavirus exposing animosities between countries

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The coronavirus epidemic is doing more than upending lives. It is also exacerbating antimosities between nations that are normally at least civil to each other. One good example of that is the current self-quarantine-request tit-for-tat between Japan and South Korea. As per the Japan Times, “South Korea has retaliated against Japan’s ‘irrational and excessive’ request for Korean visitors to voluntarily self-quarantine upon arrival as measures to contain the novel coronavirus epidemic threatened to exacerbate bilateral tensions.” Expect more tensions as SARS-CoV-2 appears in more countries.

Hospitals continue to play a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections. Singapore joins the list of nations experiencing cases of nosocomial COVID-19 cases, this time at Singapore General Hospital. As per Asia One, “A 77-year-old Singaporean man, who shared a ward with another patient who later tested positive for Covid-19, was reported to have contracted the virus. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday that the man, Case 126, had been in the same ward as Case 109 in Singapore General Hospital (SGH) last Saturday and Sunday.“ As has been seen during the Wuhan outbreak, overwhelmed hospitals quickly become hotspots for new infections.

While Singapore has had its fair share of COVID-19 cases, the outbreak has been manageable for the most part. So far, it has managed to prevent massive spikes of infections seen in South Korea, Iran, and Italy. This is due to years of planning that resulted from the 2004 SARS outbreak. Asian Scientist lists 7 factors that played a role in the country’s efforts.

After weeks of relatively little COVID-19 news coming out of the Philippines, the island nation has reported two community transmitted infections in southern Luzon. As per CNN Philippines, “There are now two cases of local coronavirus transmission in the country, prompting the Department of Health to raise the nationwide alert level to contain the spread of the virus. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a media briefing on Saturday confirmed that the 62-year-old Filipino man from Cainta, Rizal province, had no recent travel history abroad, based on Immigration records. Duque said the government’s contract tracing teams have yet to determine how he contracted the virus.” Earlier in the week, two separate tourists returning home from a stay in the Philippines tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in their home countries, respectively Australia and Japan. This suggests that there is a community-based outbreak that has yet to be detected.

The numbers of new infections in China continues to decrease as the nation eases its workforce back into business. According to the South China Morning Post, “The new coronavirus has now infected more than 100,000 people around the world, but in mainland China the number of new cases fell on Saturday to just 99 – the first time since January 18 that fewer than 100 cases were recorded.” A major question which many observers are monitoring is how the return to work affects the infection trend, with the possibility of a second major outbreak a real possibility.

Finally, one of the more underreported aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak is how overwhelmed healthcare infrastructures deal with non-coronavirus illnesses that normally take up hospitals’ resources. Anecdotal evidence indicates that hospitals are struggling to provide adequate care for those patients. An article in Sixth Tone explores the phenomenon, documenting the challenges of delivering anti-retroviral drugs to HIV+ individuals.

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