Asia Pacific States Brace for Second Wave of COVID-19

Australia, New Zealand, South Korea battling second waves of COVID . . .

Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, each of which has received plaudits for successfully combating the spread of COVID-19, are now battling a resurgence of the virus. Last week, more than 100 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in the Australian state of Victoria as it moved through a phased exit from lockdown. New Zealand reported nine new cases as of today after being COVID-free for 24 consecutive days, while health officials in South Korea today confirmed that 30 to 50 new cases have been reported daily in the country for the last two months, warning that a second wave is progressing in the Greater Seoul Area.

Why is a second wave occurring?

In Australia, officials said that local transmission between family members and quarantine staff has increased as people are not following rules and guidelines as stringently as they were earlier this year. New Zealand’s resurgence in cases is due to returnees from overseas, and an identified breakdown in quarantine protocol. In May, the number of New Zealanders returning from overseas doubled compared to the previous month. In South Korea, authorities identified an increase in internal travel during a holiday weekend in early May and overseas travel as the primary vectors of its second wave.

Re-tightening restrictions . . .

The Victorian government has extended its state of emergency until July 12. It is also implementing tougher restrictions, testing more rigorously and making testing accessible to anyone, and dispatching contact tracing teams to trace over 1,000 people who have come into contact with new patients. Other Australian states don’t want to open borders to Victoria. To stop the spread of the virus in New Zealand, the country has brought back stricter border security measures, has extended the 14 days of quarantine for all travellers returning home, and has increased testing requirements required for people to leave quarantine. In South Korea, patients are required to stay at one of four COVID-only care facilities, while the country is also restricting visas for visitors from countries with high case numbers.