Singapore struggles with rising cases amid new strategy . . .
In June, the Singaporean government announced it would move towards a “living with COVID-19” strategy, moving away from strict lockdowns, border closures, and work-from-home orders. With the gradual reopening, however, soaring cases delayed plans to do away with restrictions, and the government reimposed some restrictions on lockdown-weary Singaporeans. After months of relatively low numbers of daily new cases, more than 1,000 new cases were reported over the weekend, marking the highest number since April last year. On Saturday, health officials announced the expansion of home recovery for fully vaccinated COVID patients aged 12 to 69 without severe symptoms to lessen the burden on the struggling health-care system.
Others in the region follow suit . . .
The highly infectious Delta variant swept through the region this summer, prompting lockdowns that crippled economies in many locations. After months of lockdown, parts of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia are also leaving behind their zero COVID policies and attempting instead to live with the virus, treating it as endemic. Now, governments looking to revive their vital tourism industries aim to reopen borders and public spaces. But experts worry that the use of less effective vaccines, including China’s Sinovac, coupled with persistently low vaccination rates across much of Southeast Asia, could send cases skyrocketing again.
Experts say widespread vaccination is key . . .
At the U.N. General Assembly this week, US President Joe Biden announced plans to double the country’s contribution of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots to one billion doses towards COVAX and other programs. Biden has laid out a goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the global population within the next year. The Japanese government also announced it will double its vaccine contribution to include a total of 60 million doses to be distributed through COVAX and other channels. These commitments come amidst growing calls from leaders and health experts warning that the slow pace of global vaccinations and the inequity of access to shots between residents of wealthier and poorer nations is hampering the global recovery. To end the pandemic, they argue that the world needs a global vaccination plan that does away with glaring socioeconomic disparities in supply and distribution.