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Asia Minute: Region Struggles with Delta Variant

Coronavirus Masks Thailand Bangkok Delta Variant
Sakchai Lalit/AP
Locals wait in line overnight for free coronavirus testing at the Wat Phra Si Mahathat temple in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, July 9, 2021. Faced with rapidly rising numbers of new coronavirus infections and growing concern over the proliferation of the highly contagious delta variant, major Asia-Pacific cities implemented new restrictions Friday in the hope of reversing the trend before health care systems are overwhelmed. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

About two hours after the sun sets in Bangkok on Monday, the city will come under a new curfew. It extends to surrounding provinces and will last for at least two weeks from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

There are other restrictions as health officials in Thailand fight the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus—in a country where about 5% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

In Australia, the vaccination rate is approaching 20% and community spread is increasing. Contact tracing has become more complex in Sydney and surrounding areas.

Health officials talked Friday about 2,000 contacts who may have been exposed to the virus because of links with a single Ikea store in New South Wales.

In South Korea, Seoul remains the center of concern and further restrictions go into effect Monday. They include a ban on all private gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m.—bars will be closed, and all public gatherings are banned.

Starting Wednesday, schools will go back to virtual classes only.

In Japan, Tokyo’s state of emergency begins Monday with plans to continue it until Aug. 22. And the opening ceremonies for the Olympics are still set to get underway on July 23.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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