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Asia Minute: Delta Variant Has Uneven Regional Sweep

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

As COVID-19 cases continue at a high level in Hawaiʻi, it’s a similar story in much of the Asia Pacific—but not everywhere.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus has led to record case spikes in parts of Northeast Asia.

South Korea has been setting new marks lately — pushing past 2,200 new daily cases — leading the Health Minister to say “we are entering…a new crisis” and urging residents to “stay home and take a rest instead of traveling” during traditional summer holidays.

New cases in Japan are approaching 16,000 a day, setting and breaking records in the past week.

About a quarter of those cases are in Tokyo where the 7-day average is up nearly 15% in a week.

Government officials say plans to lift a state of emergency at the end of the month are likely to be delayed.

In Thailand, the numbers are dramatically higher — more than 21,000 new cases a day and more than 200 deaths on Wednesday—both near records.

Reuters reports thousands of demonstrators protested in Bangkok Tuesday against the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Cases are also surging in the Philippines, averaging 5,700 cases a week last month — now hitting 8,000 to 10,000 a day.

Some glimmers of hope in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta — where cases have plunged from nearly 15,000 a day a month ago to fewer than 800 a day now.

That follows restrictions on movement—although cases are rising in other parts of the country.

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