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Asia Minute: COVID rules easing in region, case numbers vary

coronavirus test china
Mark Schiefelbein/AP
A man has his throat swabbed for a COVID-19 test at a coronavirus testing site in Beijing, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Remember the COVID rules? Most restrictions have been eased in Hawaiʻi and the rest of the United States for some time. But governments in some parts of Asia are moving more slowly.

Hong Kong is easing a few more COVID rules next week. Wedding guests can remove their masks for photographs. Limits on business hours for bars and restaurants will be dropped.

It was just last month that Hong Kong ended its mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers coming into the city.

It’s a contrast to mainland China, where restrictions remain among the toughest in the world.

This week in the Philippines, the government announced an end to indoor mask mandates. Department of Health figures show new COVID cases are on the rise in the Philippines, while booster shots have leveled off — with about 25% of those eligible having received a first booster.

Public health officials in the region say new variants are a concern, but not a crisis.

In Singapore, more than 90% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated — and 80% have had a booster shot.

This week, Singapore’s government started vaccinating children from 6 months to 4 years old — and offering boosters to children from 5 to 11.

But a new study out this week shows that a third of Singapore parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children.

The World Health Organization says global case numbers are down, but they’re rising in what it terms “Western Asian nations” including Vietnam, Brunei, and Singapore.

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