207 new COVID-19 cases in a day might sound like good news to most governments, but in the case of Taiwan, the number triggered the tightest restrictions of the pandemic so far. Movie theaters and other entertainment venues were ordered shut, while gatherings have been restricted to a maximum of five people indoors and ten people outdoors.
Taiwan recorded 185 news cases Saturday. Previously, it had never recorded more than 35 a day throughout the entire pandemic. This rewarded citizens a relatively normal 2020 save for strict immigration rules, which themselves made the virtually virus-free life on the island possible.
Taiwan’s fate is shared by several regional neighbors, which until recently had escaped coronavirus outbreaks but suddenly saw case numbers increase to unusually high levels. Vietnam saw almost 300 new infections Saturday after not having recorded more than 50 a day throughout 2020 and only exceeding that number three times between January and April 2021. Thailand, another country regarded as a COVID-19 model student, has been battling returning outbreaks since the start of the new year. In a smaller wave between December and February, the country counted upwards of 1,000 cases a day despite having recorded virtually none between May and November 2020. The current wave of infections is even more ferocious and saw the country set a new record of almost 4,900 cases a day Thursday. The situation is similar in neighboring Cambodia and Laos, even though here, case numbers have started to fall again.