Early measures and impactIn an attempt to control and prevent the further spread of the virus, lockdown measures were introduced throughout many countries across the Asia-Pacific region. This saw the closing of borders and banning any unnecessary activities. The economic fallout of the coronavirus was prominent in the Asia-Pacific region, the outbreak stunting economic growth. With many countries in the region possessing a high dependency on Chinese business, the slowdown of the Chinese economy had a great impact on the Asia-Pacific region. With the closing of borders and heavy reliance on Chinese tourism, Asia-Pacific countries saw tourist arrivals decline dramatically. As the tourism industry is vital for several Asia-Pacific countries, the losses in tourism posed a significant threat to many Asian economies. Thailand made steps to address the imbalance of its tourism industry, attempting not to rely so heavily on Chinese tourism. Singapore and Hong Kong are among other regions in Asia-Pacific dependent on Chinese tourism, and thus, have felt blows to their respective economies resulting from the outbreak. However, with daily cases slowing down in China, the lockdown period in Wuhan officially ended in April 2020, with citizens slowly returning to normal life. However, lockdown measures continued throughout the rest of the Asia-Pacific region as cases and deaths continued to rise.
Second waves, virus variants, and vaccinationsAs of January 2022, India experienced the highest number of COVID-19 cases throughout the Asia-Pacific region, with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia following. Despite the extensive lockdown measures and other efforts, 2021 saw a surge of second waves of COVID-19 cases. Especially, highly populated countries with weaker healthcare systems took the hardest hit. COVID-19 cases in India started to rise rapidly in March, and the healthcare system is struggling to take control of the situation. Indonesia's cases started climbing up in late 2020, peaking in January and rising up again in June.
Since November 2020, several different variants of the coronavirus have been detected worldwide, with the latest variant of concern being the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529), which was first reported in South Africa in November 2021. As of January 2022, the highest numbers of Omicron cases in the APAC region have been reported in Australia, Japan, and India. The emergence of these concerning variants as well as the ongoing critical virus situation in many countries has led to the extensive administration of vaccine booster doses and an increasing share of vaccinated people in the Asia-Pacific region.