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Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Asia-Pacific region - statistics & facts

The unprecedented outbreak of the novel coronavirus in December 2019 sent shock waves throughout the world. At the end of January 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency. By November 2020, the pandemic had spread to 220 countries and created economic and social panic like no other before, which was greatly detrimental to many vital markets.
As of January 2022, there have been more than 375 million coronavirus cases worldwide. The Asia-Pacific region, accounting for over half of the total global population, faced uncertainties with a number of its key industries. Although originating in Wuhan, China, the number of COVID-19 cases spread dramatically throughout the whole Asia-Pacific region. Powerful economies such as South Korea and Japan all felt the disruption that the coronavirus outbreak caused. The respiratory lung infection can cause problems with breathing, which could then, in turn, lead to the contraction of pneumonia. In some very severe cases, COVID-19 holds the possibility of death. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, a dry cough, and breathing difficulties.

Early measures and impact

In 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 vaccinations

As 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.

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