Maximum of Asia has immensely managed to keep omicron at bay even as the variant rages in several other parts of the world, but the region that is home to most of the globe’s population is getting ready for what may be an inevitable rise in cases.
Rigid quarantine rules for arrivals and widespread mask-wearing have sought to slow the spread of the highly Omicron variant in Asia. Countries like Japan, South Korea, and Thailand quickly imposed entry and quarantine restrictions in recent weeks after pausing them in the fall.
But cases are increasing, and experts state the next few months will be terrible. Those fears have been raised by doubts about the effectiveness of the Chinese-made vaccines used in China and much of the developing nations.
“Once the pace picks up, its upsurge would be extremely fast,” stated Dr. Shigeru Omi who is a top medical adviser to Japan’s government.
In India, which has been steadily getting back to normal after a terrible COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, omicron is yet again raising fears, with more than 700 cases reported in the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people.
Australia is already dealing with many COVID-19 surges, with a state leader stating on Wednesday that “omicron is moving too quickly.”
Elsewhere, Thailand has a maximum of 700 cases, South Korea has more than 500, and Japan, over 300 cases. China, which has some of the rigid virus controls in the world, has reported at least 8 cases.
Only 4 cases have been reported in the Philippines, where people went to shopping malls ahead of Christmas and to Mass in the biggest Roman Catholic country in Asia. Some hospitals have even begun dismantling COVID-19 wards in a move experts state could prove to be premature.
Japan anyhow managed to delay the spread of the new Omicron variant for about a month largely thanks to its rule of entry restrictions, compulsory COVID-19 tests for all arrivals, and the isolation of all passengers on a flight if anyone found to have tested positive for omicron.
“We want to believe the omicron cases could be mild, but its fast-paced infections could quickly multiply the number of patients and could still overwhelm hospitals,” Omi stated.
Taiwan, where wearing a face mask is almost universal in major cities, has started to give booster shots of the Moderna vaccine and is requesting people get a third shot before an expected inrush of people returning home for Lunar New Year at the end of January.
Sinovac did not reply to a request for any comment. Chinese officials have stated that their vaccines are still much effective.
“Our inactivated vaccines are still rather reliable and cover a range of antigens. Therefore, they won’t be completely ineffective against omicron,” Zhong Nanshan who is a top government doctor, stated at a public forum.
How China’s zero-COVID-19 policy will rule out at the Olympics is a crucial question. Athletes and visitors shall not be allowed to leave the Olympic zones, and those who will be attending such as officials, journalists, and venue staff will be tested every single day.
Health experts predict that it’s only a matter of time before omicron arrives.
“Omicron has such a high transmission rate that it’s too obvious that it’ll become the dominant variant in South Korea at some point,” stated Jaehun Jung who is a professor at Gachon University College of Medicine in South Korea.