SINGAPORE (Reuters) – India, South Korea and Thailand faced an increase in coronavirus infections on Thursday, shattering cautious hopes that Asia could be triggered by the biggest outbreak due to threatening safety concerns. To delay vaccination
India reported 126,789 new cases for the third day of this week, rising to more than 100,000, with officials surprised at blaming crowds and reluctance to wear masks as shops and offices reopened.
Other infectious strains may play a role in India’s rise, some epidemiologists say, with hundreds of cases first detected strains detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
Shocking figures prompted New Zealand to temporarily ban those arriving from India, despite for the first time blocking New Zealand citizens from returning home for about two weeks.
“We have temporarily suspended entry to New Zealand for travelers from India,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference in Auckland.
New Zealand, which has almost completely eliminated the virus within its borders, had 23 new cases at the border on Thursday 17 from India.
Two other countries that were able to keep the coronavirus under control during the first year of the pandemic are also battling a new wave, albeit smaller than India’s.
South Korea reported 700 new cases on Thursday, the highest daily figure since early January, and its prime minister warned that new social isolation regulations were needed.
Thailand, which is planning a cautious launch of the tourism industry, reported a rise to 405 new infections on Thursday, with a total of 30,310 cases, with 95 deaths.
In addition to concerns for Thailand, up to 24 cases of the virus have been infected for the first time in the UK, the first reported domestic transmission.
The director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said Wednesday that there is an increasing number of cases in many parts of the world. But South America is the most worrisome region in the world.
The increase in patients in Asia comes as growing concern about the safety of one of the most prominent vaccines against the virus.
The European Medicines Agency on Wednesday said it had found a rare case of blood clots among AstraZeneca Plc Plc’s COVID-19 recipients, although it said the vaccine’s advantages still outweigh the risks.
Both South Korea and the Philippines have suspended the use of the vaccine for people under the age of 60 because they may have been linked to blood clots, while Australia and Taiwan said they would continue to use the vaccine.
Concerns about vaccines could delay vaccinations in Asia, some of which are affected by supply problems. Campaigns in most parts of Asia are lagging behind campaigns in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Australia’s vaccination program is nearly 26 million, 80% exceeded.
Authorities have pledged to administer at least four million first doses of the drug by the end of March. But only 670,000 can be delivered. The government blamed the supply problem from Europe.
As India’s cases increase, vaccine centers in parts of the country, including the hardest-hit state of Maharashtra, have run out of supplies.
China, where the novel coronavirus outbreak spread in late 2019, is driving a vaccination campaign, carrying around 3.68 million doses of the vaccine on Wednesday with a total of 149.07 million doses.
Japan’s vaccinations are lagging behind in most major economies, with only one vaccine approved and about 1 million getting their first dose since February, although it struggles with new cases.
The infection in Tokyo soared 545 on Thursday, raising concerns about the Olympic and Paralympic games delayed from last year and is now due to start at the end of July.
The government sought to calm social media, saying it did not want to prioritize vaccines for Olympians, rejecting media reports it was considering doing so.
Japan does not confirm that arriving athletes will be vaccinated. But there will be tests often while they are in Japan. There will be no foreign audience and no decisions on domestic audiences have been made.
Reported by Reuters officials; Written by Robert Birsel; Edited by Simon Cameron-Moore