The New Face of Caution

Sideglance

There is no easy way of putting it out but experts in the medical field have already expressed their gravest warning that things are about to get worse because of the persistent spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant in all parts of the globe.The latest reports coming out in the media point to the adoption by countries of various measures not only to prevent the spread of the variant but to mitigate and manage its effect on their people.

Here in SouthEast AsiaThe Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has been closely monitoring and reporting government
responses in connection with the delta variant and based on their latest update as of August 26, 2021 this is what we learn with respect to some of their responses: Brunei – “On August 18, the government announced a collaboration with the Beijing Geonomics Institute to acquire
an additional virology laboratory, known as the Brunei Covid-19 AirLab, to increase Covid-19 testing capacity.

On August 21 it extended itsnational lockdown for another two weeks. On August 24, Brunei opened its first drivethrough swab testing facility in Jerudong in line with efforts to increase Covid-19 testing capacity.”

Cambodia – “announced on August 19 that all businesses and institutions can order rapid test kits from the government. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training also issued a new requirement for factories to purchase large numbers of test kits.

On August 25, Cambodia announced it would begin administering a booster vaccine dose to the general population in August 2021 and continue through mid-2022, depending on supply.” Indonesia – “ announced on August 23 that public activity restrictions (PPKM) would be extended in Java and Bali until August 30, but that some areas could relax the toughest restrictions from Tier 4 down to Tier 3.

Places of worship and restaurants will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, while shopping centers may stay open until 8 p.m. at up to 50 percent capacity. On August 25 announced that Indonesia will offer booster shots of vaccines by January 2022 after all of its target population has been vaccinated.”

Laos – “ announced that the ongoing lockdown would be extended by 15 days until September 2. On August 22 the Centre of Information and
Education for Health said that the Lao government is in talks with China’s Stemirna Therapeutics about the possibility of producing a vaccine in Laos.”

Malaysia – “ on August 21 loosened social distancing measures for outdoor sports and in-person dining for fully vaccinated people. On August 23, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the government purchased an additional 6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses expected to arrive in September.

On August 24, the Malaysian government launched a new mobile app called Vaccine Certificate Verifier that can validate the authenticity of Covid-19 vaccination certificates.”

Myanmar – “On August 20, Myanmar ’s State Administration Council extended the public holiday period to the end of August to discourage people from leaving their homes. The Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce launched its vaccination program in Myanmar on August 24 with a goal of administering 700,000 doses of Sinopharm.”

Philippines – “on August 19 President Rodrigo Duterte approved the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the Manila capital region from August 21 to 31 on August 19 announced that the Philippines would allot $900 million in funding for vaccine booster shots in its 2022 budget on August 23 approved the emergency use of Russia’s new Sputnik Light single-dose Covid-19 vaccine.

On August 24 The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority announced that the rollout of standardized vaccination cards in the capital area will begin on September 1.”

Singapore – “on August 19 announced it will designate countries into four categories with differentiated border measures for each based on their perceived risk of infections. on August 19 announced that fully vaccinated residents can travel to and from Germany and Brunei without having to serve a stay-at-home period starting September 8, on August 19 announced that it would begin a pilot program for mildly ill Covid-19 patients to recover from home starting August 30.

On August 23 Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation issued an advisory calling for all employers to implement a regime for vaccination or mandate regular testing for employees. Employers may also now ask staff who are eligible but have not yet received their vaccine to pay for costs associated with regular testing.

Thailand – “On August 23 The National Communicable Disease Committee approved a shift in the country’s strategy to “learning to live with Covid-19” with preliminary plans being made to relax some restrictions and reopen its borders to vaccinated visitors.

On August 23 The Pharmacy Council of Thailand authorized some local pharmacies to distribute Covid-19 antigen test kits free of charge to at-risk individuals.

On August 25 announced it would ramp up screening for Covid-19 at wet markets across the country. The measures include using antigen test kits to conduct mass testing of traders and workers weekly, reducing the number of entrances and exits at each market, disinfecting stalls and shared points of contact daily, and improving ventilation.

Vietnam –” On August 23 deployed soldiers to enforce a strict Covid lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, which was first implemented on August 20. The lockdown prohibits residents from leaving their homes. The United States announced on August 25 that it would donate an additional 1 million Pfizer vaccine doses to Vietnam to be sent within 24 hours. The Chinese military delivered 200,000 Sinopharm vaccine
doses to Vietnam on August 23.

On August 20, Vietnam received its ninth batch of AstraZeneca vaccines, totaling more than 1 million doses.

This is the new face of caution manifested in the measures being undertaken by countries and their governments as the whole world grapples with the dilemma on how to finally end the COVID-19 pandemic.