COVID cases in Asia top 100 million – Reuters tally

FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: People pass groceries to residents across the barriers of a restricted area amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Shanghai, China March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

March 30, 2022

By Rittik Biswas and Roshan Abraham

(Reuters) – Coronavirus infections in Asia have surpassed 100 million, according to a Reuters tally on Wednesday as the region sees a resurgence in cases dominated by the BA.2 Omicron subvariant.

The region is reporting over 1 million new COVID-19 cases about every two days, according to a Reuters analysis. With more than half of the world’s population, Asia contributes 21% of all reported COVID-19 cases.

The highly contagious but less deadly BA.2 subvariant of Omicron has been driving numbers to higher heights in countries like South Korea, China and Vietnam in recent weeks. BA.2 now represents nearly 86% of all sequenced cases, according to the World Health Organization.

South Korea leads the world in the average number of new cases reported each day, accounting for one in four infections reported each day globally, according to a Reuters analysis.

While the number of cases has leveled off since early March, the country is still reporting an average of over 300 deaths a day, with authorities nationwide ordering crematoria to work longer hours.

China is trying to tame its worst outbreak since the pandemic began. The surge in Shanghai’s COVID cases, fueled by substrain BA.2, has caused the financial hub to go into lockdown. The city went into a two-stage lockdown of its 26 million residents Monday, restricting movement across bridges and highways to stem the spread.

China has reported over 45,000 new cases since the beginning of this year, a number higher than all of 2021. Although China has vaccinated 90% of its population, not enough elderly people have received booster doses, leaving them vulnerable to reinfection.

Though China is sticking to its plan to quell the outbreak, overseas experts remain skeptical about the effectiveness of lockdowns given the highly infectious Omicron variant.

“It’s clear from Australia and other parts of the world that lockdowns against omicrons just aren’t effective – so expect a big wave,” said Adrian Esterman, a biostatistics expert at the University of South Australia.

India alone accounts for 43 million COVID cases, more than the total in the next three hardest-hit Asian countries, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

India has reported fewer than 2,000 cases per day over the past 11 days, down from its peak this year in January of an average of over 300,000 cases per day.

As of March, there were 1 million COVID-related deaths in Asia. There have now been 1,027,586 million COVID-related deaths across the continent.

Vaccines are considered less effective against the BA.2 subvariant compared to its predecessors. Studies have shown that Omicron can reinfect people previously diagnosed with different coronavirus variants.

(Reporting by Rittik Biswas and Roshan Abraham in Bengaluru; Editing by Karishma Singh) COVID cases in Asia top 100 million – Reuters tally

Bobby Allyn

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