The division of Asia with the West is clear in the Omicron panic
The division between the countries of the East and the West of the world has become clearer due to the spread of the highly contagious type of coronavirus Omicron. While the eastern countries are taking precautionary measures to prevent the resurgence of corona infection, the West is trying to maintain a normal life by taking the virus as ‘inevitable’. Khabar Al Jazeera.
The notion that “Omicron is not so serious” is thought to be the main reason behind the divisive situation between the governments. Although the new Corona is spreading faster than its predecessors, there is growing support for the notion that it is relatively less lethal and has lower hospital admissions.
However, following the first identification of Omicron in November, several countries tightened border restrictions. In this case, the tendency of Asian countries to give tax exemption is much less.
Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease specialist at Kobe University in Japan, told Al Jazeera that Omicron is difficult to control. Although it is easy to spread, it is not a big threat to most people. Even then, if the infection becomes too much, the restrictions may increase.
Hong Kong, like mainland China, suspended all flights to eight countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, two days ago in compliance with the Zero Cove policy. Their borders have been doubled, making the world’s largest commercial hub now an isolated area.
China’s mainland border has been closed since the beginning of the epidemic. Although restrictions have been relaxed since then, the city of Xi’an has recently been given a severe lockdown due to an increase in coronary heart disease. There are allegations of food shortages and disruption of medical services.
South Korea, Thailand and Singapore have made quarantine mandatory for virtually all foreign travelers. Japan has banned the entry of non-resident foreigners. South Korean authorities have banned restaurants from being open after 9pm until at least January 18. Three Japanese territories have called on the Tokyo government to declare a state of emergency.
According to Jayant Menon, a non-resident senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusuf Ishaq Institute in Singapore, “overreacting” to the virus at this stage of the epidemic can no longer be justified. Yet the response we are seeing from governments is not at all fair in terms of cost. This is leading to huge mistakes.
Explaining the issue, he said that in developing countries, the cost of continuous sanctions has to be paid through loss of livelihood and income. This easily outweighs the direct effects of the comparatively less harmful type (Omicron) infection. In that case, the only effective explanation for continuing restrictions may be to try to maintain a limited healthcare system, which can be used in case of emergency. But this system is economically, socially and morally impoverished.
Western countries are in a much different position than Asia in terms of omicron transmission. Although record-breaking infections have been reported in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, they have assumed that this type of corona is uncontrollable and does not recognize the socio-economic damage.
Australia has been experiencing one of the harshest lockdowns in the world since the beginning of the epidemic. But last Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made it clear that there was no time for lockdown. Health officials there have recently said that everyone will be infected with Omicron as people accept it. However, in some areas, such as New South Wales, infection control has been tightened.
In the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson said last Wednesday that he hoped the country would overcome this wave of Omicron infections without any further restrictions.
Wei Ying Young, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, said he believes countries with high vaccination rates could begin to relax previous restrictions. “I think every country needs to inform and prepare its people to relax sanctions at any level,” he said. Failure to do so could lead to misconceptions and mistrust of the health authorities, which will thwart corona prevention programs. In that case, careful and consistent system can benefit everyone.
Thira Varatnarat, an epidemiologist at Chulalankorn University in Bangkok, said she did not think Asian countries, especially the poorest, were overreacting. Because they have limited access to health care and immunizations. According to this expert, if the epidemic is poorly controlled, if the infection occurs suddenly at a very high rate, then they will face a big disaster.