The second wave of Covid-19 is expected in Asian countries, due to the arrival of coronaviruses from elsewhere.
While the outbreak’s epicenter has shifted to Europe, where there are now more cases being reported daily than at the height of China’s crisis, epidemiologists warn that the Asian giant could face subsequent waves of infections, based on patterns seen in other pandemics.
As countries around the world adopt new security measures to control the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus, many people in Asia are voluntarily and forcibly returning to their home countries, where significant progress has already been made in eradicating the disease. China was the first to report more “imported” than “domestic” cases, but similar news is now coming from South Korea and Singapore.
New coronavirus cases have dropped to single digits in Wuhan, the city in central Chinese Hubei province from which the outbreak began, and have been zero in the rest of the country for six days, a dramatic plunge from the height of an outbreak that sickened more than 80,000 people in China, killed more than 3,000, and caused a historic economic contraction.
For now, the Chinese government is focused on cracking down on “imported cases” as infections in travelers entering China outnumber domestic cases, according to data from the National Health Commission. The country has stringent control measures in place to ensure that “if the coronavirus pops back up, it will be addressed rapidly,” said Rebecca Katz, director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University.
In China, no “local” coronavirus cases were recorded on Thursday, but there were 34 “imported” cases. In Singapore, out of 47 new cases, 33 were registered immigrants, 30 of whom were Singaporean. South Korea recorded 152 new cases on Thursday but has not commented on how many have been “imported.”
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Japan reported only three new cases on Thursday and has even lifted the state of emergency in the hardest-hit Hokkaido region.
The nature of this particular virus also raises the risk of a resurgence. The coronavirus is harder to detect and lingers longer than the one that caused SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003, which infected 8,000 people before fading out. That will make future waves of the new pandemic more difficult to prevent.