COVID cases are rising across Asia again, with Japan reporting an uptick in cases less than 100 days before the Olympics and Korea on the brink of a 4th wave

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Lina Batarags
·4 min read
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Women wearing face masks take photos in front of blooming cherry trees in Seoul.
Women wearing face masks take photos in front of blooming cherry trees in Seoul. SOPA Images / Contributor / Getty Images


  • On April 14, South Korea and Japan each recorded a daily coronavirus case high not seen since January.

  • On the same day, Thailand recorded its highest-ever number of daily coronavirus cases.

  • Other Southeast Asian countries - namely Singapore - still have coronavirus cases under control.

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Countries across Asia are reporting an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Rising coronavirus cases in South Korea have prompted fears that the county is facing a fourth wave of outbreaks. Thailand, on April 14, recorded 1,335 new cases - a single-day high since the pandemic began. And on April 14, Japan recorded more than 4,000 new cases, prompting senior Japanese officials on April 15 to announce that canceling the Olympics less than 100 days before their planned start date is still "an option."

All three countries are now examining various measures to keep the spread of the coronavirus contained.

Rising case numbers in Japan, Thailand, and Korea

In South Korea, the 731 new COVID-19 cases reported on April 14 were the highest daily count since January 7, the Straits Times reported. The country is currently following social distancing guidelines of varying intensity depending on location. On April 9, the government announced it would maintain for another three weeks of social distancing guidelines that limit group sizes to five people, among other measures.

The 4,000 new cases that Japan recorded on April 14 marked the country's highest single-day count since January 28. Also on April 14, Shigeru Omi, the head of Japan's coronavirus panel, acknowledged that "a fourth wave of coronavirus has started in the country." Some of the country's prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, are currently under a quasi-state of emergency.

And in Thailand, where the 1,355 new cases recorded on April 14 represent the highest daily count the country has seen since the pandemic began, the health ministry warned restrictions may need to be tightened.

Varied vaccination rollouts

More than 825 million doses have been administered worldwide, according to The New York Times' vaccination tracker. Leading the region in percent of population vaccinated is Bhutan, which vaccinated 93% of its eligible adult population in just two weeks. The tiny country has administered more than 476,000 vaccines (63 per 100 people).

On April 12, Japan, which was already vaccinating frontline essential workers, opened up vaccinations to people 65 and older. The country has administered 1.7 million vaccine doses to date (1.4 per 100 people).

South Korea began vaccinations in late February, per Reuters, and is aiming to reach herd immunity by November. It has administered nearly 1.3 million doses (2.5 per 100 people), per The Times.

Thailand has been lagging in vaccinating its population. It has administered just over 579,000 doses, or .8 per 100 people.

To date, Japan has recorded 517,353 coronavirus cases and 9,472 coronavirus deaths, per data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CSSE); South Korea has recorded 112,117 cases and 1,788 deaths; and Thailand has recorded 37,453 cases and 97 deaths.

All three countries trail behind India and Indonesia, which lead the region, in death count. Since the outbreak began, India has recorded 173,123 deaths and Indonesia has recorded 42,906 deaths, JHU data shows.

Japan, Korea, and Thailand are not the only three Asian countries with rising coronavirus cases. Infection rates are also rising in countries including Cambodia, which the World Health Organization said is seeing its worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began, and Malaysia, where the government has also warned the country may be on the brink of a fourth wave.

While the coronavirus case situation intensifies in some Asian countries, it remains stable and relatively under control in others, most notably in Singapore. The city-state closed its borders to short-term visitors and some foreign laborers in March 2020 and has steadily reported fewer than 100 cases per day since mid-August, per JHU data.

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