Southeast Asia COVID-19: Cambodia, Laos, Philippines on high alert

Health authorities have warned against mass gatherings and ordered state agencies to tighten screening and contact-tracing efforts.

Video Transcript

- The Philippines is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia. The government has extended restrictions on movement and gatherings in the capital Manila and four nearby provinces for another two weeks. Those hardest hit are the poor. Many have turned to community run food banks to feed their families.

JULIET REYES: This community pantry is very important because this is a big help to us. I'm lucky it's here and I'm very thankful ever since help started coming from here.

- Coronavirus is making a resurgence elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Cambodia had one of the world's lowest number of infections in the first year of the pandemic. But it's now locked down its capital Phnom Penh in a nearby town and the coastal town Sihanoukville.

Neighboring Vietnam reported its first community transmission in more than a month on Thursday. The new cases come ahead of a four day holiday weekend. Health authorities have warned against mass gatherings, and ordered state agencies to tighten screening and contact tracing efforts. Thailand recently added more measures, including a ban on dining and restaurants in Bangkok. And making it compulsory to wear masks in public.

Mass vaccination campaigns in many of these countries have been slow. Thailand and the Philippines have so far vaccinated only around 1 and 1/2% of their population.

TEDRUS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS: The COVID crisis has exposed the urgent need for more resilient health systems that can ensure uninterrupted availability, affordability, and equitable access to medicines and medical technologies.

- Earlier this year, it seemed that many Southeast Asian countries had successfully contained covid-19. But the latest developments show just how difficult and unpredictable that battle can be. Florence Louie, Al-jazeera.