As Asian countries learn to live with the coronavirus – with the notable exception of China – and gain momentum in their vaccination campaigns, many are cautiously reopening their borders and welcoming travelers.
Although the Asia-Pacific region initially fell behind in vaccinations and many countries remained attached to some of the world’s toughest restrictions for much of the year, the region’s vaccination rates have caught up. their delay.
Yet while some Asian countries vaccinated the majority of their populations months ago, they are only now reopening to international travel – just before the winter break.
Singapore, after more than 20 months of strict border restrictions, began easing regulations on international travel last month. The city-state has fully vaccinated nearly 92% of its population, the highest rate in the world, according to Our World in Data.
Singapore announced on Monday that it would allow the return of travelers from five other countries, including India and Indonesia, starting at the end of the month.
“In Southeast Asia, the pandemic situation is stabilizing quickly,” Singapore’s health minister Ong Ye King said at a press conference this month. “It also gives us the opportunity to start opening our borders with countries in the region. “
Singapore and South Korea also opened a reciprocal travel bubble on Monday. South Korea has relaxed travel regulations, first for Koreans and now for foreigners.
Although the number of new cases recently hit a record high in South Korea, she plans to continue her ‘living with Covid’ strategy. The country has fully immunized 78 percent of its population, according to the government.
In Cambodia, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to self-quarantine as of this week. While the government says the country has fully immunized 88% of its population, based on a population of 16 million, a New York Times database puts the rate at 80%, based on ‘a population of nearly 16.5 million. Cambodia has also started giving boosters and immunizing young children.
Even some Asian countries with lower vaccination rates have reopened their borders or are planning to do so soon.
In the Philippines, where only 31 percent of people have been fully immunized, the Department of Tourism said friday that it had approved the opening to fully immunized travelers from certain countries “in principle”. A final decision will be made by the government’s Covid task force.
Understanding the chaos in Myanmar
In Myanmar, the military government has announced plans to reopen land crossings with China and Thailand next month. He also said he would allow international flights early next year if coronavirus cases continued to decline and enough people were vaccinated.
Myanmar’s health system has been in disarray since the February 1 military coup, and the country lags behind the rest of Southeast Asia in immunization. The country of 54 million people faced an increase in the number of cases and deaths in July, but the daily figures have since declined.
Vietnam, which has fully vaccinated 39% of its population, has seen a 46% increase in daily cases over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. From this month, international visitors are allowed to visit tourist destinations, including the resort island of Phu Quoc and Quang Nam province.
The government hopes to open the rest of the country to international travelers next year.
“Along with other economic sectors, the tourism industry should take steps to restart safely,” Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said last month at a tourism meeting with other officials. government.
India reopened its borders to most international travelers this week after 20 months of restricted travel. The country has only fully vaccinated 29% of its population and plans to open travel bubbles with 99 countries.
Indonesia and Thailand have allowed visitors from some countries since October. Indonesia has fully vaccinated 33 percent of its population, while Thailand has vaccinated 54 percent.
Rick Paddock contributed reporting.