No longer a regional leader, Thailand is slipping in ASEAN Covid rankings

After months as one of the most successful countries in the region at fighting the pandemic, Thailand is now the 5th nation in ASEAN with the highest number of cases after Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Myanmar.

The Ministry of Health reported a record of 9,635 cases on Monday morning, bringing the cases for Thailand to 101,447 in total with 589 deaths.

While people continue to stay home, adhering strictly to social distancing measures and waiting for the vaccines, the government is struggling to maintain the outbreak in prisons and across provinces. 

Meanwhile, here is what other ASEAN nations are doing:

Brunei

With only 232 cases, Brunei has been successful in containing the spread of the virus and has already begun to open its borders for international travel with its ASEAN counterparts. The small nation is also a part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX initiative, and expects to procure enough vaccines to cover 70 per cent of its population by the end of 2021.

Cambodia

With 22,184 cases and 150 deaths, Cambodia has done relatively well during the past year despite its weak health infrastructure. The country expects to import vaccines from China and Russia, and Australia has also vowed to offer financial support to aid its vaccine coverage.

Indonesia

With the most coronavirus cases in South-East Asia, and a population of more than 270.6 million, Indonesia has spent the most of the pandemic trying to control the outbreak. With 1,739,750 cases and 48,093 deaths nationwide, the country has started giving the first of more than 9 million doses of vaccines to frontline medical workers in the past month. The government is, however, facing difficulty in containing the outbreak due to its large population. Australia has also stated that they will support Indonesia financially in its vaccination efforts.

Laos

Having avoided any major outbreak for more than a year, Laos was the last country in ASEAN to report its first Covid-19 infection. But a recent surge in early April has resulted in 1,592 cases and 2 deaths, the first on on May 9, 2021, more than a year after the pandemic was first declared. With its weak health infrastructure and lack of resources, the new surge could spell trouble for the landlocked country.

Malaysia

With 470,110 cases, 1,902 deaths and a gross domestic product of USD 364.7 billion, Malaysia plans to provide vaccines free of charge for its nationals, while foreigners will have to pay for treatment, according to its Ministry of Health. The country aims to vaccinate at least 80 per cent of its population. In May the government announced a cross-border travel agreement with Singapore starting May 17 for emergency travel, which includes funerals and visits to critically ill family members.

Myanmar

After the February 1 coup that led to the current political crisis, Myanmar now has a reported 143,065 total cases and 3,212 deaths. Many of the nation’s frontline workers have stopped working and joined forces with the pro-democracy protesters following the coup, and, as the government continues to crackdown on its citizens and shut down the data and internet due to the civil disobedience movement, the healthcare system of Myanmar has also collapsed. The nation is currently seeking assistance from the COVAX initiative to acquire vaccines, with Australia also providing financial support. 

Philippines

At 1,143,963 cases and 19,191 deaths, the Philippines is the second country in ASEAN after Indonesia with the most reported coronavirus cases. The island country is also going through a major political upheaval as citizens protest against job losses, food shortages, and economic breakdown with the government cracking down on dissent. 

Meanwhile, its business sector has spoken up, and more than 30 local companies have signed an agreement with the government to purchase at least 2.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The country plans to inoculate around 25 million people (25 per cent of the population) throughout 2021 starting in June. 

Singapore

Having been one of the most successful countries in ASEAN and around the world in combating the virus, Singapore has reported 38 new community cases in the past 24 hours, which is the highest for more than a year. The country has so far recorded a total of 61,585 cases and 31 deaths, and is working on producing its own line of vaccines, Lunar, in a joint venture with US-based RNA medicines biotechnology company Arcturus Therapeutics and the Duke-NUS Medical School. 

Vietnam

Also among the most successful nations in containing the outbreak, Vietnam has a total of 4,212 cases and 37 deaths and is often considered as ASEAN’s greatest success story. Vietnam acted fast, restricted travelling between the country and China early despite its close proximity, implemented a massive testing-and-tracing strategy, and committed to data transparency.

On top of signing an agreement with a Taiwan-based vaccine company to secure 3 to 10 million doses in 2021, Vietnam is also working on producing its own vaccine, in collaboration with Icahn School of Medicine and global health nonprofit organization PATH. As of May 16, a total of 979,238 vaccines have been administered, with the government expecting a total of 110 million doses available by the end of 2021. However, with the recent surge in cases, this could face some difficulty. 

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