(CBS) – As the United States and Europe reel from their first waves of the novel coronavirus, many Asian nations anxiously look ahead to the not-so-distant future for signs of a second surge.
The governments of China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore successfully flattened their first infection curves since the start of 2020 through tough measures both praised and criticized — from the unprecedented multi-million person lockdown in China to the quick “test, trace, treat” method of South Korea, the reignition of the SARS-born National Health Command Center in Taiwan and the quick shutdown of Singapore’s borders.
With domestic cases mostly tamped down, imported infections are now the biggest danger with citizens or permanent residents returning to their home countries — and serving as viral Trojan horses. Infections brought home from abroad account for much of the recent uptick in Asia’s new cases. Health experts are calling for vigilance, encouraging the public to fight coronavirus fatigue.
“I am nervous,” Dr. Jerome Kim, director-general of the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul, South Korea, told CBS News Asia correspondent Ramy Inocencio. “What I hope is that what we see instead are little blips, so it’s like putting out a fire. You know that there are going to be embers that are glowing or smoking. You want to stamp those out before the fire starts again.”