People wearing face masks at Da Nang international airpot in Da Nang, Vietnam, 27 July 2020. EFE-EPA/STRINGER VIETNAM OUT[VIETNAM OUT]/FILE

Southeast Asia ramps up measures as Covid-19 cases surge

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, May 4 (EFE).- The upsurge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks in several Southeast Asian countries is testing the response of hospital systems and forcing authorities to resume some preventive measures.

The most worrying situation seemed to be in Malaysia, where almost 5,000 new cases were registered Saturday, when the Health Ministry gave its latest update, while there have been 30 deaths linked to Covid-19 in the last month, after several weeks without deaths from this cause.

The increase in infections has caused a shortage of hospital beds in some states, especially in the west of the country, where the hospital occupancy rate is about 80 percent, while some media speak of the difficulty of finding virus detection kits in the pharmacies.

A healthcare worker collects a swab sample from a man at a coronavirus testing facility in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, 16 November 2020. Indonesia has recorded over 470,000 cases of COVID-19. EFE/EPA/DEDI SINUHAJI/FILE

The upward trend had already begun since the end of March, but authorities fear thousands of displacements due to the recent holidays at the end of Ramadan on Apr. 21 will cause an uncontrolled increase in cases, for which they have called for caution and to avoid very crowded places.

The effect of the holidays due to the end of Ramadan is also one of the great concerns of Indonesian authorities, where the number of infections exceeded 2,000 daily cases Saturday, its highest point in the last 10 months, according to the health ministry.

The increase in transmissions has led to an increase in deaths since the beginning of April, with 37 deaths registered on Friday and another 27 on Tuesday, after not registering any for this cause since December.

A worker sprays disinfectant, in an effort to combat coronavirus and COVID-19, at the entrance to a school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 14 April 2020. EFE-EPA/AHMAD YUSNI/FILE

Although there have been no significant changes in the regulations, authorities have reminded citizens to remain vigilant, wear sanitary masks in crowded places and get vaccinated if they haven’t.

Also in the Philippines, the number of cases has skyrocketed since mid-April, with more than 2,400 infections registered Monday, although for now it has not caused changes in the number of deaths from Covid-19 and the hospital occupancy rate remains low.

Faced with the risk of the pandemic hitting hard, the Philippine health ministry ordered hospitals Thursday to re-reserve specific spaces and beds for Covid-19 patients.

In Vietnam, where authorities of some cities have taken preventive measures, such as the return of masks, infections have also increased and there have been at least 11 deaths from coronavirus since mid-April, the first in four months.

Local authorities asked hospitals to prepare to respond to a possible surge in cases as most Vietnamese returned to work Thursday after a five-day holiday with millions of commutes across the country. EFE