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Asia’s Unlikely Coronavirus Outbreaks Back ‘One Big Wave’ Theory

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:09 PM
Joseph Young
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:09 PM
  • Hong Kong and Vietnam brace for new outbreaks as new coronavirus cases emerge.
  • The WHO warns the second wave might not exist. Some scientists say it could be one continuous wave of cases.
  • Lawmakers now have a dilemma on whether to revive the economy or control the pandemic.

Hong Kong and Vietnam, two countries that handled the pandemic efficiently, now face new coronavirus outbreaks. Experts now fear a second wave of the pandemic even more so, sending shockwaves throughout Asia.

Hong Kong recorded 145 new cases on Monday and is regularly seeing over 100 cases per day.  Vietnam confirmed 15 new cases in Danang, marking the first new local case in three months.

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Virus cases in Hong Kong. Source: Government of Hong Kong 

WHO Gives Mystifying Message as World Braces a Second Coronavirus Wave

As countries that reached a peak in virus cases see new cases, the authorities believe a second wave is imminent.

Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, said the region is on the verge of “a large-scale community outbreak.” 

The government of Hong Kong issued a policy to demand mandatory face masks usage  and ordered dine-in restaurants to close.

Vietnam evacuated 80,000 individuals from Danang and is now on high alert.

The country’s state broadcaster VTC reported that Vietnam’s prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked government officials for urgency.

He said:

We have to act more swiftly and more fiercely in order to control the outbreak.

To date, Vietnam has only seen 450 cases throughout the entire pandemic. Despite the low number of cases, the Southeast Asian nation’s urgency to prevent new cases show the pandemic’s severity.

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Vietnam warns the city of Hanoi of a potential virus outbreak. Source: James Pearson 

Following the initial precaution, on July 30, Prime Minister Phuc said every other province and city in Vietnam is now at risk.

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Cases in Vietnam begin to spike again. | Source: CNBC 

Amidst the fear of the second wave of virus spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new warning, suggesting the second wave may not happen due to one dire reason .

Some scientists believe the world could still be in a continuously-expanding “one big wave.”

Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the WHO, said:

People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and this one is behaving differently.

Linda Bauld, a professor at the University of Edinburg, echoed a similar message.

Bauld noted that the term “second wave” is not a term that is typically used by scientists in epidemiology.

She said the coronavirus might be seeing the localized return of cases across many regions. Bauld explained:

‘Second wave’ isn’t a term that we would use [in epidemiology] at the current time, as the virus hasn’t gone away, it’s in our population, it has spread to 188 countries so far, and what we are seeing now is essentially localized spikes or a localized return of a large number of cases.

What’s the Answer?

Lawmakers and the authorities have two options in the near-term.

First, risk a bigger economic downturn  with the implementation of stricter policies to control the pandemic.

Vietnam is doubling down on its original containment strategy to combat its first cases in nearly 100 days. | Source: Shutterstock.com

Second, establish reasonable restrictions until a vaccine is mass-produced, and open the economy to a certain extent.

The fear that the second wave did not exist at all, and it could be one continuous wave could force new restrictions.