Apr 18, 2020 - World

Two Asian coronavirus success stories face new wave of infections

Factory workers being tested before entering a dormitory in Singapore

A migrant worker is tested by security at a factory in Singapore. Photo: Ore Huiying/Getty Images

Japan and Singapore were glimmers of hope throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but now both countries are struggling to control the breakout as new waves of infections hit the two countries.

Why it matters: The new wave of outbreaks highlights holes in their health systems and response strategies.

In Singapore: The country reported a high of 942 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to almost 6,000, AP reports.

  • Foreign workers live in crowded factory dormitories, with 12-20 people sharing a room, and make up about 60% of Singapore's cases.
  • Migrant labor rights groups have warned for years that these conditions would eventually cause widespread problems, The Washington Post writes.
  • Tens of thousands of workers are quarantined to their rooms with some moving to safer places due to crowding.

In Japan: The country's often-praised hospital system is near its breaking point as hospitals are being forced to turn away patients and struggle with staff and equipment shortages, AP writes.

  • Japan's initial plan to close spaces like clubs and gyms initially worked, but the virus still spread with many new cases being untraceable.
  • Some Japanese emergency rooms are even turning away patients suffering from strokes, heart attacks or external injuries.
  • Experts blame the government for not embracing social distancing, a shortage of medical gear and equipment for the worsening situation, per AP.
  • There are fears that Japan's outbreak could worsen.


  • South Korea has had success controlling the outbreak through mass testing and quickly flattened the curve of outbreaks. However, more than 160 patients tested positive for the virus after initially recovering from it — suggesting the virus lasts longer than initially anticipated, The Wall Street Journal notes.
  • In China, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian said China's numbers changes show that Beijing is likely responding to both domestic and international pressure regarding how it evaluates the number of dead in Wuhan.

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