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Coronavirus

In Asia, government actions impact Nikkei COVID Recovery Index

Vaccine rollouts and case declines send Taiwan up 17 places while Laos drops 28

People crowd Orchard Road, Singapore's famous shopping district. Singapore and Hong Kong moved up the COVID-19 Recovery Index to be on par with Western countries, while many Southeast Asian countries have fallen back due to delays in vaccination.    © AP

TOKYO -- Some countries and regions in Asia have seen their rankings on Nikkei's COVID-19 Recovery Index change significantly over the past week, with Taiwan leading the biggest jump of 17 places as the island appears on track to overcome its latest outbreak.

Taiwan is now in the 66th spot, according to index results as of July 7, compared to 83rd place last week, thanks to falling case numbers and accelerated vaccine rollouts.

On the other end of the spectrum, Laos was the biggest loser on the index, tumbling 28 places to the 94th, due to imported cases spiking, reportedly because migrant workers are returning home from Thailand.

Singapore rose to the fifth from 12th to be on par with Italy, Hungry and Qatar. Hong Kong also went up six places to 14th.

Japan, Australia and Cambodia all slipped five spots. Japan's government is set to declare a state of emergency for the Tokyo area through Aug. 22, which has resulted in the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee banning all spectators at venues in the capital and three surrounding prefectures.

South Korea and the U.K., both of which ranked 48th previously, slid to 51st and 55th, respectively. South Korea will impose its strictest social distancing rules in greater Seoul for two weeks from Monday as daily cases hit a record high of 1,316 on Thursday.

Several Southeast Asian countries were at the bottom of the index. Vietnam is down 14 places to 114th. The former COVID haven now wants Ho Chi Minh City and nearby provinces to take more aggressive measures against a wave of coronavirus infections sweeping the country's southern commercial hub. It has also set a target to vaccinate 50% of people aged 18 or older by the end of this year and 70% by March 2022.

Indonesia remained at 110th, as daily new cases and deaths both hit record highs this week. Government officials and epidemiologists alike were quick to point to the Islamic holiday of Eid as a key factor for the recent surge. But complacency could be another factor. The country's mobility trend data from Google shows that Indonesians had been more "out and about" in the past few months compared with the same period last year.

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