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COVID-19 Asia-Pacific News Roundup (July 2020)

With the COVID-19 pandemic still growing in many parts of the world, each country faces different challenges brought on by the virus, ranging from healthcare to poverty to food insecurity.

Compiled by Tricia Leong (Marketing Communications Intern)

The recently published news articles below explore some of the most significant challenges Give2Asia’s local partners are working to solve in their respective countries. To support their work, follow the donation links below or request a consultation with our international giving team.


Lack of Virus Tests Pushes Afghanistan Toward Crisis (AP News)

“Afghanistan faces a major health crisis as the lack of testing and other health resources leaves at least 80% of potential COVID-19 cases untested.”

An Additional 3 Million Children in Afghanistan Need Help to Survive in 2020 (Mirage News)

“In Afghanistan, COVID-19 is taking its toll on vulnerable families, especially for young children in need of life-saving support.”


Coronavirus gets personal: crying in the streets as Australian jobs vanish and lives change forever (The Guardian Australia)

“As businesses close, the COVID-19 pandemic is putting thousands of Australians out of work, many of whom now face homelessness.”

‘Gone from Bad to Worse’: Life of People on the Bridging Visa During Covid-19 (SBS Punjabi)

“COVID-19 is dramatically disrupting lives of close to 97,000 bridging visa holders in Australia who are unable to access the federal government’s COVID-19 support schemes.”

Battling second virus wave, Australia puts city of Melbourne under lockdown (Washington Post)

“A new wave of coronavirus infections prompted officials to impose restrictions on some 5 million people in Australia’s second-largest city, illustrating the difficulty of conquering the pandemic even in a country that had enjoyed relative success in taming its toll.”


Bangladesh Loses Doctors to COVID-19 (Arab News)

“In Bangladesh, an insufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors combined with multiple other factors is leading to the deaths of many doctors at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.”

A Coronavirus Crisis is Building Inside Cox’s Bazar, the World’s Largest Refugee Camp (ABC News)

“Basic resources run scarce in the world’s largest refugee camp, causing a “crisis within a crisis” as the virus spreads within the densely-populated, impoverished area.”


Bhutan: A Coronavirus Success Story (Carnegie India)

“With coronavirus cases held to the low double digits, Bhutan still faces shocks in key economic sectors like energy, agriculture, and tourism.”

Pandemic Could Push an Additional 120 Million Children in South Asia into Poverty, says UNICEF (CNN)

“In South Asian countries such as Bhutan where hundreds of millions of children already live in a state of poverty, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to push millions more over the poverty line in the near future.”


Laid Off Due to Virus, Cambodian Garment Workers Compete for Factory Shifts (Reuters)

“The closures of Cambodia’s garment factories due to COVID-19 has left many workers struggling to survive and has subsequently also led to a rise in child labor.”

Cambodia’s Food Insecurity Rises Due to COVID-19 (OneWorld)

“The effects of COVID-19 on Cambodia’s agriculture sector are leading to a rise in food insecurity in the country.”


Sudden, New Coronavirus Cluster in Beijing Points to the Growth Challenges Ahead for China (CNBC)

“Just as most businesses in China’s capital city were ready to put the coronavirus behind them, the reemergence of the disease over the weekend has elevated uncertainty over future growth…”


A Frantic Search for Scarce Hospital Beds as Pandemic Rages in India (Washington Post)

“While virus cases continue to increase in India, overcrowded and short-staffed hospitals- in addition to a lack of sufficient healthcare equipment- pose a major problem for the healthcare system and the thousands of COVID patients losing their lives while waiting to receive care.”

India’s Coronavirus Agony: I Did Everything to Save My Wife and Baby (The Guardian)

“It was to be a 15-hour ordeal that would expose how the coronavirus pandemic has pushed India’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse…”


Why Are So Many Indonesian Children Dying from Coronavirus? (ABC News)

“Achmad Yurianto, a senior health ministry official, told Reuters that Indonesian children were caught in a ‘devil’s circle’- a cycle of malnutrition and anaemia that increased their vulnerability to the coronavirus.”

Indonesia Business Chamber Says 6.4 Mln Jobs Lost So Far in Pandemic (Reuters)

“Millions of Indonesians have lost their jobs and fallen into poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic- and that number is expected to continue rising.”


Japan’s Pandemic Deaths Low, But Future Success Uncertain (The Asahi Shimbun)

“While Japan has managed to keep its COVID-19 mortality rates fairly low, it may not have the healthcare resources available to successfully prevent future infection waves.”

Over Half of Young Adults in Japan Felt Education Gap as Schools Closed Over Coronavirus (The Japan Times)

“The online survey, carried out by the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Nippon Foundation, found 58.6 percent of respondents age 17 to 19 felt there were inequalities in education during the pandemic, with some noting a lack of online classes in some schools during the closures.”


Experts Warning of Increased Nutritional Deficiency in Laos (The Phnom Penh Post)

“Stunting levels in Laos remain a public health concern even without a lockdown, but the recent restrictions on movement and difficulties in obtaining food during the Covid-19 outbreak have exacerbated the situation, nutrition experts say.”

International Health Organizations Praise Laos for Covid-19 Containment (The Laotian Times)

“Laos declared itself free of COVID-19 in early June. However, the country shares a border with China, who is handling a new outbreak, so imported cases still remain a threat.”


‘The Fear Is Always with Me’: Refugees in Malaysia Recount Recent Lockdowns and Raids (Pulitzer Center)

“Excluded from Malaysia’s COVID-19 relief package and in need of support, Rohingya refugees in Malaysia are living in a state of hunger, poverty, and constant fear of deportation.”

Survey Shows Covid-19 Affecting Nine in Every Ten Malaysian Workers (Malay Mail)

“A survey by recruitment agency JobStreet has revealed the massive impact of Covid-19 to the Malaysian workforce, with nine in 10 respondents saying the pandemic has forced changes to their work.”


AIIB Approves First Loan to Mongolia in Support of COVID-19 Response (India Education Diary)

“The Government estimated that 20 percent of the population, especially the poor and other vulnerable groups, are at high risk due to a strained healthcare system.”

Mongolia’s Unemployment Rate Increases by 10.6 Percent (

“Applications for Mongolian unemployment benefits have increased due to the pandemic closures. The number of registered jobless people increased by 10.6 percent in January-May, 2020 compared to same period last year.”


Myanmar Struggles to Test Returnees for COVID-19 (Myanmar Times)

“As hundreds of thousands of Myanmar citizens return from abroad, Myanmar’s limited testing capacity poses a major challenge in the fight against COVID-19.”

COVID-19 Pushes Rural Myanmar Towards Moneylenders (Frontier Myanmar)

“The economic impact of COVID-19 has already affected millions – probably tens of millions – of people in Myanmar, prompting fears that many are taking on high-interest debt from moneylenders that they will later struggle to repay.”


Nepal Faces a Crisis as COVID-19 Stems the Flow of Remittances (World Economic Forum)

“…the financial, digital and welfare infrastructure supporting Nepal’s migrant workers has remained largely inadequate, leaving Nepal struggling to respond to the twin challenges of falling remittances and hundreds of thousands of stranded or returning migrants now out of work.”

COVID-19 in Nepal: Is the Worst Yet to Come? (Online Khabar)

“COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Nepal as the country faces a food shortage, causing millions of poor to go hungry.”


Covid 19 Coronavirus: Three Months Without Clean Sheets- Home Care Workers Had to Stop Visits Without PPE (New Zealand Herald)

“Community-based health and disability providers in New Zealand struggle to access PPE, leaving many elders and people high high-needs and vulnerabilities without support and care.”

New Zealand a Step Closer to Recession as GDP Suffers Biggest Fall in 29 Years (The Sydney Morning Herald)

“New Zealand’s gross domestic product suffered its biggest fall since 1991 as the coronavirus pandemic began to bite in the first quarter.”


Pakistan’s Lockdown Ended a Month Ago. Now Hospital Signs Read ‘Full’ (New York Times)

“Since Pakistan lifted its lockdown on May 9, coronavirus cases have skyrocketed; however, hospitals do not have nearly (?) enough beds or ventilators to handle the crisis. In addition, many healthcare workers on the front lines lack access to PPE and are becoming infected at alarming rates.”

In Pakistan, Pandemic Could Push Millions More into Poverty (United Nations Development Programme)

“Spiking COVID-19 rates risk overwhelming Pakistan’s health system, slashing growth, derailing recovery, and pushing the country’s most vulnerable further into poverty…”


Scenes from a Philippine Hospital Overflowing with Coronavirus Patients (Vice World News)

“Still without a method of mass testing, many COVID-19 patients are forced to wait outside hospitals as the healthcare system struggles to keep the pandemic at under control.”

Survey Shows Filipinos Are Struggling With Hunger and Stress Due to COVID-19 Crisis (Vice World News)

“A recent survey reveals more than four million Filipino families going hungry since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, many of whom are also experiencing high levels of stress due to the pandemic.”


Singapore’s Migrant Workers Fear Financial Ruin After Virus Ordeal (Reuters)

“Amid the pandemic, migrant workers in Singapore face unease about their future as they face debt, low wages or unemployment, and poor living conditions.”

Fighting Coronavirus at the Dorms (The Straits Times)

“A sports and exercise medicine physician in Singapore recounts his experience volunteering at the migrant worker dormitories during the pandemic.”


South Korea’s Elderly Face Unique Challenges From COVID-19 (The Diplomat)

“As South Korea’s fight against COVID-19 continues, the country’s elderly remain especially vulnerable, facing not only the disease, but also poverty and mental health issues.”

Am I Sick or Just Hypochondriac? Coronavirus-induced Anxiety on the Rise (The Korea Herald)

“A recent survey suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting mental health for almost half of South Koreans.”


It Is Time to Change the Narrative: Measuring the Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on the Education of Children in Tea Plantation Communities in Sri Lanka (Amesty International)

“With the closure of schools and the switch to online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a large majority of children in Sri Lanka in lower socio-economic groups are unable to access e-learning and as a result, risk falling behind in education.”

Sri Lanka COVID Positive Number Closes in on the Two Thousand Mark as Repatriation Flights Continue (Economy Next)

“Sri Lanka’s total number of people diagnosed with COVID 19 nudged closer to the two-thousand mark last night as more returnees to the country from overseas tested positive for the virus.”


Thailand’s Migrant Workers Struggle to Qualify for Aid During Pandemic (Voice of America)

“Migrant workers stuck in Thailand since the COVID – 19 lockdown began in March are facing unclear immigration status and mounting bills even as the government provides some aid for unemployed laborers in the country.”


Timor-Leste’s COVID-19 Response (The Diplomat)

“The government’s timely and decisive action in the initial stage prevented a catastrophic situation, but uncertainty remains.”

In Dry Timor-Leste, Climate Resilience = COVID Resilience (

“In one of Southeast Asia’s least developed countries, the limited number medical facilities lack the equipment required to handle a potential outbreak, therefore increasing the importance of virus prevention measures. However, a low supply water during the country’s dry seasons pose a major obstacle to virus prevention for much of Timor-Leste’s population.”


Disabled People Struggle to Access Medical Services Due to COVID-19 (Viet Nam News)

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam, people with disabilities are struggling to access the medical services they require, all while facing various other challenges including unemployment and poverty.”

More to Be Done: The Case of Vietnam Responses to COVID-19 to Leave No-One Behind (International Science Council)

“Particularly, the economic crisis precipitated by the pandemic has imposed far-reaching impacts on the vulnerable workforce which includes women, unskilled laborers, migrant workers, and those in the informal economy.”

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Visit our COVID-19 campaign pages for each country below to see a selection of our nonprofit partners fighting the pandemic:

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