Thailand on Friday reported its single highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, recording more than 14,500 new infections. The country's health authorities have attributed the recent rise in cases and deaths to the Delta variant that was now present in 71 of the 77 Thai provinces.
The capital Bangkok and other high-risk regions have been placed under a lockdown as Thailand had only fully vaccinated around 5% of its population by the end of June.
Like this South-East Asian nation, the Delta variant is contributing to a rapid rise in Covid cases in many Asian countries who mostly fell short on mass vaccination drives.
"I call this a complacency curse," Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political science professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, told the Voice of America. "Thailand did so well during the virus stage last year that it sat on its laurels and got behind the curve on vaccine procurement."
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently termed the Delta variant the "most transmissible" of the variants identified so far.
Nepal was particularly badly hit by the virus strain, with a dramatic surge in infections overwhelming the local health infrastructure.
Afghanistan's cases were at an all-time high in June and the country's health minister, Wajid Majrooh, said that 60% of cases in the capital, Kabul, were due to the Delta variant, reports BBC.
The WHO also noted a worrying rise in virus cases in Indonesia and Bangladesh.
In Indonesia, daily cases and deaths have been rising since early June and the government has attributed this to the Delta variant.
According to the Our World In Data (OWID), the Delta variant was detected in 94% of the tests sequenced in Indonesia in the past two weeks.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent has said Indonesia is near a catastrophe with rising concerns over the availability of hospital beds and oxygen supply.
The pace of vaccination has risen in the country, but so far less than 6% have been fully vaccinated.
With a long border with India, Bangladesh has been experiencing an upward trend in cases since mid-May. According to the OWID, the Delta variant was detected in 92% of the tests sequenced in Bangladesh up to 28 June.
Amid the rising cases, the country Friday went into a 14-day lockdown after relaxing the curbs for around a week.
Bangladesh rolled out its mass vaccination programmes in February this year. Less than 3% of the Bangladeshi citizens had been fully vaccinated by 13 July.
Pakistan is experiencing a rise in cases following a significant fall in May and June, with 92% of positive tests sequenced in the city of Karachi showing the presence of the Delta variant.
Just 2% of the population of Pakistan has been fully vaccinated.
Cases in Mongolia have been falling since early July, following a severe wave of the virus, when it experienced one of the highest rates of infections and deaths per capita in Asia.
It now has a relatively high level of vaccination with more than 50% of the population fully dosed – most with the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine, says BBC.
Surging cases prompt new restrictions
On Friday, health officials in Australia's New South Wales reported a "national emergency" as the region registered a record number of new infections.
According to The Washington Post, New Zealand announced it was suspending a travel bubble with its pandemic-hit neighbour, while the Philippines said it planned to reinstate Covid-related measures in the capital, Manila, and would ban travellers coming from Malaysia and Thailand beginning Sunday.
Malaysia is also suffering from a devastating wave of infections.