The rates of COVID-19 cases in the Asia-Pacific region continue to vary by country, with several countries experiencing new outbreaks after several months of well controlled cases. Daily case numbers in India, Indonesia and the Philippines continue to increase at a significant pace, whereas cases in Australia, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam have risen after months of stability. Numbers of reported confirmed cases in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan and Nepal remained stable or decreased in recent weeks.
Governments in the region continue to maintain an array of control measures at points of entry, including mobility restrictions to and from the country, modified visa and document policies, requirements for medical certificates indicating a negative COVID-19 test result, medical requirements, and entry limitations based on nationality or country of origin. Overall, however, countries are gradually easing restrictions, and the majority of monitored points of entry in Asia and the Pacific are either partially or fully operational.
Many countries have begun to develop and implement socioeconomic recovery plans to address the severe economic impacts of the pandemic, while balancing these activities with continued efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In Japan, the Government’s “Emergency Economic Measures for Response to COVID-19” include cash assistance to all individuals and businesses, as well as recent a travel incentive program to promote domestic tourism. The Government of Malaysia has gradually been lifting the Movement Control Order, originally implemented in March, and is now requiring workers to submit COVID-19 screening results in order to resume employment. The governments of Bangladesh and Malaysia are discussing a plan to regularize undocumented migrants in Malaysia amidst an ongoing suspension of foreign worker recruitment through the end of this year.
Resumed economic activity can present serious protection risks for migrants and other vulnerable groups. Many migrant workers who have returned to their home countries or provinces since the start of the COVID-19 crisis are interested in re-migrating now that some travel restrictions are being eased. Among the migrants that continue to work, there have been reports of abuse and exploitation of workers during the COVID-19 crisis. IOM is actively working with UNCTs across the region to develop country-based socioeconomic response plans, stressing the role that migrants and migration can play in accelerating recovery and development efforts and linking these plans with the COVID-19 and Migration multi partner trust funds.
- International Organization for Migration
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