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IOM Asia Pacific COVID-19 Situation Report 21 - October 28, 2020

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OVERVIEW

The rates of COVID-19 cases in the Asia-Pacific region continue to vary by country, with several countries starting to recover from second waves of infections, while in other countries, there are concerns regarding ongoing upward trends in cases. Daily case numbers in India, which remain the highest in the region, have started to decrease but still represent the largest proportion of cases in the region. Daily new cases in Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal and Sri Lanka are reflecting an upward trend, in certain countries after months of stability. Numbers of reported confirmed cases in Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Japan, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, and Republic of Korea have remained stable or decreased in recent weeks and months.

Tens of thousands of migrants continue to return to their countries of origin and many others remain stranded abroad.
From 4-17 October, 41,016 undocumented Afghans returned from Iran through the Nimroz (Milak) and Herat (Islam Qala) borders and 254 undocumented Afghans from Pakistan through Nangarhar (Torkham) and Kandahar (Spin Boldak). An estimated 450 Cambodian migrants are returning from Thailand each day; in total, more than 118,000 have returned since March. More than 116,000 Nepalis have been repatriated from 32 different countries, while more than 473,000 Filipinos have returned to the country since February. In Sri Lanka, a recent COVID-19 outbreak has led the government to place restrictions on commercial flights into the country, and the ongoing return of up to 50,000 migrant workers who have requested support to return was paused.

Still other countries continue to remove COVID-19 related restrictions and push new initiatives in an effort to revitalize their economies. In Indonesia, the National Agency for the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers announced the reopening of formal migrant worker placement for additional destination countries, increasing the list from 12 countries to 23 as of mid-October. In Japan, the government-led domestic travel incentive programme to stimulate the tourist industry has been used by more than 16 million people with discounts provided to travelers by the Government. The Government of Japan also lifted border restrictions to allow entries of resident status holders and cross-border business travelers from all countries.