Why South Asia Might Avoid the Worst of the Coronavirus

People wear mask following the coronavirus scare in New Delhi, India on February 1, 2020. (Photo by Muzamil Mattoo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Global health organizations are mounting an all-out battle to control the coronavirus disease (officially COVID-19). The virus (SARS-CoV-2) has infected over 40,000 and killed over 1,000.

South Asians are particularly vulnerable — they are densely populated, share porous borders with China, and trade with China — with historically underfunded health systems, understaffed hospitals, and overcrowded megacities. Several South Asian countries, including India (3), Nepal (1), and Sri Lanka (1), have reported cases. A Bangladeshi worker in Singapore tested positive on February 9.

Yet South Asia has yet to experience an all-out coronavirus outbreak. Unlike the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) outbreak in 2002-3, information on the recent coronavirus has traveled more freely. Developing nations, despite having fewer resources to screen, quarantine, and test for the virus than their wealthier counterparts, are more prepared after living through other zoonotic viruses such as Zika and SARS. And South Asia has yet to become a major travel hub, in comparison to countries like Thailand, which protects the region from the worst of the disease.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of zoonotic viruses, which are transmitted between animals and people. These viruses have been infecting humans for a long time, causing illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as

The Weekly

It’s like your other email briefings. But browner. Join thousands and get the newsletter that curates the best global news on South Asia(ns) every Sunday. We also send updates on events, giveaways, our original reporting, and more. Unsubscribe anytime.


Business & TechCultureEditor's PicksOpinionPoliticsSports
Privacy PolicyTerms of Use