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Vietnam, Cambodia lead ASEAN comeback in Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index

Cambodia and Vietnam lead the way in Southeast Asian for countries bouncing back from the impact of the pandemic, according to the Nikkei's latest and final COVID-19 Recovery Index.

Japanese news service Nikkei Asia outlines that after being tied for 100th place when the ranking was first published in July, 2021, both Cambodia and Vietnam have achieved a dramatic turnaround, finishing in the top 10 for four consecutive months.

Some other ASEAN members states have also significantly improved from a year ago, when ASEAN countries occupied the bottom places.

Nikkei's index assesses a total of 121 countries and regions in terms of infection management, vaccine rollouts, and social mobility. A higher ranking indicates a more advanced recovery, characterised by lower infection and death rates, better inoculation coverage, and fewer restrictions placed on movement.

Observations over the past 15 months indicate that even countries that have suffered major outbreaks have turned things around, first through determined vaccination drives and then by choosing to relax restrictions.

Nikkei Asia’s latest report also highlights that both Vietnam and Cambodia enjoyed early success in managing COVID-19 one year into the pandemic, but were subsequently hit hard by the Delta variant which emerged in the middle of 2021 when they had barely started the mass inoculation process. This forced the duo to impose draconian measures, including harsh lockdowns.

Nevertheless, they were able to successfully speed up their inoculation drives, meaning Vietnam earned full marks, or a score of 30, for vaccinations in the latest index, while Cambodia scored 29. Both governments have since dropped COVID-related restrictions and fully reopened their borders to international tourists, according to the report.

The newswire emphasises that progress made by the two Mekong neighbours has since translated into a brighter economic outlook ahead.

In its latest economic forecast, the World Bank (WB) raised Vietnamese annual growth prediction to 7.2% from 5.3% and Cambodia's to 4.8% from 4.5%. In addition, it also upgraded the growth rates for Malaysia and Thailand to 6.4% and 3.1%, respectively.

Elsewhere, Malaysia ranked 38th in the latest recovery index, while Thailand ranked 70th. Two other nations in Southeast Asia declined in the latest ranking, with Laos slipping to 89th from 79th the previous month, and the Philippines falling to 101st  from 97th.

China, the initial champion of the index, finished in 46th place as the world's second-largest economy sticks to its zero-COVID policy, thereby limiting its recovery.

Qatar, set to host the World Cup starting next month, shared top position with Bahrain and Rwanda.

Source: VOV