Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan had flattened the curve. Then travelers from the US and Europe began reimporting the virus.
ON ANY DIGITAL dashboard tracking the spread of Covid-19, on any graphic comparing country-by-country case curves or death tolls, they were the champs. Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea—leaders there saw what was headed their way from China in the early days of the new coronavirus, before it became a pandemic. They remembered what happened two decades ago with SARS: People died, economies suffered. So they locked down their immigration hardest and soonest, deployed public health workers to follow up contacts of cases, got their hospitals shored up, and started publishing clear and consistent information and data. They flattened their curves before the rest of the world understood there would be curves to flatten. But in recent weeks, those curves have taken another chilling turn. The numbers of new cases in these places are creeping upward.
Hong Kong’s slow and steady case count started going up on March 18, and took an 84-case jump on March 28. After months of new cases barely brushing double digits, Singapore’s count jumped by 47 on March 16, and since then the city-state has had three days with more than 70 new cases each. Taiwan’s new-cases-in-a-day peaked at 5 in late January … and then jumped into the high 20s per day in, again, mid-March. South Korea had 86 new cases on April 3.