Peter Vandergeest, an Asia specialist at Toronto's York University and founding director at the York Centre for Asian Research, is irritated that critics put the region's situation with the virus down to autocratic governments and an obedient population.
He said that certainly doesn't apply to Thailand, a place he has often visited for his research and where cases remain low.
"Anybody who's been to Thailand knows they are not rule followers," said Vandergeest. "But when it comes to something like the virus, they take it very seriously."
Vandergeest said that willingness to wear masks and comply with quarantines may be because of a history of experience with epidemic disease.
While scoffing at the idea that Asians are somehow all alike but different from North Americans or Europeans, Vandergeest, like many others, points to New Zealand, which has had only 25 deaths, and Australia, despite a second peak, which has cut serious cases to near zero.
Like Taiwan, New Zealand's success can be partly attributed to its early and strict crackdown and careful watch on infections from abroad. But Australia was a different case, where the second severe lockdown led to complaints from business leaders at the time that it would be devastating for business. This week, restrictions were lifted and business began opening again.
While the St. Mike's epidemiologist, Jüni, is encouraged by successes in Asia and Oceania, he is skeptical that they can be repeated here in Canada. That is because while it is theoretically achievable to stop the disease in its tracks, he believes that is effectively impossible in a climate where people spend so much of their time indoors.
"It has an unfortunate tendency in certain situations to become highly contagious in indoor settings," said Jüni. "When we reach May and we all go outside again, we will be able to keep the thing relatively easily [under control]. But now it's next to impossible."