In the Philippines, tens of thousands of people are crowding into political rallies in Manila, and the zoo there is packed. In India, millions fanned out last weekend to celebrate a Hindu festival. And in South Korea, 15,000 fans descended on a stadium in Seoul for three nights to see K-pop band BTS perform for the first time since October 2019.

Many Asian-Pacific countries are dismantling thickets of COVID-19 rules at bewildering speeds, even though the omicron variant of the coronavirus is still raging in parts of the region. The moves are driven by a mix of medical advice, economic pressures and the sentiment of a pandemic-weary public that enough is enough.

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