Easing lockdowns around the world present an opportunity to go back to the drawing board for many economies. In Asia, densely packed urban centers are a good place to start. The trick for planners will be to minimize disease outbreaks without quashing the promise of employment that has made cities a magnet.

By 2025, the world will have 37 megacities — defined as having at least 10 million people — and as many as 20 of them will be in Asia. Two-thirds of the region’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050, compared with 20 percent in 1970, according to the Asian Development Bank. Bustling metropolises have become a symbol of rapid growth across the continent, which has reached a level of urbanization in less than a century that took more than twice as long in other parts of the world.

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