Southeast Asia faces COVID-19 pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of the risk of Covid-19 infection in communities in Southeast Asia and this region needs to take drastic action more. The number of Covid-19 infections has risen significantly in Southeast Asia in recent weeks, several countries take measures from blockade orders, travel restrictions to border closures, according to AFP. “Many infectious clusters in the community are being confirmed in the area. Therefore, governments need to strengthen epidemic measures, including tracing and expanding testing. The whole society must also participate to prevent the spread of the new strain of Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes Covid-19, ”said Southeast Asia Regional Director of WHO Poonam Khetrapal Singh.

“Hot Spot” Malaysia

Currently, Malaysia has the highest number of infections in Southeast Asia with 900 cases and 2 deaths. Many cases in Malaysia have been linked to an Islamic event taking place from February 27 to March 1 with the participation of nearly 16,000 people, including about 14,500 Malaysians and 1,500 foreigners, including 130 Vietnamese, according to The Straits Times. Malaysian authorities are tracing the attendees of this event and encouraging them to report with local authorities to be supported medical assistance and testing. Before the complicated situation, Malaysia that became the first country in Southeast Asia declares a nationwide blockade in 2 weeks (from March 18). Accordingly, Malaysia closes borders, restricts travel, closes all schools and requires businesses not to be closed for the next 14 days, and prohibits citizens who go abroad. According to Bloomberg, the Malaysian government has announced that they will mobilize troops to ensure the blockade is strictly enforced because many people still do not comply. “Everyone stay home and obey the blockade order to protect yourself and your family. We have a slim chance to break the path of infection. Failure is not an option here. If we remain indifferent, we will face the third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, bigger than the tsunami, ”Health Minister Noor Hisham Abdullah wrote on Facebook.

Countries are busy to prevent the pandemic

In Indonesia, President Joko Widodo directed the increase in the number of kits and testing centers to ensure timely detection and prevent the spreading path of Covid-19, after the number of cases soared to over 300 with 25 deads in this country. Meanwhile, Indonesian police supervised and asked retailers to distribute supplies, limiting the amount sold to each person to avoid panic buying excess stocks. Learning from Malaysia, Indonesian authorities demanded a suspension of the Islamic prayer event in the town of Gowa yesterday. Over 8,600 pilgrims from around Indonesia, Asia and the Middle East are present in this town. Event organizer Mustari Bahranuddin claimed not to be afraid of Covid-19, decided to conduct a prayer service, but after hearing the encouragement of local authorities and he canceled the event. In Thailand, with over 270 cases and 1 death, the government has asked people to restrict travel, orders including all schools, bars, cinemas and other entertainment centers to be closed. Although Lao has not reported cases, it has sealed off borders with China and Myanmar. Myanmar is preparing US$200,000 in funding to buy medical equipment to fight the virus. The Philippines soon declared a state of emergency, sealing off Manila and the entire island of Luzon. Cambodia has confirmed 37 cases of coronavirus and it has ordered the closure of schools in the capital, Phnom Penh, and the popular tourist destination of Siem Reap. Cambodia has announced a ban on the entry of foreigners from the US and some European countries for 30 days. In Brunei, with nearly 75 cases, this country said its citizens and foreign residents in the country are barred from leaving the nation. Singapore now has more than 310 cases, the government requires people from abroad to quarantine within the last 14 days.

Vietnam proposes postponing 36th ASEAN Summit until June

Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified that with the complicated situation of Covid-19 epidemic, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on March 19 wrote to leaders of ASEAN countries and New Zealand proposing that the 36th ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN-New Zealand Summit, initially scheduled for April 8-9 in Vietnam’s Da Nang city, be postponed until the end of June. In his letter, PM Phuc affirmed that Vietnam has completed organizational work for the 36th ASEAN Summit, but the postponement is necessary in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic spreading in the region and the world, and being declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation.