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The first teleconference of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies was held on March 31 under the chair of Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Vietnam.
The group was set up upon a proposal by Vietnam, the ASEAN Chair 2020, with a view to promoting cooperation in the ASEAN Community to cope with the complicated developments of the COVID-19.
Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups 10 member countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
During the teleconference, participants agreed to recommend the ASEAN Coordinating Council at the foreign ministerial level adopt specific actions to mobilise the overall strength of the ASEAN Community to curbing the spread of the pandemic and mitigating its impact on the socio-economic life of the member countries.
ASEAN countries agreed to step up information and experience exchanges in the bloc and increase cooperation with partners in preventing infections and providing treatment for COVID-19 cases.
They also pledged to work together to ensure safety for medical workers who are on the front line in the battle, while maintaining the supply of essential goods for the people and preventing fake news.
ASEAN will also intensify coordination to implement policies and measures assisting businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises, and vulnerable groups in the society.
Member states pledged to maintain the opening of market, facilitate goods and trade exchanges, and ensure social welfares for the people.
A teleconference of the ASEAN Senior Officals’ Meeting on preventing and combating COVID-19 is scheduled for early April this year.
The new coronavirus first surfaced in central China in late 2019. Infections have now exceeded 770,000 cases worldwide, with the United States, Italy and Spain overtaking mainland China in confirmed cases.
The coronavirus epidemic is "far from over" in the Asia-Pacific region, and current measures to curb the spread of the virus are buying time for countries to prepare for large-scale community transmissions, said Takeshi Kasai, Regional Director for the Western Pacific at the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO does not expect any country to be safe, as the coronavirus will eventually get everywhere, said WHO technical adviser Matthew Griffith./.
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