ASEAN looks into coordinating measures to curb epidemic spread
The ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) held its 25th meeting in the form of a video conference on April 9 under the chair of the council’s chairman - Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh speaks at the online meeting.
The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of the 10 member countries of ASEAN.
The ACC has played an active role in coordinating and promoting ASEAN’s synchronous and inter-sectoral efforts in fighting the COVID-19 epidemic. In follow-up of the February 20 meeting, the event on April 9 continued to examine the directions and measures for ASEAN coordination for containing the spread of the epidemic and mitigate its impacts on society and the economy.
The ministers were of the view that ASEAN, more than ever, should uphold its cohesive and responsive spirit so as to effectively contain the epidemic and alleviate its socio-economic impacts, including supporting enterprises and the people, especially micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and disadvantaged groups, ensuring social security and building plans for post-epidemic economic recovery.
They underlined the immediate priority of stopping the spread of the epidemic, and affirmed the need to quickly, drastically and seriously implement measures already adopted by many countries such as physical distancing, tracing sources of infection and quarantining.
In that spirit, the ministers approved recommendations submitted by the ACC Working Group on Public Health Emergencies (ACCWG-PHE), which focused on three aspects: containing and preventing the spread of the epidemic; supporting people in ASEAN countries affected by the epidemic, including giving consular assistance to ASEAN citizens living, working and studying in other ASEAN member countries or third countries; and mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the epidemic.
Addressing the meeting, Deputy PM and FM Pham Binh Minh shared Viet Nam’s experience in taking early, concerted and flexible responding measures, and mobilizing the participation of the entire political system, all-level administrations, all sectors and the people, including the support of the military and the use of military facilities. As a result, Viet Nam has reaped initial positive outcomes in containing the epidemic.
Deputy PM Minh stressed that ASEAN should continue to promote the comprehensive, concerted, inter-sectoral and inter-pillar approach of the entire ASEAN Community, as well as the cooperation with partners in preventing and combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
He clarified and thanked countries for supporting Viet Nam’s proposals on strengthening ASEAN’s joint efforts in responding to COVID-19, such as setting up the region’s reserves of medical supplies and essential goods to meet needs in emergency, building a common response process of ASEAN in health emergencies based on guidance of the WHO, and organizing online drills of the ASEAN Centre of Military Medicine on responding to epidemics.
The ACC discussed preparations for the Special Summits of ASEAN and ASEAN+3 (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) on responding to the COVID-19 epidemic in the form of video conference, slated to be held on April 14. The ministers took note of information shared by Viet Nam on the organization plan and documents scheduled to be adopted at those summits.
The ministers affirmed that they will coordinate closely with each other, with the ASEAN Chair – Viet Nam, and with the partners to make the best preparations for those especially important events.
At the end of the meeting, the ministers took turns to declare, in their respective languages, their commitment to unity among ASEAN countries in the fight against COVID-19./.