Credit by AFP | Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (centre) addresses a live video conference on the special ASEAN Summit on the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Hanoi
ASEAN Leaders Meet Online to Tackle Covid-19
POLITICS & DIPLOMACY Beyond

ASEAN Leaders Meet Online to Tackle Covid-19

Southeast Asian leaders warned Tuesday of the crippling economic cost of the coronavirus at a summit held online, calling for trade routes to reopen to protect jobs and food supplies, as well as the stockpiling of medical equipment, AFP reported.

Vietnam --  which chaired the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting -- urged leaders to set up an emergency fund to tackle the pandemic, as the virus ravages the region's tourism and export-reliant economies. 

In opening remarks via video conference, Vietnam premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc hailed the work of ASEAN in fighting the virus so far.

A Thai government handout photo shows multiple screens of ASEAN leaders joining the special coronavirus summit hosted by Vietnam. Image: ROYAL THAI GOVERNMENT/AFP Handout
A Thai government handout photo shows multiple screens of ASEAN leaders joining the special coronavirus summit hosted by Vietnam. Image: ROYAL THAI GOVERNMENT/AFP Handout

But he warned the virus "has badly impacted people's lives, their socio-economic situation... challenging stability and social security".

Vietnam has so far had some success in containing the virus through extensive quarantines and social distancing.

It has recorded 265 infections and no deaths, while Thailand has officially also kept its numbers relatively low with just over 2,500 cases and 40 deaths.

Vietnam used the 10-member summit to propose funding to deal with the pandemic, building emergency medical stockpiles and sharing resources.

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc waits for the start of the ASEAN meeting Image: AFP/Manan VATSYAYANA
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc waits for the start of the ASEAN meeting Image: AFP/Manan VATSYAYANA

Both Malaysia and the Philippines said they would welcome a response fund, with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte warning he was “particularly concerned with food security”.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong echoed the group’s fears, urging the region’s leaders to collaborate “to keep trading routes and supply lines open”.

Leaders from China, Japan and South Korea also joined the summit.

Source: The Jakarta Post | Channel News Asia | 24Matins.UK

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