PM exhorts united ASEAN stand in Covid-19 fight

By Anh Ngoc   April 14, 2020 | 09:25 pm PT
PM exhorts united ASEAN stand in Covid-19 fight
Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs the online ASEAN Special Summit and ASEAN+3 Special Summit on Covid-19 response in Hanoi on April 14, 2020. Photo by Vietnam's Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc says defeating the Covid-19 pandemic together will also prepare ASEAN and partners for other challenges.

"Standing alone, no country can repel the Covid-19 pandemic. Standing together, no threat can defeat us," PM Phuc said.

Timely responses and close coordination among the ten ASEAN members – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – was crucial in controlling and repelling the disease, he said in a Tuesday interview in Hanoi following the online ASEAN Special Summit and ASEAN+3 Special Summit on the Covid-19 crisis.

ASEAN+3 comprises the Southeast Asian bloc and three dialogue partners, China, Japan and South Korea.

"I believe that the ASEAN will soon overcome this pandemic. This challenge should not subdue us but should create a force for us to become stronger together and thrive as a truly united community that can proactively respond to any difficulties and challenges that arise in the future," he said.

Addressing the special summit, the PM said ASEAN should also pay attention to dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic, limiting its negative impacts on the society and economy, putting people’s benefits first, ensuring social security for all and leaving no one behind.

The bloc should also focus on boosting self-awareness in fighting and preventing the pandemic in the community while upholding the spirit of international cooperation, the PM said. The online summit was joined by leaders of all ten ASEAN nations, China, Japan and South Korea as well as the director of the World Health Organization.

This pandemic has proven that the theme of "Cohesive and Responsive" that Vietnam, which holds the ASEAN Chairmanship for 2020, has chosen for the bloc is completely timely and apt, Phuc continued.

Ever since the novel coronavirus broke out, Vietnam has been proactive, positive, and quick in action in leading and coordinating ASEAN's joint efforts as well as the bloc’s cooperation with partners, he said.

This was demonstrated by the issuance of the ASEAN Chairman's Statement on ASEAN Collective Response to the Covid-19 Outbreak in February, promotion of online conferences to maintain cooperation and coordination among countries, and enhancing international cooperation between the bloc and other nations to boost the effectiveness of the fight against the pandemic, he added.

Covid-19 has thus far spread to 210 countries and territories, claiming more than 126,700 lives.

In Southeast Asia, confirmed infections have surpassed 21,000 and the death toll to almost 1,000.

Indonesia has lost the highest number of lives at 459 while the Philippines leads in number of confirmed infections at more than 5,200.

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