Vietnam postpones ASEAN summit until end-June over coronavirus

By Huyen Le   March 19, 2020 | 10:00 pm PT
Vietnam postpones ASEAN summit until end-June over coronavirus
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) attends an ASEAN summit in Bangkok, Thailand, June 2019. Photo by Vietnam News Agency.
An ASEAN summit scheduled in Vietnam early next month has been postponed until the end of June amid complicated coronavirus developments.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has informed leaders of other Southeast Asian countries and the bloc's partner New Zealand about the postponement, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.

With Vietnam acting at the chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, the group's 36th summit had been scheduled to take place on April 6-9 in Da Nang in central Vietnam.

PM Phuc said Vietnam has basically finished preparation for the summit, but the delay is necessary as Covid-19 is spreading fast in the region and around the world. Da Nang itself is treating four coronavirus patients.

ASEAN has 10 members - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and eight partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the U.S.

The ASEAN Summit is a biannual meeting held to discuss economic, political, security and socio-cultural development of the bloc's members. It is a prominent regional and international conference, with world leaders attending its related summits and meetings to discuss various problems and global issues and strengthen cooperation in tackling them.

So far, Covid-19 infections have been recorded in six ASEAN member nations - Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Malaysia has issued a two-week national lockdown after infections in the country spiked to the highest in Southeast Asia at over 600, along with two deaths.

Vietnam announced on March 17 that it would demand quarantine for all visitors from the United States, Europe and ASEAN countries and suspend the issue of new visas for all foreign nationals.

The country recorded 85 infects as of late Thursday night, 17 of whom have recovered.

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