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Asean, China agree on measures in response to coronavirus

Asean and China will strengthen coordination in combating the coronavirus (Covid-19) through existing cooperation mechanisms, exchanges of information, and promotion of related research.
Foreign ministers from Asean member states and China agreed on the measures at a special meeting held in Vientiane on Thursday to discuss a collective response to the virus outbreak.
The virus was first detected in China, where the number of deaths has now surpassed 1,500.
The virus is known to be present in six Asean member states with numerous confirmed cases and one death reported, and has been declared by the World Health Organisation to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
At yesterday’s meeting, the Asean and Chinese ministers praised the Southeast Asian nations and dialogue partners for their decisive measures to address the outbreak through their prompt sharing of information and other efforts to contain the epidemic and protect regional and global public health.
As a result of yesterday’s meeting, the ministers vowed to further the joint response to the disease, emphasising the urgent need for more cooperation on Covid-19 and its prevention and control, and to strengthen policy, dialogue and exchanges through existing mechanisms such as health ministry meetings and Asean-China Senior Officials Meeting.
In their joint statement, the ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation within Asean-led mechanisms and with external partners to address Covid-19 in a comprehensive manner, taking into account the different levels of development of health systems in the region.
The building of public awareness has been included by the ministers in the cooperation agenda. They agreed on the need to build community preparedness to ensure that people are correctly and thoroughly informed about the virus, and are not misled by misinformation or fake news.
The ministers agreed that Asean and China will work together to enhance disease prevention and control capacity with regard to emerging and remerging infectious and communicable diseases, exchange of data and experiences, pharmaceutical development including vaccines, personnel training, and the mitigation of supply chain disruptions of urgent medical supplies and equipment. The ministers, as representatives of the governments of Asean member states and China, agreed that their countries would commit to reducing the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development.
They would jointly maintain people-to-people exchanges and trade and investment activities in the region, and, based on the progress of the epidemic, resume and enhance exchanges and cooperation.
At a press conference following the meeting, Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith thanked his counterparts from Asean, and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, for their contributions to the success of the meeting.
The Lao minister and his counterparts from Asean member states expressed their sympathy and condolences to the government and people of China for the loss of life caused by Covid-19. In his address, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Asean counterparts that China would win the fight against Covid-19 with the support of the international community, including the Asean bloc. Meeting participants recognised the valuable work done by researchers and scientists on Covid-19 concerning its management, control and transmission.
They agreed to strengthen early detection and prevention by enhancing cooperation with the scientific and medical community and creating polices in response to the virus that were evidence-based.
Participants committed to create a safe and livable environment and to reduce the impact of future outbreaks on the socio-economic development of all countries. Filipino Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr Teodoro Lopez Locsin Jr., on behalf of the Philippines as country coordinator between Asean and China, said his country was committed to strengthen Asean-China cooperation and efforts to consolidate a response. 

By Somxay Sengdara
(Latest Update February 21, 2020)

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