Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia June 16
Over 260 Vietnamese citizens come home from Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt
The Vietnamese citizens in Egypt before boarding
A total of 266 Vietnamese citizens were brought home from Kuwait, Qatar, and Egypt on June 15 and 16 thanks to concerted efforts by the Vietnamese embassies in the three countries, Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways and relevant agencies of the host nations.
The citizens included children under the age of 18, persons with severe illnesses, pregnant women, and labourers with expired or cancelled contracts.
Right upon their arrival, all the passengers and crew members on board received heath examination and were put in quarantine in the Southern region in line with regulations.
Under the Prime Minister’s directions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Transport, domestic agencies and Vietnam’s overseas representative agencies have arranged a number of flights to bring Vietnamese citizens home.
On the basis of the pandemic’s developments in the country and the world, citizens’ aspirations and local quarantine capacity, more flights are set to be conducted in the coming time to repatriate Vietnamese citizens.
Six coronavirus-positive cases left in Vietnam at present
There are only six people positive for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in Vietnam, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control reported at 6:00am on June 16.
In this morning, the country confirmed no new cases, marking 61 days in a row without any infections in the community.
Of the 334 cases recorded in Vietnam so far, 194 were imported and quarantined upon arrival.
Some 323 patients, or 96.7 percent of all cases, have recovered and zero deaths have been reported.
Two of the 11 active patients have tested negative for the coronavirus once and three at least twice.
A total of 9,234 people who had close contact with patients or came from pandemic-hit areas are now under quarantine in Vietnam.
The Guardian lauds Vietnam’s COVID-19 containment efforts
The UK news outlet the Guardian has recently published an article in which it praises the achievements of Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, for their success in the battle against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to the prestigious news publication, the majority of Southeast Asia appeared on the brink of a major COVID-19 breakout just months ago due to the outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan escalating out of control at the worst possible time as Chinese tourists usually flock to hotels and resorts across the region in the buildup to the Lunar New Year.Thailand was described as being particularly vulnerable due to the large number of travelers it had been receiving from Wuhan, resulting in the neighbouring country having the second highest number of cases outside of China by the end of January.
As footage began to circulate online of panic gripping Wuhan hospitals and local residents collapsing in the streets, health experts pondered the question of how countries with far weaker health systems would be able to cope.
At present, the virus has gone on to cause plenty of deaths and misery across Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines, Indonesia, and in the living accommodation of migrant workers in Singapore, where officials are struggling to control outbreaks. But elsewhere throughout the region, the worst fears have largely been avoided.
Thailand has recorded a total of 58 deaths, while Malaysia is confirmed to have suffered 120 fatalities. Vietnam, which has won great praise for its swift response, has not recorded a single death.
Dale Fisher, professor at the National University of Singapore and chair of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network at the World Health Organization, underscored the importance of public awareness, which has ultimately been a key factor in the success that many countries have enjoyed, adding that clear, coherent messaging is essential.
“When you have a country with a weak leadership then people get confused. They’re not sure what to do or who to believe, and then you legitimise ignorance,” said Fisher.
Experts state that by acting swiftly and drawing on well-established systems put in place following the SARS epidemic in 2002, health departments in many Southeast Asian countries have avoided explosions of community transmissions as seen elsewhere.
Israel admires Vietnam for COVID-19 combat success
Deputy Ambassador of Israel to Vietnam Shirel Levi has expressed her great admiration for the fight against the novel coronavirus in Vietnam, saying Vietnam could set a role model for other countries to follow suit.
Meeting with several reporters in Hanoi on June 14, the diplomat said Vietnam has done a good job in bringing the disease under control, while the pandemic is evolving in the complex manner globally, even in Israel.
Both Israel and Vietnam soon moved to suspend flights from China where the coronavirus was said to break out, but the latter has now controlled the virus whole the former is still struggling to contain it, Levi said.
Vietnam, a country with a population of more than 95 million, has so far confirmed 334 coronavirus cases with no deaths reported. Of the total, as many as 323 cases have fully recovered and have been discharged from hospital.
Meanwhile, Israel, which home to just more than 9 million people, has reported 19,008 cases with 300 deaths.
Levi said the Israeli embassy in Hanoi has followed with keen interest the COVID-19 combat since it broke out in Vietnam. It has got an update, carried out in-depth analysis and made recommendations with regard to the fight for the Israeli government.
At the meeting, the diplomat briefed reporters on the fine development of the friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries, especially in technology development, economics, trade, agriculture and education.
Japan, UNDP provide basic support for COVID-19 prevention to poor households
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Japanese Embassy in Hanoi announced the provision of basic support to poor and vulnerable households in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Ca Mau provinces for the prevention of COVID-19.
This support includes the provision of 1,300 packages of personal protective equipment and 1,300 water tanks for storage of clean water.
This initiative is part of the financial support from Japanese people under the Japan Supplementary Budget to 11 countries in Asia and the Pacific, including Vietnam. UNDP is responsible for technical support and overall management and delivery of this support.
Caitlin Wiesen, Resident Representative of UNDP in Vietnam, expressed her delight to work closely with the Japanese Embassy and the Vietnamese Government to provide some of the urgent COVID-19 protection needs for vulnerable, poor people in three provinces.
This support is part of an integrated response to enable vulnerable households to meet their basic needs as they recover from the pandemic and ensure no one is left behind, she said.
The Japanese Embassy’s representative also expressed the hope that Japan’s contributions will be used to help vulnerable households affected by COVID-19 and to make a real difference, especially, in the three provinces.
According to the most recent UNDP assessment, poor, near poor and vulnerable households, including small holder farmers and informal workers, are among the most affected due to impacts of COVID-19 and droughts in the South (south-central coastal and Mekong Delta regions).
The UNDP’s study says that combination of COVID-19 and drought/saltwater intrusion reduced household-level revenues by 55 percent. An average of 54 percent of households in Bac Lieu, Binh Thuan and Ca Mau faced extreme impacts caused by the combined impacts of COVID-19 and drought/saltwater intrusion. Poor households spent significantly more on water, electricity, and food during COVID-19 social distancing period; some had to sell their livestock.
As a result, the poor and near poor currently have limited ability to provide for the basic needs of their families including their ability to prevent COVID-19. They lack resources to procure water storage or hygiene items that are essential for protection against COVID-19.
Vietnam sends masks to OVs in Switzerland amidst COVID-19
The Vietnamese Embassy in Switzerland on June 14 handed over masks of the Vietnamese government to the Vietnamese community through the Association of Vietnamese Intellectuals and Experts in Switzerland (AVIES) and the Vietnamese students’ association in the host country.
In her remarks, Ambassador Le Linh Lan highlighted Vietnam’s marked achievements in the fight against COVID-19 that have been lauded by the international community.
She thanked the Vietnamese community in Switzerland in general and the two associations in particular for their support to the Vietnamese government during the combat, and urged them to make more contributions to the two countries.
AVIES President Luu Vinh Toan said Vietnam’s successes in the pandemic fight have helped to raise its position and prestige in the international arena.
He also spoke highly of the embassy’s efforts in citizen protection, which has encouraged the overseas Vietnamese to have more activities towards the homeland.
ASEAN, RoK officials discuss COVID-19 cooperation
Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Lim Jock Hoi and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Kang Kyung-wha had phone talks on June 15 to discuss ways to boost cooperation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the talks, Minister Kang said the RoK is looking into measures that would allow special entry of businesspeople from ASEAN member states to enable essential economic activities.
Regarding the RoK’s COVID-19 outbreak and its continued quarantine efforts, she called for the ASEAN secretariat to take an active role in uniting the will and capabilities of ASEAN nations to overcome the pandemic.
According to the minister, expanding cooperation with ASEAN in health-related fields will be a key topic for the RoK, in line with its New Southern Policy, a signature initiative being pushed for by President Moon Jae-in's government to deepen ties with Southeast Asian partners.
The ASEAN chief, for his part, agreed that ASEAN and the RoK should continue to work closely together to help boost economies hurt by the disease.
He expressed his thanks for the RoK's 5-million-USD assistance to the bloc’s member countries via a cooperation fund to provide COVID-19 test kits and protective gear.
Indonesia sees highest COVID-19 death toll on single day
Indonesia on June 15 reported 1,017 new coronavirus infections and 64 more related deaths, the highest COVID-19 death toll on a single day in this nation.
The figures brought the total number of cases to 39,294 and fatalities to 2,198, the Indonesian Ministry of Health said, noting that the recoveries from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 reached 15,123.
Meanwhile, authorities in the country have begun to ease restrictions.
Jakarta Metro Police spokesman Yusri Yunus said 2,702 police and military personnel have been deployed to shopping centers in Jakarta capital and four satellite cities on June 15, the first day these places were re-opened.
He added they will not only guard malls but also enforce discipline on the public in accordance with health protocols inside the buildings.
In the Philippines, the number of COVID-19 cases rose to 26,420 after the Department of Health confirmed 490 more infections on June 15. The death toll also increased to 1,098 as 10 more patients succumbed to the viral disease.
Malaysia reported 41 new cases the same day, pushing the total infections there to 8,494. Meanwhile, no more deaths were recorded, keeping the number of fatalities at 121.
Malaysia’s unemployment rate makes record high in 30 years
Malaysia’s unemployment rate in April spiked to 5 percent, the highest level since 1990, amid the movement control order (MCO) applied to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The closure of operations for most businesses during the MCO resulted in the loss of employment, and job seekers could hardly find jobs.
The number of people out of jobs went up to 778,800, a 48.8 percent rise compared to one year ago, according to the country’s Department of Statistics.
The working population decreased by 156,400 persons, or 1 percent, year on year to 14.93 million persons.
The department said the most affected employed persons were in the manufacturing and services sectors, namely accommodation and food & beverage; arts, entertainment & recreation and other services such as beauty centres and salons.
Thailand goes 21 straight days with no new coronavirus cases
Thailand has gone 21 straight days with no new COVID-19 cases recorded on June 15, keeping the total number of infections in Thailand at 3,135 with 58 deaths.
Among the total infections, 198 cases were imported.
On the same day, the Southeast Asian country entered the fourth stage of lockdown relaxation with curfew lifted nationwide. It is also the first day when businesses and activities in the highest-risk category can resume
Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said that he doesn’t know if the country will be able to maintain this disease-free status.
Thailand must proceed with an effective defence because the number of Thai people who have registered to return from other countries remains at four or five digits, he added.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government was still deliberating which areas visitors would be allowed to go to when the ban on tourism is lifted.
Those areas would need to have disease control measures in place, including social distancing. Permitted areas could be closed if problems occured, the PM said.
Singapore updates entry-exit regulations
The Singapore Department of Health on June 15 announced new entry-exit regulations to be applied from June 18.
Accordingly, all travellers entering Singapore from 23:59 on June 17, and who had remained in Australia, Brunei, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan (China), New Zealand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Vietnam in the last consecutive 14 days prior to their entry, will no longer have to serve their 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated SHN facilities.
The testing regime will apply to all travellers entering Singapore from 23:59 on June 17.
They will be subject to a compulsory COVID-19 test and also have to pay for both the test and the full cost of the SHN facility.
Currently, the cost of tests and the cost of SHN facilities have been borne by the Singapore government. A COVID-19 test costs up to 200 SGD (144 USD), while a 14-day stay at a dedicated SHN facility amounts to 2,000 SGD.