ASEAN, US enhance co-operation in COVID-19 fight

April 01, 2020 - 21:33

 A teleconference of senior officials of ASEAN and the US was held on Wednesday to promote co-ordination between the two sides in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and public health challenges.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng speaks at the ASEAN-US teleconference on COVID-19 coordination. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang

HÀ NỘI — A teleconference of senior officials of ASEAN and the US was held on Wednesday to promote co-ordination between the two sides in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and public health challenges.

The event was co-chaired by Head of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Việt Nam, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng, who is also Chairman of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group (ACCWG), and US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell.
Participants shared updated information on the developments of COVID-19, and measures to control the pandemic while confirming their commitment to strengthening co-operation in fighting the disease.
They agreed to share information and experience, provide technical assistance for one another, and exchange scientific research on ways to control and prevent infection and treat COVID-19 cases and maintain close co-ordination among their agencies in the work.
ASEAN member nations applauded the US for its support for them in the fight, including the US’s assistance worth US$19 million and its plan to support ASEAN in establishing a regional disease control centre.
The ASEAN side also asked the US to co-ordinate in training medical staff and giving more scholarships to ASEAN students to pursue public health studies in the US.
The two sides agreed to maintain measures to ensure safety for citizens of each side that have been affected by the epidemic.

Stilwell spoke highly of ASEAN's efforts and achievements in dealing with the disease.
He thanked ASEAN countries for creating favourable conditions for US citizens to return from epidemic areas, affirming that the US will provide support for citizens of ASEAN member countries in the US.

The two sides said they will co-ordinate to intensify measures to minimise the socio-economic impact caused by the pandemic, maintain open markets, stabilise the exchange of trade, services and investment, and ensure the supply of essential goods, especially medical supplies.

Deputy FM Dũng emphasised that ASEAN's proactive and timely response efforts have brought initial results in the fight. 
He also updated participants on Việt Nam's policies to combat the disease, adding that thanks to its drastic measures, Việt Nam is controlling the pandemic well.
The official also proposed co-operation orientations between ASEAN and the US in controlling and preventing the spread of the disease, as well as in coping with negative socio-economic impacts, affirming that Việt Nam will promote the co-ordination of ASEAN’s efforts for this work. — VNS

According to the US Embassy in Việt Nam, the US is providing new funding to support the COVID-19 battle for ASEAN countries with the goals of:
 Prepare laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19
 Infection prevention and control
 Enable risk communication
 Implement public-health emergency plans for border points of entry
 Activate case-finding and event-based surveillance for influenza-like illnesses
 Train and equip rapid-responders in investigation and contact-tracing
 Update training materials for health workers.

U.S. government agencies spearheading the international response, including the Department of State, USAID, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working closely to allocate funds based on COVID-19 hotspots and vulnerabilities. The US also co-ordinates with other donors to complement assistance and avoid duplicating efforts.