MANILA – Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) must work together to counter the adverse social and economic impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic on the regional bloc, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday.
“To effectively overcome the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, Asean must collaborate and coordinate within our region and beyond,” Duterte said during his address at the Special Asean Summit on Covid-19.
During the “Laging Handa” press briefing aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Duterte joined his fellow Southeast Asian leaders in a “virtual” meeting to discuss ways to defeat Covid-19.
Duterte said that while the immediate responses made by Asean member-states to fight Covid-19 were necessary, these could drive the societies and the large international community “further apart.”
He warned that retreating from the regional and global connections would be counterproductive.
“An effective, strategic response requires that we come together and cooperate even more,” Duterte said.
Among the Asean member-states, the Philippines now has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, which is at 4,932.
It is followed by Malaysia (4,817), Indonesia (4,557), Singapore (2,918), Thailand (2,579), Vietnam (265), Brunei Darussalam (136), Cambodia (122), Myanmar (39), and Laos (19).
Tuesday's summit included discussions on a regional stockpile of medical equipment for emergencies and establishing a regional fund for combating the pandemic
With travel restrictions and lockdowns across the region, many industries have been hit hard, including the tourism and retail sectors, and growth targets have been revised downward. The overall economic impact of the pandemic on the region will "likely be broad and deep," according to an Asean assessment. (PNA/AP)