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|The Special Meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council in Vientiane, Laos|
The meeting attracted the participation of ministers of foreign affairs of the 10 ASEAN member states who shared information and discussed a common response to the new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Addressing the event, Vietnamese Minister cum Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said that Vietnam has quickly implemented effective methods to fight against COVID-19. In the role of ASEAN chairmanship in 2020, Vietnam will continue promoting effective measures inside the region and between the ASEAN and its partners.
Minh also believed that with strong determination and timely action by the governments and people in the region, the disease will soon end and investment and business activities will soon return to normalcy.
"It is very important that ASEAN states unite to effectively respond to the challenges from the outbreak of the disease," he said.
At the event, the ministers reviewed the ASEAN’s efforts both at the national and regional levels as well as co-operation with external partners and the international community to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. They commended timely and effective actions undertaken by the ASEAN health sector and relevant sectoral bodies, including the ASEAN defence establishments, as agreed by the ASEAN Defence Ministers in Hanoi on February 19, 2020.
Besides, the ministers stressed the resolve of ASEAN Member States to prevent the impacts of the disease from affecting the overall ASEAN Community building process and the normal functioning of the ASEAN. The Ministers noted the outcome of the Special Video Conference of ASEAN Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Network with China on February 20, 2020, which will further contribute to ASEAN-China collective efforts and co-ordination in addressing the outbreak.
Particularly, the ministers discussed the way forward to strengthen ASEAN co-operation and collective action in curbing the threat from COVID-19 and agreed to reaffirm the ASEAN’s cohesiveness through joint actions of mutual assistance, including sharing transparent information, experience, and best practices; building capacity in the prevention, detection, research and treatment of COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases; providing appropriate consular support to ASEAN Member States’ citizens where needed, based on relevant guidelines agreed to by ASEAN Member States. They also expressed confidence in the states' collective ability to manage the situation. In addition, they affirmed the importance of enhancing the ASEAN’s responsiveness to act promptly and effectively to control the disease through promoting multi-sectoral and cross-ASEAN Community engagement, building upon existing efforts by the ASEAN health sector. The ministers also encouraged collective action by the ASEAN with the enhanced role of the ASEAN Coordinating Council as the main monitoring body and the ASEAN Secretariat serving as the regional co-ordination hub that helps facilitate networking and exchanging of timely information among relevant ASEAN bodies.
It is expected that a consolidated report providing an update on the COVID-19 situation and response will be released at the 36th ASEAN Summit.