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10.04.20 - 16.04.20 Sup SEAkers!


Streets near Petronas Towers, usually bustling with activities, are now seen mostly empty in Kuala Lumpur during Malaysia's lockdown.



This Week's News Spotlight:

Brunei revises home self-isolation to 14-days post discharge | Cambodia not to punish travel ban violators | Indonesia's Jokowi declares COVID-19 a "national disaster" | Laos announces first COVID-19 recovery | Malaysia's SMEs face difficulties when applying government aid | Myanmar allows ICRC access to Rakhine and WFP to Chin conflict zones | Philippines orders hospitals not to reject any patients | Singapore makes wearing of masks mandatory in public | Thailand makes treatments free for all COVID-19 patients | Vietnam citizens agree to extend social distancing


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Brunei revises home self-isolation to 14-days post discharge

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar addresses at a press conference on 12 April 2020.


Brunei will now implement a 14-day self-isolation at home for recovered patients discharged from the National Isolation Centre (NIC) as an added precautionary measure, following the discovery of a patient who showed symptoms and retested positive after being discharged.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is a paradigm shift in how countries deal with patients who have an indicative recovery from COVID-19, it will not be an easy task to convince recovered patients to continue staying at home for the benefit of others, there will be higher costs involved to ensure compliance


Click HERE to learn more about this news!



Cambodia not to punish travel ban violators

Some Cambodians violate the government order on a week-long travel restriction.


Interior Minister Sar Kheng called on authorities not to punish anyone who flouts the government’s directive on a week-long travel restriction, saying they should instead be educated.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: With many countries globally implementing restrictions on movements (and this proven to flatten the infection curve considerably), will this come back to haunt Cambodia for not enforcing the ban strictly?

Click HERE to learn more about this news!



Indonesia's Jokowi declares COVID-19 a "national disaster"

Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo declares COVID-19 a national disaster on 13 April 2020.


“[This decree] declares the non-natural disaster caused by the spread of COVID-19 a national disaster,” states the decree, which was issued on Monday. The decree also states that efforts to mitigate the outbreak are to be led by the COVID-19 Task Force with the cooperation of regional administrations, ministries and national agencies.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: With this decree, this will hopefully empower the President and the COVID-19 Task force to push through and implement some of these measures in the remote provinces, which might not be very cooperative unless forced to.


Click HERE to learn more about this news!



Laos announces first COVID-19 recovery

A 20 year-old woman was discharged on 14 April 2020 in Vientiane, Laos.


On 14 April, The Ministry of Health’s Centre of Information and Education for Health announced on its Facebook page that case 12 has been treated successfully and allowed to return home. Case 12 was admitted to the hospital on 6 April, after testing positive for the virus.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: While it is heartening to see the patient’s recovery, the Laotian government should take note of the relapse of previous cases worldwide, to err on the side of caution, and place this patient on home quarantine as the Cambodians have for their cases who have recovered.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!



Malaysia's SMEs face difficulties when applying government aid

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhhyiddin Yassin speaks at a press conference about the reviewing of economic stimulus package on 11 March 2020 after his first Cabinet meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

A week after the government announced an additional RM10bil allocation for small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), bureaucracy in applying for government aid is proving to be a stumbling block in helping businesses survive.


The application process was difficult with members required to submit numerous documents and the available fund of RM120mil for the employment retention programme (ERP) was now fully utilised. On the wage subsidy programme (WSP), the total sum allocated was also not enough as it only amounted to 19% of total wages in the formal private sector per month.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: It is quite clear that SMEs are badly hit by the COVID-19 situation, while it is heartening that the government has set up funds to assist these SMEs, the mechanics and the availability of the fund will be critical to prevent mass closure of SMEs, creating another serious problem for the government to handle.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!



Myanmar allows ICRC access to Rakhine and WFP to Chin conflict zones

Members of the Myanmar Red Cross society helping a child from a boat to an ambulance on 24 March 2020 in Sittwe, Rakhine, on March 24.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government allowed the ICRC to provide regular food assistance to affected civilians in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships in Rakhine State, which has been the epicenter of clashes between government troops and the Arakan Army (AA) since November 2018. The WFP was allowed to deliver food to people affected by the government and AA clashes in Sami town in Paletwa township in Chin State during the first week of April.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Amidst the rising number of casesin Myanmar, this is definitely a step in the right direction. International aid will help to provide urgent humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflicts. In these trying times, unity is key in winning the battle against the epidemic.


Click HERE to learn more about this news!



Philippines orders hospitals not to reject any patients

Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 13, 2020.

President Duterte has directed hospitals to accept patients, including those suffering from suspected COVID-19, or else their officials may face possible suspension and prosecution. Some major hospitals in Metro Manila earlier announced they would no longer accept patients with suspected coronavirus after reaching their maximum capacity.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This instruction will be hard to follow when the hospital’s resources are at its limits, taking in too many patients will jeopardise the other patients who are already hospitalised.Concurrently, the government will need to educate the masses and quickly set up large quarantine centers and standardise the procedure for suspected COVID-19 cases.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!



Singapore makes wearing of masks mandatory in public

People are seen wearing a mask outside in Singapore.


It is now mandatory to wear a mask when stepping out of the house, with some exceptions, announced Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (Apr 14). Individuals who are caught refusing to wear a mask will be fined S$300 on their first offence, while those who flout the rule a second time will be fined S$1,000. Egregious cases will be prosecuted in court, he added. Foreign residents caught breaching these rules might have their work passes or permanent resident status revoked.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Some might see this as a backtrack of the government’s directives to wear mask only if you are feeling unwell. In view of the recent spike in cases and the government’s provision of free reusable masks to every household, many saw this directive coming as the government is determined to smooth the curve during the circuit breaker period.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Thailand makes treatments free for all COVID-19 patients

A woman is swabbed during a demonstration of mobile units prepared by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration for quick coronavirus screening in the capital on 09 April 2020.

All coronavirus patients will be treated for free at all hospitals in Thailand, with the costs paid by three healthcare funds, effective retroactively from March 5.

Under a Public Health Ministry announcement, all hospitals, public and private, must do their best to treat Covid-19 patients without delay until they are out of immediate danger or transferred to other hospitals based on their coverage. They may not charge the patients but can bill the National Health Security Office (NHSO) later. A patient will have to pay medical bills only when he chooses not to be treated at the hospital he is entitled to use.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is a good move, hopefully this will help to allay the fears of those financially disadvantaged who are concerned with high medical bills and refuse to get themselves checked for COVID-19.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!


Vietnam citizens agree to extend social distancing

People are seen standing in line for free rice, at a distance of 2 m from each other on 12 April 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Nearly 90 per cent of Vietnamese have agreed that the Government should continue its social distancing policy beyond April 15 to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey conducted by Infocus Mekong Research, a market research service provider.


When asked about their present employment status, 80 per cent had negatively been impacted by COVID-19 and the required social distancing, but still elected to maintain the policy.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: It is heartening to see the Vietnamese’s unity in agreeing to a painful extension of social distancing for the better good despite the negative impact it may have on their employment status. This will give the government a lot more confidence and focus its efforts on defeating COVID-19.

Click HERE to learn more about this news!


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