In today’s bulletin: The world’s biggest lockdown is extended, Asean holds virtual meetings, Malaysia PM to tighten grip on ruling coalition, expectations rise with key IMF meeting set to begin, creativity in Covid-19 times, China allows human trial of two experimental vaccines, and more.
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INDIA EXTENDS LOCKDOWN; INDONESIA DECLARES COVID-19 OUTBREAK ‘NATIONAL DISASTER’
Two of Asia’s most populated countries tightened measures to contain the pandemic even as debate grew elsewhere of the need to ease or lift lockdowns to resume economic activity.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of India’s 21-day lockdown to May 3, adding that his government would make a call on whether economic activity could resume by April 20. India’s lockdown was due to end today (April 14).
President Joko Widodo, meanwhile, declared the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia a “non-natural national disaster” in a presidential decree in a move that gives the task force greater authority to deal with the pandemic.
Both countries have had relatively lower numbers of cases compared to countries elsewhere but there have also been concerns over inadequate testing of people to rule out coronavirus infections.
The global tally for Covid-19 infections now exceeds 1.8 million people with nearly 115,000 dead.
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Philippines ramps up coronavirus testing to find thousands of unknown infections
Interactive: Slowing the spread of coronavirus in Asia
ASEAN HAS TO MOUNT UNITED RESPONSE TO COVID-19, SAYS PM LEE
Asean has to mount a united response to the coronavirus pandemic as the region is deeply connected and interdependent, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a Special Asean Summit on Covid-19 via video conference.
He suggested that countries can work together by sharing information, collaborating to keep trading routes and supply lines open, and building resilience to deal with future economic shocks.
At the summit convened by Vietnam, this year’s Asean chair, countries spoke of the need to mount an urgent response to address the public health, economic and social impacts of the pandemic.
Coronavirus and practical solidarity: What Asean can and should do
Covid-19 challenges Asean to act as one
MUHYIDDIN TIGHTENS GRIP OVER PERIKATAN NASIONAL COALITION GOVT
The test for Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was due to come in May when he would have had to prove his support in Parliament.
With some weeks to go still, Tan Sri Muhyiddin is moving to appoint a host of ruling lawmakers to various state agencies to tighten his grip over the Perikatan Nasional coalition government that he leads.
This comes after he named 70 ministers and deputy ministers in what is now the second largest administration ever to be assembled in the country. Malaysia Bureau Chief Shannon Teoh reports.
Mahathir remains Bersatu chairman as son seeks presidency
MAKE OR BREAK MOMENT AT IMF
Many countries continue to suffer economically because of the pandemic and experts say international response to the crisis – described as the worst after World War II – has been far from adequate.
Later today, as finance ministers and central-bank governors log in for the virtual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, many eyes will be on the concrete steps to be announced to ease the strain faced by countries.
A lack of forceful action could set the stage for damaging debt defaults and prevent a post-pandemic robust recovery.
Coronavirus chaos is the IMF’s biggest test ever
LIVESTREAMED WEDDING, DRIVE-THROUGH PARENT-TEACHER MEETING IN COVID-19 TIMES
People are coming up with creative ways to keep themselves safe and still go on with life during an ongoing social distancing campaign in South Korea. As part of this one school arranged for parents to have a drive-through meeting with their children’s new teachers while a couple live streamed their wedding and interacted with their guests online. South Korea Correspondent Chang May Choon reports.
Walter Sim: Covid-19 gives boost to touchless tech
IN OTHER NEWS
CHINA’S TWO EXPERIMENTAL VACCINES TO ENTER CLINICAL TRIALS: China has approved early-stage human tests for two experimental vaccines to combat coronavirus. The vaccines are being developed by a Beijing-based unit of Nasdaq-listed Sinovac Biotech, and by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group.
PHILIPPINES REMOVES BAN ON NURSES WORKING ABROAD: The Philippines is allowing health workers with existing overseas contracts to leave, relaxing an order earlier this month to keep them in the country to reinforce the country’s healthcare system amid the pandemic. Medical professionals with signed contracts as of March 8 will be allowed to leave.
CHINA AIRLINES IN SPOTLIGHT: Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines, has become the focus of political angst on the island after some countries and people mistakenly assumed that China was sending masks for protection against coronavirus infections, when the packages were actually from Taiwan.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Stay safe and we’ll be back with you tomorrow.
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