ASEAN chief hails Vietnam’s leadership in regional response to COVID-19 hinh anh 1Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Dato Lim Jock Hoi speak at the online Special ASEAN and ASEAN+3 Summits (Photo: VNA)

Jakarta (VNA) - Vietnam has demonstrated its strong leadership in spearheading a collective regional response to COVID-19, said Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Dato Lim Jock Hoi.

He made the remarks in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s reporter in Jakarta, Indonesia, following the online Special ASEAN and ASEAN+3 Summits on the COVID-19 response chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on April 14.

The summits were a concrete demonstration of ASEAN’s solidarity and leadership manifested in concrete regional cooperation with its Plus Three neighbours, especially in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

According to the Secretary-General, the summits were also an opportunity for ASEAN to enhance cooperative relationships between ASEAN Plus Three counterparts, together to respond COVID-19. Especially given the pandemic has shown that the virus knows no national boundaries, and a collective response will complement and strengthen, national and local responses.

The ASEAN health sector, as one of the first regional responders to the COVID-19 outbreak, has been reaffirmed by the ASEAN leaders in its mandate to concretise collective efforts from all stakeholders and sectors, to support a whole-of-government and whole-of-health system approach with a stronger regional response in mitigating the impact of this pandemic.  

“On the economic front, ASEAN has renewed our commitment to ensure continued macroeconomic and financial stability and liquidity; ensure supply chain connectivity and production and distribution continuity particularly of essential supplies such as medical supplies, food and agricultural products; and mitigation of the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable households and individuals, affected sectors, and small, micro, and medium enterprises,” he said.

The summits have also reaffirmed the need for a post-pandemic recovery plan, he said, adding that this plan will involve collaboration among industries, private sector and other actors.

The leaders also urged greater collaborative effort in information and knowledge sharing not only in areas of medical development but also on domestic policies related to social and health security given the vast impact of COVID-19 on communities, the Secretary-General said.

“Vietnam has demonstrated strong leadership in spearheading a collective regional response to COVID-19. Its Chairmanship theme of building a cohesive and responsive ASEAN is very relevant given the situation we find ourselves in. Indeed, ASEAN has come together and responded quickly to the pandemic since February, and today, through the two summits. ASEAN’s strong response is in large part due to Vietnam’s leadership in encouraging our continued dialogue and collaboration,” the ASEAN chief stressed.

“The convening of today’s summits conducted via video conference has been an achievement in its own right. Vietnam has shown that we can overcome the challenges of COVID-19 if the region works together in unity and with resilience,” he concluded./.