Duterte to Asean: Prepare for future outbreaks, COVID-19 won’t be the last
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called on the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to prepare for future outbreaks as he noted that COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic the world will ever face.
“We have to be ready for future outbreaks. We, therefore, have to improve and expand existing Asean’s mechanisms to cover public health emergencies,” Duterte said during a virtual Special Asean Summit on COVID-19.
In pushing for preparedness in the future, the President pointed out that the region should establish an “early warning system” for pandemics in the region.
“This is something vital and concrete that we can do in a collective manner,” he said.
Duterte said this as he calls for stronger Asean cooperation against COVID-19, which has so far infected almost 20,000 in the region and killed more than 840.
The President cited four areas where the Asean region can increase cooperation against the health crisis: cooperation on health and medical equipment, food security, research efforts, and future preparedness.
Duterte said the region must boost production and facilitate intra-Asean trade of vital medicines and medical equipment and supplies.
He also said that the regional bloc should always remain open for trade, “crisis or not,” to ensure food security among member-states.
“Let us, therefore ensure the supply chain connectivity and the smooth flow of goods within our region,” he said.
“Food security is key in maintaining socio-economic and political stability, especially at a time of great difficulty for our people. We can ignore this only at our own risk.”
Further, Duterte encouraged Asean members to support vaccine and research and development initiatives.
“Retreating from the regional and global connections cannot be the answer. To effectively overcome the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aseab must collaborate and coordinate within our region and beyond,” Duterte stressed.
The President likewise, seized the opportunity to thank Brunei Darussalam and Singapore for their “timely assistance” to the Philippines.
“Our present challenge transcends borders and exempts no one. Regardless of how we handle the crisis within our own respective territories, we can only be truly safe if we defeat this virus everywhere,” Duterte said.
“Let us, therefore, strengthen our networks of solidarity and cooperation. Let us surmount this crisis together.”
To date, the Philippines has the most COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with 4,932 confirmed cases, of whom, 315 have died while 242 patients recovered.
Edited by JPV
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