Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Southeast Asian countries intensify COVID-19 control measures

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads in Southeast Asia, various countries intensify their own measures to combat this crisis.

Malaysia locks down entire nation

Malaysia has imposed a nationwide lockdown, banning all visitors and restricting residents from travelling overseas. The country has also closed down schools, places of worship as well as most business premises. Only markets are allowed to remain in operation, according to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on late Monday, 16 March. The lockdown will last until 31 March.

In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is the worst affected country with 553 cases, 125 of which were reported only yesterday.

Philippines expands lockdown

The Philippines has also intensified its lockdown, expanding the coverage area to the entire island of Luzon, which is home to about 57 million. President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the suspension of all public transport except for essential travel such as supply runs. Businesses are also ordered shut except for supermarkets, pharmacies, and establishments that provide food.

Earlier today, 17 March, the Philippine Stock Exchange suspended trading indefinitely in light of the broader quarantine measures.

Duterte’s “community quarantine” has been met with criticism, as the Philippine government seems to be treating the matter as a peace and order issue rather than a medical emergency. Border checkpoints became chokepoints on Monday, the first day of the implementation, rendering social distancing measures ineffective.

To date, the Philippines has 142 infections and has recorded 12 deaths.

Indonesia rules out lockdown, citizens urged to stay home

Indonesia, meanwhile, has experienced three straight days of declining figures on new COVID-19 cases. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has continued to urge his constituents to stay home and reduce activities in public areas. Schools have been shut down for the next two weeks, with students taking online classes instead. Public transit services in Jakarta have been reduced as well.

The leader has ruled out the idea of a lockdown both at the regional and national levels. As of yesterday, Indonesia has reported 134 confirmed infections and five fatalities.

Thailand readies for widespread transmission

Thailand has reported 33 new cases yesterday, raising its infections to a total of 147. With this increase in numbers, the country has started stepping up its measures to contain the spread of the virus. The Thai public holidays on 13 to 15 April known as Songkran have been cancelled. Activities at universities, tutorial centres, and schools have also been suspended. Crowded venues such as cinemas, stadiums and other entertainment establishments have been closed down as well. 

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