Effective responses toward COVID-19 pandemic require a country assessment of needs and priorities while ASEAN needs to strengthen the mechanism for immediate and accurate exchange of information
Kuala Lumpur, 4 August 2020 – CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) hosted the CARI Briefings webinar under its COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan Series, titled “How Can ASEAN Bounce Back: Fostering Public Health Safety and Economic Resilience for a Borderless Community in ASEAN.” The session featured Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, Director-General of Health Malaysia.
Moderated by Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of CARI, the discussion centred on Malaysia’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s cooperation with ASEAN and the international community in addressing COVID-19, as well as how to strike a balance between public health safety and the survival of the economy.
1. Each country needs to assess and mitigate public, economic and social risks of COVID- 19 impact
Dr. Noor Hisham noted that, “As each country in ASEAN is confronted by varying degrees of preparedness and challenges, in-country responses will have to take priority during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each country should assess its risk and rapidly implement the necessary measures at the appropriate scale to reduce both COVID-19 transmission as well as the economic, public and social impacts,” said Dr. Noor Hisham.
For example, Malaysia opted for targeted testing that focused on high-risk groups instead of the mass-testing. New daily COVID-19 cases in Malaysia came from being the highest in ASEAN within the range of hundreds back in March and April, to within single digits since early July. With the daily cases under control, Malaysia currently has the fourth-highest cumulative number of cases in ASEAN, behind Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.
“The Malaysian government gave space to the professionals to drive the fight and propose measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. Malaysia has also been fortunate in having Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham who leads a team of informed professionals dedicated to the fight against COVID- 19 to secure our lives and to save our livelihoods. His sure hand and reassuring voice have given the Malaysian nation a sense of comfort in these dark and challenging times,” commented Tan Sri Munir.