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Covid-19 and Policy Updates in ASEAN: 13 October - 20 October 2021
OVERVIEW Vietnam has issued temporary guidelines on living safely with Covid-19, replacing existing lockdown measures, and outlining criteria to segregate the territory according to four levels of Covid-19 threats. Cambodia has seen a drastic reduction in daily Covid-19 cases for 18 consecutive days. Indonesia has extended community activity restrictions (PPKM) until 1 November. More business establishments will be allowed to open from 16-31 October as mobility restrictions are relaxed in Philippines’ Metro Manila. From 18 October, the quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers arriving in Malaysia will be halved from 14 days to seven, but unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers will need to undergo a 10-day quarantine upon entry. Thailand is proceeding with reopening for quarantine-free travel for five low-risk countries on 1 November. Over 2,400 travelers have been granted a pass to enter Singapore under a quarantine-free travel scheme after applications opened on 13 October for visitors from eight designated countries. Myanmar is finalizing procedures for reopening its tourism sector to foreigners in early 2022 and will initially target visitors from Southeast Asia. A Covid-19 vaccine tracker is appended to the end of this bulletin. It monitors plans and progress for vaccine procurement in individual ASEAN countries. ASEAN Covid-19 Impact Index The health and economic consequences of Covid-19 in ASEAN countries have been serious​ But in general, Covid-19 cases on a per capita basis in Asia have been significantly lower than in many European and North American countries COUNTRY ANALYSIS Cambodia Cases: 117,035 Deaths: 2,681 Population: 16.9 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 4.2% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: Data not available Cambodia reported on 18 October a steady decline in daily Covid-19 cases for 18 consecutive days. This comes after Cambodia switched from rapid tests to polymerase chain reaction tests for official case reporting and stopped active community testing aimed at identifying asymptomatic cases Phnom Penh city authorities on 14 October announced the extension of restrictions on high-risk businesses and the ban on gatherings of 15 or more people until 28 October Phnom Penh announced on 13 October vaccination certificate requirements for the whole city as part of a gradual reopening process. All individuals over 18 must produce proof of vaccination when entering all premises, including schools, markets, and business outlets Cambodia announced on 16 October reduced quarantine periods for fully vaccinated inbound travellers. With effect from 18 October, foreign investors, technical experts, diplomats, and returning Cambodian officials will be required to undergo a three-day quarantine. Other Cambodians and foreign inbound passengers will be quarantined for seven days Cambodia implemented on 18 October a new “StopCovid QR Vaccine” QR code system to manage contact tracing and ease vaccination checks Indonesia Cases: 4,236,287 Deaths: 143,049 Population: 276.9 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 3.9% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 7.07% Government officials said on 18 October that community activity restrictions (PPKM) will be extended until 1 November. Starting from 19 October, 54 regencies and cities will be categorized as level 2 with nine classified as level 1, with eased social distancing restrictions based partially on vaccination rates Indonesia stressed the need for equitable Covid-19 vaccine distribution globally and adequate financing for vaccine delivery during the 6th COVAX AMC Engagement Group meeting Indonesian epidemiologists called on the government to hold off negotiations to purchase a potential antiviral pill – Molnupiravir -, produced by US pharmaceutical company Merck and p and to instead focus on increasing the country’s vaccination rate Indonesia announced on 14 October the resumption of international flights from 19 countries to Bali, with plans to also resume flights to the Riau Islands of Batam and Bintan under certain conditions. Following the reopening, the quarantine period has also been reduced from eight to five days Malaysia Cases: 2,401,866 Deaths: 28,062 Population: 32.8 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 4.7% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 16.1% Malaysia reported 5,434 new Covid-19 cases on 18 October, the lowest daily figure since June 28. It also marked 16 consecutive days where the number of new cases stayed below the 10,000 mark The Klang Valley, comprising Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya and Melaka, entered Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (PPN) on 18 October, in which public and private sector workplaces can operate at 100% capacity, and cross-state travel is allowed, while the states of Kelantan, Perak, Penang, Sabah, and Kedah transitioned into Phase Three, with some eased social distancing measures. This means that from 18 October, there are no states in Phase Two of the PPN Malaysia announced that as of 18 October, the quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers entering the country will be halved from 14 days to seven. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers will need to undergo a 10-day quarantine upon entry into Malaysia. The government has also shortened the required close contact isolation period for the fully vaccinated from 10 days to seven days Myanmar Cases: 490,008 Deaths: 18,416 Population: 54.8 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): -8.9% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: Data not available The Health Ministry announced that as of 12 October, over 4.2 million people have been fully vaccinated nationwide, while over 6.38 million people have received their first dose In an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections, Myanmar has as of 12 October begun vaccinating middle and high school students aged 12 and above Myanmar announced the delivery of another four million Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine doses purchased from China. As of 15 October, China has supplied 26.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Myanmar, of which 5.9 million doses were donated Myanmar announced it is finalizing procedures to reopen its tourism sector to foreigners in early-2022 and will initially target visitors from Southeast Asia. This comes amidst a drop in new Covid-19 infections, prompting the lifting of a ban on inter-provincial travel. Myanmar said it is making arrangements for a travel bubble with Thailand and is planning to reopen borders with Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the first quarter of 2022 Philippines Cases: 2,731,735 Deaths: 40,972 Population: 111.3 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 5.4% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 11.8% On 18 October, the Philippines logged 6,943 new Covid-19 cases, the eighth consecutive day that the country has registered less than 10,000 new infections As of 17 October, the country has administered 52.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Of the total, 27.9 million were first doses while 24.2 million were second doses Authorities said more business establishments in Metro Manila will be allowed to reopen with mobility restrictions lowered to Alert Level 3 from 16-31 October. Under this alert level, business establishments will be allowed to operate at 30% indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and at 50% for outdoors The Inter Agency Task Force on Covid-19 eased restrictions for passengers arriving from abroad with effect from 14 October. Fully vaccinated Filipinos who test negative 72 hours prior to departure will not need to serve a quarantine, while those not tested will be undergo facility-based quarantine upon arrival until they receive a negative swab test result The Philippines on 15 October began vaccinations of children with comorbidities aged 12-17 as it continues to expand inoculation coverage against Covid-19 The country received on 15 October 844,800 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Germany through the COVAX facility. The country expects to receive 1.96 million more AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses later this month from Japan. The Philippines received 1,068,210 doses of Pfizer vaccines procured by the government on 15 October, and 720,000 doses of Sputnik Covid-19 vaccines and 207,090 Pfizer vaccine doses on 16 October Thailand Cases: 1,811,852 Deaths: 18,486 Population: 70 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 2.1% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 7.50% Thailand announced a shortened 11:00 pm to 3:00 am night curfew from 16-31 October. Convenience stores and markets along with cinemas, public parks, shopping centers and stadiums will be allowed to operate until 10.00 pm The Public Health Ministry placed 10 provinces on its Covid-19 watchlist due to spikes in community transmissions. The 10 provinces will undergo strict monitoring, frequent rapid testing, and ramped up vaccination efforts The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration approved a plan to buy 50,000 courses of Molnupiravir pills produced by US pharmaceutical company Merck, the world's first oral medication to treat Covid-19 if granted US FDA emergency use authorization Thailand said it will reopen quarantine-free travel for five low-risk countries – Britain, United States, Germany, Singapore, and China – on 1 November, provided they test negative less than 72 hours before boarding their flights Bangkok is setting up a Cov-19 “swab hub” screening point for tourists arriving in the capital. The swab tests will be conducted on arrival, with passengers undergoing hotel quarantine while awaiting results Thailand said that domestic flights can resume operating at full capacity and operate more flights with the shortened curfew period in the country. Thai Airways International meanwhile announced it will resume full service on 36 routes to Europe, Asia, and Australia, in response to the country being reopened to foreign tourists on 1 November The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Digital Government Development Agency announced that they are developing a new system to replace the certificate of entry with Thailand Pass for Thai nationals and foreigners wishing to enter the country via air Vietnam Cases: 870,255 Deaths: 21,344 Population: 98.3 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 6.5% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 6.61% Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said on 17 October that local authorities must adhere to the central government’s ruling on Covid-19 prevention and control, and not announce measures contrary to the national guidelines The government issued new temporary guidelines on living safely with Covid-19, replacing existing lockdown measures and outlining criteria to segregate the territory according to four Covid-19 threat and mobility restriction levels, with Level 1 being the lowest The criteria include the rate of new daily cases per population, the rate of vaccination, and treatment capacity. Following the guidelines, Hanoi has been designated as Level 1 and Ho Chi Minh City at Level 3. The circulation of goods, opening of shopping malls, several businesses, factories, and workplaces are allowed under different guidelines under the four levels Several provinces are requiring fully vaccinated people arriving from Ho Chi Minh City to be home quarantined for seven days, and unvaccinated individuals to spend seven days in quarantine facilities and seven days at home Passengers in public transport and inter-provincial travelers are no longer required to be tested, except for those arriving from Level 3 and Level 4 designated areas