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Covid-19 and Policy Updates in ASEAN: 6 October - 13 October 2021
OVERVIEW Singapore is barring unvaccinated individuals from dining in, entering shopping malls, hawker centers and coffee shops, or visiting attractions. Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh extended the suspension of high-risk businesses and the ban on gatherings of 15 or more people until 14 October. Malaysia lifted interstate and overseas travel restrictions from 11 October for fully vaccinated residents, as the country achieved its target of inoculating 90% of its adult population. Vietnam reopened travel between several provinces, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, by air routes, trains, and inter-provincial buses. Thailand is planning to lift quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated international travelers from low-risk countries from 1 November. Consumer confidence in Indonesia rose after the government eased mobility restrictions, but sentiments have not returned to optimistic levels. The Philippines on 10 October reached 30% of its vaccination target with over 23 million Filipinos being fully vaccinated. Myanmar is launching a Covid-19 vaccination program for schoolchildren aged over 12. 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: 115,607 Deaths: 2,559 Population: 16.9 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 4.2% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: Data not available Phnom Penh has extended the suspension of high-risk businesses and the ban on gatherings of 15 or more people until 14 October Phnom Penh authorities on 5 October issued a directive requiring all those aged 18 and above and parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments in the city that have been permitted to reopen Prime Minister Hun Sen said on 8 October that Cambodia will fully reopen its economy across all sectors if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for at least 10 consecutive days after the 5-7 October Pchum Ben public holiday Following Cambodia’s announcement late last month of plans to safely attract foreign tourists, the Thai Tourism and Sports Ministry on 12 October said it will establish travel bubbles with Cambodia along borders such as Thailand’s Trat province and Cambodia’s Koh Kong province The Asian Development Bank on 8 October approved USD 30 million in financing to help strengthen Cambodia’s health system amid a surge in new infections and sustained community transmission Indonesia Cases: 4,231,046 Deaths: 142,811 Population: 276.9 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 3.9% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 7.07% The government said on 11 October that it will allow visitors from 18 countries to enter from 14 October, and will reduce the mandatory quarantine period from eight days to five in a bid to revive its tourism industry. The names of the countries were not mentioned Bank Indonesia said on 11 October that while its September survey showed an improvement in consumer confidence after the government eased mobility restrictions in large parts of the country during its survey period, sentiments have not returned to optimism yet The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency said on 7 October that it has issued an emergency use authorization for the Chinese Zifivax Covid-19 vaccine. PT Jakarta Biopharmaceutical Industry, which is partnering with Zifivax manufacturer Anhui Zhifei Longcom Zhifei, said it would produce 50 million doses of the vaccine for Indonesia this year, and 20-25 million doses per month in 2022 Malaysia Cases: 2,361,529 Deaths: 27,593 Population: 32.8 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 4.7% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 16.1% Malaysia reported 6,709 new Covid-19 cases on 11 October, its lowest tally in over three months Health Ministry officials said on 11 October that with the improving Covid-19 situation in the country, Malaysia is ready to enter the endemic phase. Key indicators including the number of daily cases, number of clusters, hospital utilization capacity, and cases treated in intensive care units, have recorded a consistent decline since mid-August Malaysia on 11 October lifted interstate and international travel restrictions for fully vaccinated residents as the country achieved its target of inoculating 90% of its adult population Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob launched on 8 October Squad Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family Squad), which comprises 10,000 people who will traverse the nation and provide aid to those who have been hit by the Covid-19 health and economic crises The Ministry of Human Resources said on 7 October that it will provide Covid-19 self-test kits to employers who perform coronavirus screening tests on their employees Malaysia is set to raise the limit on government debt for the second time in a little over a year as it seeks to bolster its economic recovery, with the lower house voting to raise the statutory debt ceiling to 65% of gross domestic product until end-2022, up from 60% The debt increase will enable the government to fund RM 45 billion (USD 10.8 billion) in extra spending on economic aid and stimulus packages Latest statistics show that China remains Malaysia’s largest trading partner, with 18.6% of the country’s total global trade in 2020, an increase of 8.1% from 2019 despite both countries being hit by the pandemic last year. From January to August this year, the value of bilateral trade increased by 35.2% and reached over USD 108 billion, compared to the same period last year Myanmar Cases: 482,803 Deaths: 18,222 Population: 54.8 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): -8.9% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: Data not available Myanmar’s state-run media reported on 10 October that the country will launch a Covid-19 vaccination program for schoolchildren aged over 12 in the following week. About one million middle and high school level students who have enrolled for the 2021-2022 academic year will be vaccinated in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections Myanmar’s military regime said it may reopen schools in late October or in early November, as the daily rate of people testing positive for the virus has dropped below 10% in recent weeks. Schools in Myanmar have been closed for over two months amid the third wave of outbreak in the country and the emergence of clusters in some schools. Myanmar’s Health Ministry said on 6 October that the country is set to receive more than six million vaccine doses from the global health vaccine alliance GAVI. GAVI will provide more than four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and more than 2.2 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine. Philippines Cases: 2,690,455 Deaths: 40,069 Population: 111.3 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 5.4% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 11.8% The Philippines announced on 10 October that it has reached 30% of its vaccination target with 23.1 million Filipinos being fully vaccinated. In Metro Manila, 7.5 million or 77.53% of the 9.8 million target population have been fully inoculated With the arrival of more vaccine supplies in the country, the Philippine government on 11 October announced the start of Covid-19 vaccination for the general adult population, while the inoculation of children with comorbidities will start on 15 October Nikkei Asia’s latest Covid-19 Recovery Index has ranked the Philippines last out of 121 countries, listing it last in infection control, vaccination, and mobility. The report, released on 6 October, comes a week after the Philippines was ranked at the bottom of Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Resilience Ranking out of 53 countries The Department of Tourism said on 13 October that fully vaccinated Metro Manila residents of all ages are now allowed to travel in areas with less stringent quarantine classifications Singapore Cases: 135,395 Deaths: 192 Population: 5.9 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 5.2% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 14.7% The Ministry of Health announced on 9 October the expansion of vaccination-differentiated safe management measures to reduce strain on Singapore's healthcare capacity and protect unvaccinated individuals. From 13 October, unvaccinated individuals will no longer be permitted to dine in, enter shopping malls, hawker centers, and coffee shops, or visit attractions The Ministry of Health also announced that from 11 October Covid-19 quarantine orders will be scrapped and rules simplified to make healthcare protocols easier to understand and to reduce the burden on government resources. The government will instead rely more on antigen rapid tests and self-management In its biggest move to reopen Singapore’s borders so far, the government said on 11 October that vaccinated travelers will be able to fly to Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Britain, and the United States from 19 October, and to South Korea from 15 November, under an expanded Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme The Ministry of Health said on 8 October that the occupancy rate for Covid-19 isolation beds in Singapore's hospitals has risen to 85% in October despite efforts to set aside more beds. This is up from the 62% occupancy rate in July. Public healthcare institutions and private healthcare providers have redeployed staff and recruited additional short-term manpower to ramp up capacity The Ministry of Health announced on 7 October that the Health Sciences Authority is close to approving Molnupiravir, an antiviral pill manufactured by MSD Pharma from the US to treat Covid-19 Temasek Foundation, the non-profit philanthropic arm of Singapore state sovereign fund Temasek Holdings, and Brunei's Ministry of Health announced on 7 October that both countries Thailand Cases: 1,751,704 Deaths: 18,029 Population: 70 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 2.1% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 7.50% Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced on 11 October that Thailand will lift its quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated tourists who visit the country by air from 1 November, beginning with 10 countries including China, Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. More countries are to be added to the list by 1 December. Travelers will be required to show a negative Covid-19 test taken prior to boarding and undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing upon arrival Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration is set to decide on 14 October whether to further ease semi-lockdown restrictions after the first round of easing saw decreased infections and mortality rates, although infections are increasing in a handful of areas Vietnam Cases: 849,691 Deaths: 20,869 Population: 98.3 million IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 6.5% Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 6.61% The Ministry of Health said on 9 October that with 91% of Covid-19 patients treated and southern epicenters witnessing drastic reductions in daily new cases and casualties, the fourth Covid-19 outbreak in the country is under control nationwide The Ministry of Health announced modified requirements for Covid-19 patients to be declared recovered, requiring only one negative Covid-19 test result Vietnam has agreed on a set of criteria for the recognition and use of other countries’ vaccine passports in the country. Vietnam accepts vaccine passports licensed by the World Health Organization, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Medicines Agency, as well as those approved by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health for emergency use Vietnam has allowed travel by air, train, and inter-provincial buses between several provinces to resume, including travel between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Passengers are required to be fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19 and tested negative Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on 11 October called on localities across Vietnam to move toward living safely with Covid-19 Ho Chi Minh City has finalized mobility plans for workers with the neighboring provinces of Binh Duong, Long An, Dong Nai, and Tay Ninh, requiring workers to be injected with at least the first dose of vaccine and tested every seven days The southern province of Dong Nai has ended the “3-on-site" scheme for manufacturers and is switching to a scheme requiring frequent Covid-19 testing of workers