Covid-19 and Policy Updates in ASEAN: 22 - 29 September 2021
30 September 2021
Covid-19 and Policy Updates in ASEAN: 22 - 29 September 2021

 

OVERVIEW

Malaysia has seen a decrease in its daily Covid-19 cases, but its cumulative Covid-19 death toll surpassed 25,000 fatalities on 25 September. The Philippines’s Metro Manila area has been downgraded from high risk to moderate risk, and some social distancing restrictions will be lifted.  Vietnam’s daily number of patients recovered from Covid-19 is now surpassing the number of new positive cases, allowing the country to prepare to ease nationwide restrictions. Cambodian city Siem Reap has experienced a resurgence in Covid-19 infections, resulting in either full or partial lockdowns in seven out of 12 districts; Phnom Penh meanwhile has extended its suspension of high-risk businesses and ban on gatherings of 15 or more people. Thailand’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration has extended the state of emergency for two months but shortened the curfew period to 9.00 pm to 4.00 am for an additional 15 days. Singapore has reintroduced tighter Covid-19 restrictions following a sharp increase in infections. Indonesia has yet to approve the use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for children under the age of 12, pending results of ongoing clinical trials. Myanmar has purchased an additional four million doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine from China.

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: 110,792
Deaths: 2,287
Population: 16.9 million
IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 4.2%
Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: Data not available 

  • Siem Reap reported on 26 September a resurgence of Covid-19 infections with over 200 daily cases. Seven out of 12 districts in the province have been placed under full or partial lockdown, and the reopening of schools has been delayed
     
  • Phnom Penh extended on 22 September the suspension of high-risk businesses such as entertainment outlets and fitness centers and a ban on gatherings of 15 or more people for another 14 days
     
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen said on 25 September that he has allowed the reopening of public and state universities. Earlier, schools from grades 9-12 were reopened but under strict adherence to health measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19
     
  • The Ministry of Tourism announced on September 25 that Cambodia and India have agreed to cooperate on a plan to boost tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic
     
  • The Foreign Affairs Committees of the National Assemblies of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam at a conference on 23 September called on developed countries to share vaccines and waive patent rights for Covid-19 vaccines
     

Indonesia
Cases: 4,211,460
Deaths: 141,709
Population: 276.9 million
IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 3.9%
Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 7.07%

  • President Jokowi “Joko” Widodo in his 23 September speech at the 76th United Nations General Assembly decried the politicization of Covid-19 vaccines and called for the reorganization of the global health security architecture in order to achieve health equity; he noted that no country is safe until all countries are safe from Covid-19
     
  • The Ministry of Health has assured Umrah pilgrims travelling to Mecca that they would receive a Covid-19 booster shot in line with the requirements imposed by the Saudi government
     
  • Katadata Insight Center, KawalCovid-19, and Change.org announced on 17 September survey findings that showed that 38.3% of respondents did not want to receive Covid vaccinations. The online survey polled 8,299 respondents from 6-22 August
     
  • The government said it will only allow the use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for children under the age of 12 once Phase 2 or 3 clinical trials have been completed, despite Emergency Use Authorization being granted by the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency
     

MALAYSIA
Cases: 2,220,526
Deaths: 25,935
Population: 32.8 million
IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 4.7%
Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 16.1%

  • Malaysia reported on September 27 a sharp drop in new daily Covid-19 cases, recording 10,959 infections compared to 13,104 cases the previous day. The country’s cumulative Covid-19 death toll passed the 25,000 mark on 25 September after 228 new fatalities were registered
     
  • The authorities announced that petrol stations, restaurants, eateries, and convenience stores will be allowed to operate from 6.00 am to 12.00 am nationwide
     
  • Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that all interstate activities will be allowed only when 90% of adults in Malaysia are fully vaccinated against Covid-19; at the current vaccination rate, 90% of Malaysians will only be vaccinated by end October 2021 
     
  • Zoos, farms, aquariums, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing tourism and forest parks will be allowed to operate from 1 October
     
  • The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture said on 21 September that Genting Highlands, Malacca, and Tioman Island will join Malaysia’s travel bubble and reopen to visitors beginning 1 October. Malacca authorities said however the state will only reopen its doors for tourism when interstate travel has been allowed
     
  • National Recovery Council chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said on 24 September that Malaysia and Singapore will recognize each other’s vaccination certificates to allow movement between the two countries
     
  • Malaysia has lifted the stricter conditions imposed since 26 April on nationals from countries in the Indian subcontinent including India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh


Myanmar
Cases: 461,066
Deaths: 17,631
Population: 54.8 million
IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): -8.9%
Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: Data not available

  • Myanmar said it had purchased an additional four million doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines from China. To date, China has supplied a total of 16.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Myanmar, of which 3.9 million doses were donated 
     
  • The Chinese Red Cross Society said it has been distributing aid consisting of vaccines, masks and sanitizers and construction materials for quarantine centers to Myanmar’s ethnic minority groups and rebel groups, such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Shan State Progress Party rebel group, and the Ta’ang National Liberal Army 
     
  • Myanmar’s military regime said on 22 September that it is providing 40,000 doses of Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines to the Arakan Army, the ethnic armed group based in the Rakhine State in western Myanmar. Negotiations with the regime via intermediaries are underway on detailed vaccine roll-out plans. The move comes after the military regime said it would provide vaccinations for all ethnic armed organizations in Myanmar
     

Philippines
Cases: 2,522,965
Deaths: 37,686
Population: 111.3 million
IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 5.4%
Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 11.8%

  • City authorities said on 26 September that Metro Manila may be placed under a less stringent alert level once the current Level 4 alert lapses at the end of the month. The announcement follows the Department of Health’s declaration that Metro Manila is at moderate risk for Covid-19 and has seen a steady decline in Covid-19 transmission rates
     
  • The Philippines has as of 26 September inoculated 23.6 million adults with a first vaccine dose, while 20.3 million adults have received both doses
     
  • Authorities said on 26 September that the vaccination of minors aged 12-17 years old will start once 50% of the adult population has been vaccinated, with the proposed vaccination of 12 million minors expected to start in mid-October beginning with children with comorbidities and children of healthcare workers
     
  • The Department of Health said it has decided not to authorize Covid-19 booster shots for healthcare workers until additional clinical evidence is received, stating that the government would first increase coverage for high-risk groups
     
  • The Department of Education announced that all teachers and school personnel joining the in-person classes scheme must be vaccinated and must be under 65 years of age without any comorbidities, reversing an earlier decision that teachers need not be vaccinated for the scheme. As of 28 September, the Philippines has not fully reopened its schools for in-person classes
     

Singapore
Cases: 91,775
Deaths: 85
Population: 5.9 million
IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 5.2%
Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 14.7%

  • Singapore registered on 22 September 1,457 new cases and 1,504 cases the following day, a record high for two consecutive days amid a surge in infections. The Singapore government announced that it is ramping up plans to be ready to handle 5,000 daily new Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks
     
  • The Ministry of Health said on 23 September that with healthcare and other facility operations coming under more strain with the growing case numbers, home recovery would be the default mode of care management for Covid-19 patients
     
  • Singapore has suspended hospital visits from 24 September-23 October, and ward visitors will only be allowed on a case-by-case basis for certain patients, such as those who are critically ill and women who have just given birth 
     
  • Authorities announced that from 27 September-25 October social gatherings will be restricted to two people and work from home will be the default. Home-based learning will be extended by a day to 7 October for all primary and special education schools, and students will return to school on 11 October after two weeks of home-based learning
     
  • Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong announced on 24 September SGD 650 million in wage subsidies, rental waivers, and other forms of support for businesses such as food and beverage outlets and retailers hit by the new restrictions 
     
  • Minister of Health Ong Ye Kung said on 24 September that Singapore is ramping up plans to extend Covid-19 hospital bed capacity to 1,600 beds, up from the 1,000 previously planned, at the expense of normal services. Community care facilities also will increase capacity to 4,600 beds, up from the current 3,500

 

Thailand
Cases: 1,591,829
Deaths: 16,620
Population: 70 million
IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 2.1%
Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 7.50%

  • Thailand’s National Communicable Diseases Committee has approved the lowering of the quarantine period for travelers from 14 days to seven or 10 days, depending on the countries of departure, mode of transportation, as well as vaccination status
     
  • Thailand’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration has extended the state of emergency extended for two months but has shortened the curfew from 9.00 pm to 4.00 am for an additional 15 days. The changes apply to 29 provinces in dark-red zones, effective 1 October 
     
  • The CCSA has approved the reopening of 10 business establishments, including cinemas, spas, and gyms, from 1 October. However, establishments such as convenience stores and restaurants will be required to close by 9.00 pm 
     
  • Thailand launched a national Covid-19 vaccination campaign with the aim of administering one million vaccine doses per day. Prior to the campaign, Thailand was administering between 600,000 to 800,000 doses per day. The campaign aims to reach the target of 74% of the population to be fully vaccinated by end-2021
     
  • Pattaya, along with three other provinces are on track to reopen quarantine free travel for vaccinated foreign tourist on 1 October, while Bangkok announced a tentative plan to reopen by 1 November, when it expects to have vaccinated at least 70% of the local Bangkok population
     
  • Thailand announced that 78 countries will be joining the “sandbox” travel program, up from the 70 previously stated
     
  • Thailand’s transport ministry has launched a “new-normal” initiative where acrylic partitions will be installed in some 3,000 taxis to assure travelers of heightened safety measures and to encourage tourism


Vietnam
Cases: 770,640
Deaths: 18,936
Population: 98.3 million
IMF 2021 Growth Forecast (Updated July 2021): 6.5%
Q2 2021 year-on-year growth: 6.61%

  • The National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control announced it is shifting the national Covid-19 prevention and control strategy from having no positive cases to living with Covid-19. This comes at a time when the daily death toll has been decreasing, and the daily number of patients recovered from Covid-19 has been surpassing the daily number of new positive cases
     
  • Hanoi has ended its lockdown period, removed the geographical division of zones, and allowed people to circulate freely. Services such as food takeaway, shopping malls, and postal services have resumed, while public gatherings have been limited to under 10 people and workplaces allowed to have 50% of the workforce return to office work
     
  • The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism announced a pilot vaccine passport scheme that will allow the southern island of Phu Quoc to welcome foreign tourists from 9 November