NEWS Round-Up April 17-April 20

ASEAN, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, airlines, coronavirus,

(Photo: Institut Pasteur)

COVID-19 IN ASEAN

  • ASEAN continues to see a rise in total coronavirus cases with three countries recording now over 6,000 cases and one country having over 5,000 cases. After enjoying stagnant numbers for a couple of weeks, Singapore is leading again total COVID-19 cases but Indonesia has the highest number of deceased due to the virus. Singapore has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases from a second wave due to the return of Singaporeans from abroad. Relatively relaxed social distancing rules in the City State further helped spreading the virus. On April 19, Singapore had recorded a total of 6,588 cases, shortly ahead of Indonesia with 6,575 cases officially recorded. It is followed by the Philippines (6,529 cases), Malaysia (5,389 cases) and Thailand (2,765 cases). Myanmar experienced a sharp increase over the last week, multiplying the total number of COVID-19 affected people by almost three times, from 41 on April 12 to 107 on April 19. There is now 5 official deaths from the virus.

Lao PDR enjoys a true miracle as it officially announces 19 cases and zero deaths. Total number of people affected grow on average by two to three per week, a rhythm which remains among the lowest in the world despite being surrounded by China and Thailand where COVID-19 has claimed a high number of victims. It is interesting to notice that Timor Leste with six times less population than Lao PDR (1.3 million versus 7 million people) showed the same number of victims than Laos on April 19…

The government’s slow response to implement stricter social distancing rules and quarantine measures, a deficient health system and a strong belief by locals to feel protected by divine intervention is the explosive cocktail behind the strong surge in deads in the country. Indonesia has now the highest number of deceased with a total of 582 on April 19, followed by the Philippines with 409 deceased and Malaysia with 89. Thailand recorded 47 deaths by April 19 while Singapore has only a total of 11 victims.

AIR TRANSPORT

  • AirAsia confirmed that it will start to fly again from April 29. The carrier will start with a limited network of domestic flights according to the following planning. AirAsia Bhd will reopen domestic routes in Malaysia on April 29, followed by the Philippines (AirAsia Philippines) and Thailand( Thai AirAsia) on May 1st and Indonesia (Indonesia AirAsia) on May 7. Additional frequencies will depend of government’s approval. The carrier indicates to look at resuming international flights but it now waits for the relaxing of visa rules for foreign travellers, the official reopening of international borders and the lifting of an international flight ban in many countries.

CAMBODIA

  • Cambodia travel restrictions enforced on passengers from six countries to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic has been extended until further noticed. The order was issued on March 16 and applied to France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain and the USA. In an order issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation dated April 16, all Cambodian missions abroad have been asked to further enforce this order.

PHILIPPINES

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened a martial law-like crackdown to stop people flouting a virus lockdown in the nation’s capital. Duterte spoke a day after authorities reported an upsurge of cars on Manila’s roads, which have been nearly deserted since a sweeping lockdown was imposed a month ago on about half the country’s 110 million people.”I’m just asking for a little discipline. If not, if you do not believe me, then the military and police will take over,” Duterte said in a televised speech last Thursday. “The military and police will enforce social distancing at curfew … It’s like martial law. You choose,” he added.

(Source: AFP)

THAILAND

  • The country is looking only for 16 million international travellers instead of en earlier forecast of over 40 million according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Domestic tourism trips should reach 60 million instead of an earlier estimate of 172 million. In 2019, Thailand saw total foreign arrivals reaching a new record of 39.8 million which generated THB1.93 trillion (US$59.32 billion). The forecast is based on a revival in tourist activities in May, which is still not confirmed. Total arrivals of 16 million would then take Thai tourism back a decade ago. in 2010, the country effectively recorded 15.9 million international arrivals. TAT is preparing a stimulus plan and to implement stringent hygiene and health safety rules to reassure travellers that the Kingdom is safe for visit.
  • The Thai government announced to eventually relax lockdown rules in provinces with no COVID-19 cases. A dozen provinces around the country could enjoy a lifting of the lockdown as soon as May 1st, according to the spokesperson of the government. They are also impatient move by malls operators to reopen on May 1st. The current lockdown for malls go up to April 30…

VIETNAM

  • According to Hanoi’s tourism department, the number of visitors to the capital during the first quarter of this year was down 47% year-on-year to 3.85 million. Nearly 956,000 were foreigners, falling 44% from a year ago. Consequently, the capital city has been negotiating with international news channel CNN for a temporary suspension of tourism promotion and adversiting, according to City Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung. The ban on advertising would then last until September to cut costs. Last year, the capital city signed a US$4-million tourism promotion deal with CNN for the 2019-2024 period. The money will be used to help hospitals and businesses affected by COVID-19.