Prayut to attend virtual Asean leaders meet over virus efforts

Prayut to attend virtual Asean leaders meet over virus efforts

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will speak to leaders of the Asean Plus Three countries on Tuesday to jointly launch more powerful measures to protect Asean's 650 million population against Covid-19.

In the scheduled teleconference, authorities from China, South Korea and Japan will also join the 10-nation bloc in talks which is expected to culminate with the announcement of two declarations, said officials close to the meeting preparations.

Thailand earlier suggested Asean set up an "Asean Response Fund" in order to finance the purchase of medicine and medical equipment as well as research a vaccine to deal with the disease, according to a recent meeting of the Asean coordinating committee.

Participants in the recent meeting, which was attended by Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, agreed with the proposal which was pushed ahead by a working group on public health issues.

Gen Prayut reportedly discussed with officials on Friday the agenda for the April 14 meeting, to be chaired by Vietnam which succeeded Thailand as the Asean chair this year.

The Covid-19 agenda was proposed by China which wants Asean to hold a "special session" specifically touching on the pandemic.

The disease has already infected more than 1.6 million people and claimed over 96,000 lives worldwide.

In an attempt to curb infections governments have restricted travel and imposed city lockdowns, which now affect one-third of the world's population.

Yet, the rate of virus transmission shows no sign of abating.

Asean, with a combined GDP of US$2.8 trillion (91.4 trillion baht), has also been badly hit by Covid-19 as the situation in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines remains volatile.

The one-day meeting is aimed at stepping up efforts to stop the pandemic besides the ongoing intensive measures against the virus in each country.

On Tuesday, Gen Prayut will speak to his counterparts in the morning while the afternoon session will be dedicated for talks between Asean and the three East Asian countries.

According to the Asean coordinating committee, the proposed fund is aimed at increasing capacity to contain the spread of the virus.

It also agreed to further work on plans to help Asean people and find ways to relieve the severe economic impact caused by the global epidemic.

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