Health & Life Sciences Update: April 3, 2020

Health & Life Sciences Update | April 3, 2020
Authors: Hai Pham, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, J-Ren Ong, Minh Vu
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • April 24: HLS Committee Quarterly Call
  • Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Indonesia – scheduled for April 21-22 but has been postponed due to COVID-19. New dates to be advised.
  • August: Potential USABC Presentation at the 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development (SOM-HD)
  • 2nd Half of 2020: Joint Antimicrobial Resistance Program in ASEAN (inaugural collaboration between Council’s Food & Agriculture and Health & Life Sciences committees).
  • 2nd Half of 2020: Regional HLS Presidents Luncheon and Potentially Regional HLS Presidents Industry Mission to Thailand.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

COVID-19 in ASEAN Update

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, on March 31, Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Vietnam chaired the first teleconference of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies. The meeting was followed by a teleconference between senior officials of ASEAN and the U.S., attended by Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell, on April 1. Both meetings aimed to promote cooperation within the ASEAN Community and between ASEAN and the U.S. to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic by sharing information about the situation and implementation of measures taken in each country while affirming the commitment to strengthen cooperation. A U.S. State Department  Fact Sheet on US Cooperation efforts is here but the Trump Administration has also instituted a review of all USG foreign assistance shipments of COVID 19 related PPE equipment. 

ASEAN governments continue to implement more measures to contain the outbreak. As Laos and Myanmar reported their first cases, all governments in ASEAN have implemented restrictions on incoming travelers by suspending new visa approvals and expanding travel ban lists while Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam have also implemented policies to limit domestic movement of citizens. On March 24, Indonesian President Jokowi reaffirmed that Indonesia will not apply a national lockdown policy to combat the spread of the virus. In his statement at a Cabinet Meeting, he emphasized that a lockdown procedure would be costly to Indonesia’s economy and would require a very high level of national discipline. On March 30, President Jokowi ordered his Cabinet to more strictly enforce physical distancing, to be complemented with civil emergency policies. Similarly, Myanmar has also encouraged people to practice social distancing and working from home while Laos and Singapore have instructed government employees to work from home.

ASEAN governments and other partners are also drafting different financial packages to bolster public health responses and support low-income households and businesses affected by the virus. On March 18, the Asian Development Bank announced a US$6.5 billion initial response package to the pandemic, of which the Philippine government has already received US$3 million grant. On March 30, the Philippines government released the Customs Administrative Order No.07-2020 that waives tax and duty for imported medical supplies and equipment needed to address the COVID-19 outbreak The order is in keeping with Section 4(o) of the newly signed Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. The section grants President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers for a limited time to address heath crisis and stipulates that importation of critical or needed medical equipment or supplies shall be exempt from import duties, taxes and other fees.

The US-ASEAN Business Council is launching a dedicated COVID-19 Digital Dashboard to help companies track Government actions across Southeast Asia which includes all the latest updates on movement of people, goods and services as well as background on national emergencies declared across ASEAN member nations. The Digital Dashboard will also collate all of the Council’s critical updates and analysis released to-date as a one-stop resource to make it easier for our members and stakeholders to better understand the full picture of what is happening across ASEAN at this time and in the months to come, updated daily.

Malaysia Medical Players Call for Drug Production Plan, Ensures Sufficient Supply During Outbreak

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) President Dr. N. Ganabaskaran and Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) President Amrahi Buan on March 14 called for a government master plan to attract local and multinational pharmaceutical companies to set up manufacturing facilities in Malaysia. In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, medical experts and pharmacists said that encouraging pharmaceutical production, including raw materials, inside Malaysia would be a crucial security measure to prevent a drug shortage crisis during an outbreak like the COVID-19 and to reduce reliance on China. China, the largest producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in drugs, had closed APIs production plants, raising concern of a possible shortage in generic drugs and an increase in price. MMA President Dr. N. Ganabaskaran called for the government to engage local manufacturers and importers to discuss a mitigation plan. MPS President Amrahi Buan also called for the Health Ministry, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, Malaysian Organization of Pharmaceutical Industries, industry experts and universities to cooperate on this effort.

The call for a master plan was followed by an assurance to the public by the Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (Pharma) on March 23 that supply of essential products and services will be continued during the Movement Control Order period. In order to contain the outbreak, the newly formed Perikatan Nasional government on March 16 announced a 14-day Movement Control Order (MCO) in effect from March 18 and later extended by two weeks until April 14. For further details on the MCO, please refer to the Council’s Update here and here on Malaysia's Movement Control Order. Pharma President Chin Keat Chyuan said that Pharma is working with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to minimize disruption to business by allowing factories producing pharmaceutical products, among other essential products, to operate during the MCO period.

Singapore Advances Technology in Healthcare Amidst Pandemic

Amidst the fight against COVID-19, a range of Singaporean stakeholders are collaborating with global partners to advance the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology into health and life sciences. On April 1, Elite Dental Group, a cornerstone partner of Singapore-based healthcare giant Novena Global Lifecare, is first in Singapore to adopt a cutting edge Dental AI Technology called "SmileMate", created by Dental Monitoring, a Dental Technology and AI-based company headquartered in Paris, France. The technology addresses the needs of patients who have dental anxiety and dental professionals alike, for the provision of remote and virtual general dental consultation services to such patients. The technology allows patients to receive a dental consultation with general dental advice given by a dental professional without leaving their homes, as the Singapore Government encourages social distancing to contain the spread of the virus.

The news followed the announcement on March 30 by scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), in collaboration with researchers at the Harvard Medical School and University of Alabama, on the development of a prototype for a handheld medical imaging device that can produce images down to resolutions of 1 to 2 micrometers. This is detailed enough to spot the first signs of tumors in specific cells and is about 100 times higher resolution than what X-Ray, computed tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines can provide. The device utilizes a new imaging technology known as micro “Optical Coherence Tomography” (OCT) that emits a spectrum of light that harmlessly penetrates human tissue and organs to construct cross-section images of what is being scanned. The team at NTU is conducting more in-depth research into OCT technologies to further improve the device and extend industry collaboration with other healthcare companies.

In the fight against COVID-19, the Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and Ministry of Health on March 20 have developed and launched "TraceTogether", an app that can be downloaded by anyone with a Singapore mobile number and Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. The app will allow the users’ phone to record encounters of close proximity with other phones using the app. Records will be stored locally and encrypted on the phone for 21 days, a duration longer than the virus’ period of incubation. Whereas the app will not replace the ongoing contact-tracing efforts, it will expedite the existing contact-tracing process, which relies on human memory and available records. Registration for the app is not mandatory. To protect user privacy, explicit consent of the user is required and can be withdrawn. Instead of using GPS or location data, the app will instead generate a temporary ID that is exchanged between phones of TraceTogether users through Bluetooth technology. It will not establish where a person is but only who came near the person’s device. In a move to support the international community in combatting the pandemic, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan said that the app will be open-sourced. This will allow others globally to redistribute and/or modify the software’s source code.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Philippine Department of Health’s Draft Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Administrative Order, Methods Guide and Process Guide

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) is seeking feedback from stakeholders on the new implementing guidelines on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) to guide funding allocation and coverage decisions in support of Universal Health Care.

The deadline for submission of feedback has been extended from March 30, 2020 to April 8, 2020. The feedback will be used to facilitate the HTA online consultations between the DOH and external stakeholders. The series of HTA consultative meetings were initially scheduled from March 17-27, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the meetings shall be conducted through online posting. The dates for the online consultative meetings to be advised.

The Council invites the members to comment using this input form for the DOH draft documents on HTA:

  1. Draft HTA Administrative Order
  2. Draft HTA Methods Guide
  3. Draft HTA Process Guide

Please submit your input form by COB April 3, 2020 to Thao Nguyen (tnguyen@usasean.org) and copy Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org) and Elizabeth M. Crébassa (“Maxie”) (em.crebassa@usasean.org). The Council will consolidate member feedback and draft a joint industry position paper. The Council will circulate the draft paper among members for final comments by April 6, 2020 before presenting it to the Philippines DOH by April 8, 2020.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
ASEAN, US enhance co-operation in COVID-19 fight
ASEAN discusses response to COVID-19
Launch of “Sustainable Financing Framework” for ASEAN healthcare, an initiative by EU-ASEAN Business Council, KPMG in Singapore and SANOFI

Brunei
Sultanate records 13 COVID-19 cases, total now 104
Singapore sends coronavirus test kits to Brunei
Sultan: Brunei to expand virus testing capacity with new virology lab
COVID-19 cases in Brunei rise to 73
Brunei COVID-19 cases rise to 68
Brunei bars residents from leaving as coronavirus cases reach 50
14 more COVID-19 cases, total now 25
Five more positive to Covid-19 in Brunei, total six
COVID-19: Brunei bars entry for visitors from Iran, Italy

COVID-19
Imports needed for COVID-19 fight declared tax-exempt

Cambodia
Zuellig Pharma acquires Cambodge to strengthen Indochina presence
Sanitisers, masks seized in nationwide crackdown
TOP NEWS: Cambodian Government Imposes Temporary Entry Restrictions into the Kingdom
Prime Minister Hints at Declaring State of Emergency; Criticizes Price Gouging
Approval granted for investment in production of face masks
GMAC appeals to stakeholders to join hands to tackle manufacturing woes caused by Coronavirus
National Bank of Cambodia’s new measures greeted warmly
Virus cases now upped to 12 in Kingdom
Cambodia Bans Entry From Five Countries, Records Two New Virus Cases
Cambodian Government Allocates Up to $2 Billion for Economic Fallout from Coronavirus
Ministry of Health releases statistics at annual congress

Indonesia
Coronavirus: Indonesia develops surveillance app to bolster contact tracing
Indonesia Records 1,285 Cases, 114 Death Toll from COVID-19
Indonesian startups launch a platform to disseminate information related to COVID-19
Indonesian government’s COVID-19 chatbot goes live on WhatsApp
Indonesian Health Apps Join Forces for Covid-19 Home Consultations
Indonesian start-up to make COVID-19 test kits
Dengue fever claims 43 lives in NTT
Indonesia to reallocate $1.8b budget for health care, cash transfers: Sri Mulyani
HIV patients express concern as prescriptions adjusted amid drug shortages in Indonesia
Indonesia's COVID-19 tally exceeds 100 with 21 new confirmed cases
Low premium may mean poorer services in national health insurance
Government allocates $8b to stimulate economy as businesses, workers suffer from COVID-19 impacts
People rush for red ginger supplements as COVID-19 fears grow
Govt Reveals Why Dengue Fever Deaths Remain High in NTT

Laos
Laos To Enter Lockdown Starting March 30
Korean agency grants US$1.8 m to address Attapeu children’s well-being
U.S. Announces Additional US$ 2 Million to Support COVID-19 Response in Lao PDR
Lao PDR: New Financing to Improve Access to Health and Nutrition Services
Japan supports strengthening health facilities in Huaphan
No Covid-19 case but Laos implements tough prevention measures

Malaysia
BRIEF-Medadvisor Gets Confirmation Of 3 Pharma Cos In Malaysia & Philippines For Pilot Program
Insurance and takaful industry announces details on Covid-19 test fund
Covid-19: Malaysia reports six new deaths, toll now at 43
Face mask ceiling price set at RM1.50 per piece effective April 1
Pharmacists seek frontliner incentives, contract extensions
Covid-19: Malaysia sees highest single-day rise with 212 new infections, four more dead
RM500 million additional allocation for Health Ministry
Pharmaceutical association working closely with Miti to minimise disruption to businesses during MCO
Covid-19: 1,306 positive cases in Malaysia, two more dead
Third wave of infection likely
Private hospitals association offer to help public sector in Covid-19 outbreak
125 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in M'sia, bringing total to 553
Medical players call for drug production plan
COVID-19 : Selangor postpones all large-scale events
Malaysia bans public events to curb COVID-19 spread
Azmin: Malaysia, Singapore to enhance cooperation in battling Covid-19 outbreak

Myanmar
Myanmar govt readies facilities for possible quarantine
Doctors register as volunteers to fight Covid-19 in Myanmar
Working Committee holds meeting to address impact of COVID-19 on country’s economy
Myanmar to roll out advance in kidney-matching
YCDC takes steps to make Yangon more livable
Myanmar legislator seeks to regulate e-cigarettes, water pipes
Singapore sends coronavirus test kits to Myanmar

Philippines
RITM says its turnaround time for Covid-19 tests much faster
5 rapid test kits get FDA nod
Duterte: Gov’t to accredit more medical facilities for COVID-19 testing
Senator, Mindanao officials unveil strategies to fight virus, ensure steady food supply
Metro Pacific forms COVID-19 crisis team
ADB approves $5-M emergency grant for PHL fight vs virus | BusinessWorld
Amid rising cases, PHL on right track to slow virus spread–WHO
DOH reports 90 new Covid-19 cases, moves to protect patients with TB
Congress grants Duterte covid standby powers
Duterte to sign emergency bill to fight virus, as cases rise to 462
Study finds weak spots in government’s health-decentralization program
DTI tells food, medicine manufacturers with 1-month inventory to stop production

Singapore
Manulife partners with dacadoo for enhanced customer engagement
Biolidics to launch ten-minute rapid test kits for COVID-19
Coronavirus: Firms which fail to implement telecommuting where possible may face fines, stop-work orders
Singapore announces AI platform for cell therapy and immuno-oncology
Singapore's NGL expands affordable medical healthcare
Singapore designs high resolution medical device
Elite Dental Group first to adopt dental AI technology
Singapore to give eligible self-employed persons S$9,000 each
Singapore adds $48 B more in “Resilience Budget" to fight COVID-19
Why Singapore’s coronavirus response worked – and what we can all learn
Singapore says it will make its contact tracing tech freely available to developers
All entertainment venues in Singapore to close, gatherings outside work and school limited to 10 people
Singapore residents who continue to travel abroad will pay full hospital charges if warded for coronavirus

Thailand
Health certificates required of all visitors
Thai FDA Provides Fast Track Approval for the Manufacturing and Importing of Surgical Masks | Lexology
Mandatory sim and app used to track down movement
PM Prayut observes anti-rabies activity, exhibition on supermarket cooperatives
Excise Department offers tax benefits for alcohol used to make hand sanitizers
32 new COVID-19 cases in Thailand’s biggest one day jump
400 billion baht stimulus announced to boost Thai economy
Better care centres, paternal leave urged
5G smart robots take care of coronavirus patients
NHSO agrees to add COVID-19 to national healthcare
Tourism-driven Thailand softens 'compulsory' self-isolation language
Thailand outlines US$3.2 billion stimulus to alleviate COVID-19 impact

Vietnam
Nine more COVID-19 infections confirmed, eight connected to Bạch Mai Hospital
Việt Nam to announce nationwide pandemic
Việt Nam confirms 123rd COVID-19 patient
Vietnam now in third phase of COVID-19 combat: PM
COVID-19 shows pressing need for quicker digital transformation
Việt Nam suspends foreign entry, starting March 22
Health declaration app NCOVID surpasses Facebook as most downloaded in Vietnam
Symposium introduces new approach in diabetes type 2 management
TB prevention needs joint efforts: meeting
Compulsory health declarations for all in Vietnam
Woman in Hà Nội tests positive for SARS-CoV-2
Ministry of Health launches Centre for COVID 19 Outbreak Control
Medical declaration required for anyone to enter Việt Nam
HCM City banks on digital innovation, transformation in healthcare
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

ASEAN, US enhance co-operation in COVID-19 fight vietnamnews.vn 1st Apr 2020
A teleconference of senior officials of ASEAN and the US was held on Wednesday to promote co-ordination between the two sides in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and public health challenges. The event was co-chaired by Head of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Việt Nam, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng, who is also Chairman of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group (ACCWG), and US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell. Participants shared updated information on the developments of COVID-19, and measures to control the pandemic while confirming their commitment to strengthening co-operation in fighting the disease.

ASEAN discusses response to COVID-19 vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2020
The first teleconference of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies was held on Tuesday under the chair of Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng, head of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Việt Nam. The group was set up following a proposal by Việt Nam, the ASEAN Chair 2020, with a view to promoting cooperation in the ASEAN Community to cope with the complicated developments of COVID-19. Participants shared information about the situation in ASEAN member states as well as the implementation of measures being taken in each country since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Launch of “Sustainable Financing Framework” for ASEAN healthcare, an initiative by EU-ASEAN Business Council, KPMG in Singapore and SANOFI euabc 8th Mar 2020
As part of the “Driving comprehensive healthcare in ASEAN” initiative, EU-ASEAN Business Council, KPMG in Singapore and SANOFI, joined hands to launch the first sub-paper on sustainable financing for healthcare in ASEAN, today. The launch event was graced by eminent speakers and leaders from the Healthcare and Finance industry. With the ASEAN region facing unprecedented pressure on the financing of its healthcare systems, expenditures are poised to rise further due to population ageing, the advent of both communicable and non-communicable diseases, and the commitment to achieve UHC by 2030. This sub-paper advocates the principles discussed in the position paper published in 2019 by the Healthcare committee members of the EU-ASEAN Business Council and brings a timely focus on creating a sustainable financing framework for the ASEAN healthcare fraternity.

Brunei

Sultanate records 13 COVID-19 cases, total now 104 Borneo Bulletin 25th Mar 2020
Brunei Darussalam recorded 13 new cases of COVID-19 on March 23, bringing the total of confirmed cases in the Sultanate to 104. Eight of the new cases are linked to Case 91 from a family group that went on a vacation to Surabaya, Indonesia, and returned to Brunei Darussalam on March 20, aboard Flight BI796.

Singapore sends coronavirus test kits to Brunei The Straits Times 25th Mar 2020
The Republic has sent medical supplies to Brunei that will allow doctors there to detect and help contain the coronavirus outbreak. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Wednesday (March 25) that the Government has contributed diagnostic kits that can perform 3,000 tests and a polymerase chain reaction machine to test for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. MFA said that the offer was made in a phone call between Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Brunei Health Minister Haji Mohammad Isham Haji Jaafar. The supplies were handed over by High Commissioner of Singapore to Brunei, Mr Lim Hong Huai, to Datuk Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham at the Brunei Ministry of Health on the morning of March 25. Singapore previously sent medical supplies to the Philippines on Tuesday (March 24), to Myanmar on March 4, and to China on Feb 19 and Feb 8.

Sultan: Brunei to expand virus testing capacity with new virology lab The Star Online 22nd Mar 2020
Brunei will increase its Covid-19 testing capacity by 10 fold with a new virology lab under construction, the country's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said on March 22. In his special speech on the Covid-19 pandemic broadcasted nationwide, the Sultan called on the people in Brunei to deal with this pandemic collectively as a nation, asking his people to apply personal hygiene such as masks and hand sanitizer and prepare for a long-term fight. The Sultan said that the Ministry of Health is trying to increase the capacity of medical staff. And to increase testing capacity, a new virology laboratory is being built with the hope to increase the country's testing capacity by 10 fold to meet the testing need. Brunei's Ministry of Health reported five new cases of the Covid-19 on Saturday, bringing the country's total to 83 cases. As of Saturday, a total of 1,633 people have been ordered to undergo quarantine and 2,699 laboratory tests for the virus have been conducted. The Sultan also asked people in Brunei not to do panic buying, saying the government has verified that national supplies such as rice and sugar are more than enough. He warned all retailers not to take the opportunity for price hiking as this is punishable by law.

COVID-19 cases in Brunei rise to 73 Borneo Bulletin 20th Mar 2020
On March 19, Brunei Darussalam recorded five new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 73 individuals tested positive for the disease. Meanwhile, some 99 individuals have completed their quarantine either at the Sports Village Quarantine Centre or at home. All are reported to be in good health condition. The updates were presented by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at a press conference yesterday. Since the Ministry of Health (MoH) issued a statement regarding the Tabligh gathering in Brunei Darussalam, 56 members with no recent travel history have come forward for testing. The MoH is currently actively carrying out contact tracing. So far, some 1,486 individuals have been instructed to quarantine themselves in accordance with Chapter 204 of the Infectious Diseases Act and 2,339 laboratory tests for COVID-19 have been conducted. The minister said all travellers arriving in the country, starting today (March 20), will be required to undergo 14-day self-isolation at the Identified Monitoring Centre. The MoH is collaborating this self-isolation measure with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications and the Royal Brunei Police Force. The minister said His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented to the amendment of Chapter 204 of the Infectious Diseases Act 2020, which came in force on January 30. Under the amendment, anyone who violates any of the instructions issued by the Ministry of Health, such as taking part in mass gathering or breaking the quarantine order, may face a fine of up to BND10,000 or six-month imprisonment or both.

Brunei COVID-19 cases rise to 68 Borneo Bulletin 19th Mar 2020
Brunei Darussalam recorded 12 new cases of the COVID-19 virus, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 68 on March 18. Five of the new confirmed cases are from a family of six. All cases are in the National Isolation Centre where two people are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a critical condition and in need of respiratory assistance. Two individuals are in need of close monitoring and the remaining are in a stable condition. Meanwhile, 48 individuals completed quarantine at the Sports Village Quarantine Centre and their homes. The update was revealed by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at the daily press briefing at the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Al-‘Afiah Hall. To further disseminate information or advice, MTIC is joining hands with telecommunication companies to send push SMS to all mobile telephone users from March 18. The MoH reminded those in quarantine or self-isolation to comply with the instructions given. They are not allowed to leave their houses or places of quarantine or during the duration stated. According to the Infectious Diseases Act, the failure to comply with the instructions can be result in a fine of up to BND10,000 or six months of imprisonment or both.

Brunei bars residents from leaving as coronavirus cases reach 50 The Straits Times 15th Mar 2020
Brunei said on Sunday (March 15) that its citizens and foreign residents in the country are barred from leaving due to the coronavirus outbreak. The health ministry also said it had confirmed 10 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total tally to 50.

14 more COVID-19 cases, total now 25 Borneo Bulletin 13th Mar 2020
Brunei Darussalam recorded the biggest jump of the number of COVID-19 cases in a single day after 14 individuals were tested positive, bringing the total to 25 cases in the country. The announcement of the new cases was made on March 12 by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at a press conference at the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Al-’Afiah Hall. Of the new 14 cases, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “Thirteen individuals who tested positive are related to the group that travelled to the Tabligh (religious gathering) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.” Touching on the Infectious Diseases Act, he revealed Amendments on Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204) and its regulation has been gazetted which are Infectious Diseases (Amendment of Schedule) Notification, 2020, and Infectious Diseases (Quarantine) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020. According to the Act, anyone who is suspected to be, a case, carrier or contact of infectious diseases are required to carry out medical examinations or medical treatment in hospital or any places determined by the Director General of MoH. Failure to comply is an offence under the Act and the concerned person can be ordered to be transferred to a hospital or another place where he may be detained and, if necessary, isolated until examination or treatment is completed.

Five more positive to Covid-19 in Brunei, total six Daily Express 10th Mar 2020
Five more people were found Covid-19 positive in Brunei, bringing the total number of cases in the sultanate to six, it was announced on March 10. The Brunei Minister of Health said five close contacts of the neighboring nation's first Covid-19 patient tested positive to the disease, the Borneo Bulletin newspaper said on its Twitter account. In light of this, the Brunei Ministry of Education announced Tuesday that the first term school break scheduled for March 16 will be moved earlier to March 11, said the Brunei paper. The first case, a 53-year-old Brunei man, tested positive for the virus on Monday after returning to the sultanate on March 3 from Kuala Lumpur with three friends.

COVID-19: Brunei bars entry for visitors from Iran, Italy Borneo Bulletin 6th Mar 2020
On March 5, the Brunei Ministry of Heath (MoH) announced that travelers, including transit passengers, who have been to Iran and Italy within 14 days before arriving in Brunei Darussalam will not be allowed to enter the country. The restriction is similar to visitors arriving from the Chinese provinces of Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang with exception to citizens and residents of Brunei. The MoH revealed that as of March 4, all regions in the world affected by COVID-19 virus were placed in four categories.

COVID-19

Imports needed for COVID-19 fight declared tax-exempt Business World 1st Apr 2020
IMPORTED GOODS, supplies and equipment, including test kits and protective equipment needed for containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, as well as imported materials needed to manufacture these products have been declared exempt from all taxes, duties and fees, the Bureau of Customs said. In Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 07-2020 released Wednesday, the BoC said such imports are exempt from value-added tax (VAT), excise tax and other fees. The exemption was also outlined in Revenue Regulations (RR) No. 6-2020, which was also issued Wednesday.

Cambodia

Zuellig Pharma acquires Cambodge to strengthen Indochina presence BioSpectrumAsia 16th Mar 2020
Zuellig Pharma, a leading healthcare services provider in Asia, has announced that it has acquired a controlling stake in Alliance Pharma (Cambodge), a leading healthcare distributor of Cambodia. Alliance Pharma (Cambodge) has been providing international healthcare companies with a full range of services designed to facilitate access to the Cambodian market since 2001. Over the years, Alliance Pharma (Cambodge) has developed a full-scale WHO-GSDP certified distribution infrastructure for vaccines, cold-chain products as well as pharmaceutical products, operated by approximately 400 experts in distribution and sales & marketing. "We are excited to grow our presence in Cambodia. This acquisition will give Zuellig Pharma a market leading position in Cambodia, strengthen our presence in Indochina and offer a great platform for accelerated growth in Cambodia and in the region for Zuellig Pharma and its clients," said Yves Hermes, Area Director for South East Asia for Zuellig Pharma.

Sanitisers, masks seized in nationwide crackdown Phnom Penh Post 30th Mar 2020
The Ministry of Commerce’s General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention last week launched a campaign to check alcohol quality and mask selling prices at pharmacies in Phnom Penh and some provinces. It seized over 1,500 litres of counterfeit alcohol and advised the owners to stop selling the fake alcohol and counterfeit masks. The department’s director-general Phan Oun told The Post on Sunday that following the instructions of the Minister of Commerce’s instructions, the department had assigned officers to collaborate with its provincial officers to conduct the crackdown.

TOP NEWS: Cambodian Government Imposes Temporary Entry Restrictions into the Kingdom FRESH NEWS 28th Mar 2020
Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a press release on Saturday regarding travel restrictions issued by the Royal Government of Cambodia in relation to the Covid-19. “In order to reduce and contain the transmission of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and in line with the measures taken by ASEAN countries, the Royal Government of Cambodia has decided to impose, in addition to the recent travel measures of the Ministry of Health of Cambodia, the following temporary entry restrictions into the Kingdom of Cambodia, effective from midnight of 30 March 2020”, the ministry wrote.

Prime Minister Hints at Declaring State of Emergency; Criticizes Price Gouging VOA 26th Mar 2020
Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday he was considering the possibility of declaring a state of emergency, though he said it in the middle of an irate speech criticizing price gouging. Speaking to volunteer doctors and healthcare professionals in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said the pharmacists still have time to decrease the price of face masks, adding they could lose their business license and that all masks would be confiscated from their shops.

Approval granted for investment in production of face masks Khmer Times 25th Mar 2020
The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has granted approval to HK Burltex Manufacturing Co., Ltd. to build a factory for producing face masks and all kinds of bags, according to the CDC’s statement released Tuesday. With an investment capital of US$3.1 million, the newly approved project will create 915 jobs for local people, it pointed out. The new factory will be located in Vattanac Industrial Park in Sangkat Kraing Pongro, Khan Dangkor, Phnom Penh. Phal Sophanith/AKP

GMAC appeals to stakeholders to join hands to tackle manufacturing woes caused by Coronavirus Khmer Times 25th Mar 2020
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has called for collaboration from all stakeholders in facing the critical situation caused by Covid-19 pandemic. “The current global pandemic Covid-19 has brought chaos to all our lives and businesses. To overcome this critical situation, GMAC would like to appeal to all stakeholders to join hands so that we can all survive together”

National Bank of Cambodia’s new measures greeted warmly Khmer Times 18th Mar 2020
The Cambodian Central Bank on Tuesday announced several new measures to facilitate and urge financial institutions to have stronger liquidity. The move aims to reduce the base cost of capital for each financial institution, enabling it to have enough liquidity to help it to decide whether to accept delayed payments from the customers. The NBC will delay the implementation of the Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB) until next year, reduce the interest rate on the Liquidity-Providing Collateralised Operation (LPCO) up to 0.5 percent and decrease the interest rate for the Negotiable Certificate of Deposits (NCD). In addition to this, the NBC also reduced the interest rate of the reserve requirement to 7 percent for both local and foreign currencies for six months starting from April 2020. Before the interest rate on reserve requirement was 8 percent for riel and 12.5 percent for foreign currencies. It will reduce the liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) to an appropriate level if it is necessary.

Virus cases now upped to 12 in Kingdom The Phnom Penh Post 15th Mar 2020
Health Ministry Authority cleans Canadian International School on Koh Pech. MOEYS Cambodian health authorities went on a race against time to trace passengers on a flight from Singapore to Phnom Penh after Frenchman Michelle Dizon Cruz, 35, was confirmed with Covid-19. While his wife is thus far clear of the disease, his four-month-old baby who flew with him has been tested positive and is receiving treatment at the National Pediatric Hospital, the Ministry of Health said in a press release on Sunday night. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport on Friday banned all cruise ships and riverboats from entering the country. The next day, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport decided to close all schools in the capital and Siem Reap town until further notice.

Cambodia Bans Entry From Five Countries, Records Two New Virus Cases VOA 14th Mar 2020
Cambodia has banned entry of foreigners from Italy, Germany, Spain, France and United States for 30 days effective March 17th, as Phnom Penh recorded two more cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday. A Ministry of Health statement released Saturday morning banned the entry of foreigners from the five countries, the first time Cambodia has introduced entry restrictions since the viral outbreak. However, officials have not enforced similar restrictions for other countries with high number of cases, such as Iran, South Korea, Japan or China.

Cambodian Government Allocates Up to $2 Billion for Economic Fallout from Coronavirus VOA 10th Mar 2020
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said the government had allocated between $800 million to $2 billion to address the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which had affected upwards of 80 countries and infected more than 100,000 people. Hun Sen said the lower end of the allocation would help deal with economic slowdown over the next six months, with the $2 billion expected to be needed if the outbreak lasted more than one year.

Ministry of Health releases statistics at annual congress The Phnom Penh Post 5th Mar 2020
The Ministry of Health held its 41st annual congress to promote public health on Tuesday, attended by more than 500 officials from the ministry, local authorities and 25 provincial and municipal health departments. The two-day event from March 3-4 was held to exchange ideas among health officials about experiences, challenges and improvements in the healthcare sector to improve and promote public health. The ministry reported the results of a number of initiatives, including transmitted disease service delivery and the smoke-free ban.

Indonesia

Coronavirus: Indonesia develops surveillance app to bolster contact tracing The Straits Times 30th Mar 2020
Indonesia's Communications and Information Ministry, in collaboration with the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ministry, has developed a mobile app that enables users to compile data related to the spread of coronavirus in their communities and help bolster the government's efforts to trace and track confirmed cases, as well as suspected patients across the country. The homegrown app, dubbed PeduliLindungi for the time being, cross references the data stored on its users' mobile devices through Bluetooth connection.

Indonesia Records 1,285 Cases, 114 Death Toll from COVID-19 Tempo 29th Mar 2020
The number of COVID-19 positive cases in Indonesia has continued to increase and reached 1,285 as of Sunday, with 64 patients recovered and 114 died of the disease, the government spokesman for COVID019 handling Achmad Yurianto said. "There are 130 new cases, bringing the total case count to 1,285. The increased number of confirmed cases illustrates transmission has continued among the public," Yurianto said here on Sunday.

Indonesian startups launch a platform to disseminate information related to COVID-19 KrASIA 28th Mar 2020
Indonesian “smart city provider” startup Qlue has teamed up with conversational artificial intelligence (AI) startup Kata.ai, chat software provider Qiscus, and  information technology company Volantis to launch Indonesia Bergerak, an interactive site that visualizes public reports and information related to COVID-19. All of this is integrated with other data, such as the number of confirmed cases in each area and the availability of referral hospitals that are near a user. Other than submit numbers and status updates, users can also report crowds that have gathered in public spaces.

Indonesian government’s COVID-19 chatbot goes live on WhatsApp KrASIA 28th Mar 2020
With no apparent end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian government has released a chatbot feature on WhatsApp to provide citizens with basic information about the disease. In a public statement, communication and information technology minister Johnny G. Plate said his ministry has been collaborating with WhatsApp and Telkom Group to build the tool and release it with the account name COVID19.GO.ID, matching the URL of the government’s information portal about COVID-19.

Indonesian Health Apps Join Forces for Covid-19 Home Consultations Jakarta Globe 27th Mar 2020
Online health applications have joined government’s coordinated measures to deal with Covid-19 epidemic by providing free home consultations to those in need. Doctors involved in the online services will advise users how to prevent them from contracting the virus, analyze if they develop symptoms and alert the government task force if they need further treatment at the hospital. The services will be integrated with the government’s Covid-19 Task Force, according to Arya Sinulingga, a senior official with the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry.

Indonesian start-up to make COVID-19 test kits The Jakarta Post 26th Mar 2020
An Indonesia-based start-up, Nusantics, is reportedly preparing to make 100,000 COVID-19 test kits. A prototype will be complete within two weeks, an investor says. Willson Cuaca, co-founder and managing partner at East Venture, said Nusantics had been appointed by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) to make the test kits based on samples from Indonesian nationals.

Dengue fever claims 43 lives in NTT Antara News 18th Mar 2020
"As of Tuesday (March 17), the latest fatality from dengue fever was reported in Kupang City. As of Wednesday, the death toll has reached 43," Secretary of the East Nusa Tenggara Health Office David Mandala noted here on Wednesday. Mandala remarked that the number of dengue fever cases had continued to rise, with the total number of cases having reached 3,731. "The highest number of cases were reported in Sikka District reaching 1,396 and 14 deaths," he noted.

Indonesia to reallocate $1.8b budget for health care, cash transfers: Sri Mulyani The Jakarta Post 18th Mar 2020
The government announced on Wednesday it is finalizing a third stimulus package as it reallocated Rp 27 trillion (US$1.8 billion) to fund the healthcare system. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government would reallocate up to Rp 10 trillion from the portion of the state budget that was set for ministries and institutions, as well as Rp 17.2 trillion in funds earmarked for regional administrations. “These resources will be useful for them in handling COVID-19-related issues immediately as part of our broader plan to mitigate the effects of COVID-19,” Sri Mulyani told reporters.

HIV patients express concern as prescriptions adjusted amid drug shortages in Indonesia The Jakarta Post 16th Mar 2020
At the beginning of every month, Uka, 43, visits Bungsu Hospital in Bandung, West Java. After testing positive for HIV in 2016, he has taken antiretroviral (ARV) drugs provided by the government. But when he visited a doctor in early March to receive his monthly supply, he found that his prescription had been reduced. “I only received six tenofovir pills. They said stocks were limited,” he said on Monday, although he still received his normal supply of duviral. HIV patients in Indonesia have decried the shortages of ARV drugs, which are provided for free by the Health Ministry. The ministry procures the drugs through importers PT Kimia Farma and PT Indofarma.

Indonesia's COVID-19 tally exceeds 100 with 21 new confirmed cases The Jakarta Post 15th Mar 2020
Indonesia announced 21 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday afternoon, bringing the total of recorded people infected with the new disease to 117. “Today, we received reports of 21 new cases, 19 of which are in Jakarta and two in Central Java,” Health Ministry Disease Control and Prevention Director General Achmad Yurianto said on Sunday, as quoted by kontan.co.id. He declined to elaborate on the cases, saying only that they were linked to previous cases reported in the capital. Yurianto said the ministry would relay the findings to the hospitals in which the patients are being treated.

Low premium may mean poorer services in national health insurance The Jakarta Post 14th Mar 2020
Clients of the national health insurance may rejoice at the Supreme Court’s ruling annulling a sharp increase in the premiums they had to pay, but hospitals say the decision could hurt their already dire financial situation by leaving many bills unpaid. No one would say it outright, but health services at these hospitals would inevitably be affected unless the government comes up with a quick answer on how to plug the huge deficit besetting the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan). In January, the company owed hospitals Rp 14 trillion (US$959 million). The court last week granted victory to a group of petitioners who had challenged Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 75/2019 that almost doubled premiums across all service tiers.

Government allocates $8b to stimulate economy as businesses, workers suffer from COVID-19 impacts The Jakarta Post 13th Mar 2020
The government announced on Friday that it would allocate Rp 120 trillion (US$8.1 billion) from the state budget to stimulate the economy by providing tax incentives and subsidies for workers, businesses and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The government's second stimulus package, worth Rp 22.9 trillion, includes individual and corporate tax breaks as well as the relaxation of loan disbursement and restructuring requirements. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said manufacturing workers with incomes below Rp 200 million per year would be exempted from paying income taxes for six months. The government has also cut the corporate income tax rate by 30 percent for six months and deferred import tax payments for six months for 19 manufacturing industries. It will also speed up repayments of overpaid tax without initial audits.

People rush for red ginger supplements as COVID-19 fears grow The Jakarta Post 12th Mar 2020
Demand for red ginger supplements has increased sharply lately, amid growing fears about the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country, as people believe the plant can boost the immune system, a senior executive of a pharmaceutical company has said. Publicly listed Kalbe Farma has increased production of the herbal supplement made from red ginger extract by about 50 percent to meet the increase in demand for such supplements, the company’s president director Vidjongtius said. Indonesia’s pharmaceutical industry still greatly relies on imported raw materials. According to the national pharmaceutical industry‘s estimate, about 95 percent of its raw materials are imported, with a total value of US$2.5 billion a year. About 60 percent of the imported raw materials are shipped from China.

Govt Reveals Why Dengue Fever Deaths Remain High in NTT Tempo 12th Mar 2020
Health Ministry’s director of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said there are a number of factors causing the high death toll due to dengue fever in Sikka Regency, East Nusa Tenggara. As the most-affected area, Siti explained that Sikka is geographically located far from Maumere City where the only officially appointed hospital is located is roughly two-hours away. “The [timing] accuracy in determining when to refer a patient is the key,” said Nadia at the Health Ministry’s headquarters on Wednesday. Apart from the timing factor, the preparation of the medical staff in providing services is also important as a sudden spike in dengue fever patients can potentially happen. However, the third factor is the most determining of all, which is the local’s reluctance to be referred to the hospital in Maumere.

Dengue fever kills 104, infects more than 17,000 nationwide since January The Jakarta Post 12th Mar 2020
The Indonesian Health Ministry has recorded a total of 17,820 cases of dengue fever since January this year, with at least 104 cases that turned fatal nationwide. In East Java, which has recorded at least 1,761 cases of dengue fever to date, as many as 15 people have died, with nine fatalities recorded in February and six in January, said the provincial health agency head, Herlin Herliana. "The fatality rate [in East Java] so far is 0.85 percent of total cases," Herlin told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. Most of the fatalities were recorded in Trenggalek, with three. Banyuwangi and Jember regencies each recorded two deaths, while the remaining occurred in eight other cities or regencies in the province.

Death toll in latest rabies outbreak in West Nusa Tenggara rises to 15 The Jakarta Post 11th Mar 2020
Rabies has killed at least 15 people in West Nusa Tenggara’s Dompu regency to date with more than 2,000 dog bites reported since the outbreak of the animal-transmitted disease began in the province last year. A 46-year-old resident of Riwo village in the regency’s Woja district became the latest fatality after she died while receiving treatment at Dompu General Hospital on March 5.

Minister supports plan to substitute imported pharmaceutical products Antara News 11th Mar 2020
Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita has encouraged efforts to substitute imported pharmaceutical products with local raw materials to curtail imports, boost foreign exchange revenue, and maintain economic growth. "The pharmaceutical industry is a strategic industry that will impact public needs. Moreover, with the current coronavirus outbreak that will necessitate improvement in public health, the demand for medicines has increased," Kartasasmita stated during a visit to the Research Center of Indonesian Modern Medicines in Dexa Laboratories of Biomolecular Sciences here on Wednesday. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the industries that has borne the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, as 60 percent of the industry’s raw materials were imported from China. The minister noted that the pharmaceutical industry is a non-oil and gas industry targeted in the development of the nation’s industrial growth.

Lengthy AGO investigation blamed for ARV shortage The Jakarta Post 11th Mar 2020
A shortage of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in dozens of cities and regencies across the country has raised public concerns, prompting a civil society group to demand that the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) speed up its investigation into alleged corruption in the government’s procurement of the drug. Indonesia AIDS Coalition (IAC) director Aditya Wardhana criticized the AGO, saying it had not done enough to settle the case after more than a year of investigating. “The attorney general [office] must be firmer. It should find out whether corruption was found in this case,” Aditya told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Joy as Indonesian court nixes health insurance premium hike, but deficit storm looms The Jakarta Post 10th Mar 2020
The government has no choice but to annul the recent increase of National Health Insurance (JKN) premiums after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of hundreds of millions of citizens who depend on the public health insurance. The court granted victory to a group of petitioners that had challenged Presidential Regulation No. 75/2019, which mandated higher premiums for all service levels beginning this year. The regulation had sparked debate and compelled thousands of people to downgrade their service class or even opt out of the public health insurance altogether.

Laos

Laos To Enter Lockdown Starting March 30 Laotian Times 29th Mar 2020
Government Spokesperson and Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Chalern Yapaoher headed a press conference just moments ago, in which he outlined the details of the Prime Minister’s Order regarding the country’s new and upgraded COVID-19 regulations.

Korean agency grants US$1.8 m to address Attapeu children’s well-being Vientiane Times 19th Mar 2020
The Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has granted US$1.8 million to UNICEF to improve children’s psychosocial well-being and protection in Attapeu province. The cooperation agreement of the two sides was signed recently, attended by Resident Representative of KOICA, Mr Sungsoo Oh, and UNICEF Representative, Octavian Bivol and related sectors. The agreement covers cooperation from 2020-2023 with the programme aiming to improve child protection services for 3,000 children and 10,000 community members over the next four years.

U.S. Announces Additional US$ 2 Million to Support COVID-19 Response in Lao PDR Lao News Agency 16th Mar 2020
U.S. Ambassador Peter M. Haymond announced additional funding of nearly US$ 2 million from the United States in support of the Lao PDR in response to the global spread of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. Ambassador Haymond made the announcement as part of his opening remarks for a U.S.-sponsored tabletop exercise to help Lao officials and public health workers prepare for next steps in responding to the worldwide pandemic. Dr. Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, Director General of Department of Communicable Diseases Control (DCDC), representatives of twelve Lao ministries, as well as leaders of United Nations organizations in Laos, joined the tabletop exercise on Mar 13, sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC) and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), in close partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lao PDR: New Financing to Improve Access to Health and Nutrition Services Lao News Agency 16th Mar 2020
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved US$23 million for the Lao PDR under the Health and Nutrition Services Access Project (HANSA) on March 12 in Washington, USA. The project aims to strengthen the country’s health system and improve the quality and coverage of service by providing funds to health centers and departments, with support benchmarked against performance. The project enhances the sustainability of public health programmes, including maternal and child health, immunization, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV prevention, with a special focus on reducing malnutrition in the north of the country.

Japan supports strengthening health facilities in Huaphan Lao News Agency 10th Mar 2020
The government of Japan has provided grant assistance worth USD 409,658 to strengthen health centres and district hospitals and improve basic medical services in Huaphan province. The grant contract was signed at the Embassy of Japan in Vientiane on 5 March 2020 between Mr. Takewaka Keizo, Ambassador of Japan to the Lao PDR, and Ms. Ogawa, Project Manager of Medecins du Monde Japon (MdM), a Japanese non-profit organisation that manages the project. The grant will support the activities of the one-year project which aims to strengthen a mechanism to maintain and improve basic health care at primary health facilities in Huaphan.

No Covid-19 case but Laos implements tough prevention measures The Star Online 4th Mar 2020
Health authorities have told state departments to consider suspending or postponing overseas working trips by their civil servants to countries where the Covid-19 has been reported, as the virus spreads further afield. Although there is still no confirmed case of the virus in Laos, the health authorities are taking no chances, and have impose several strict prevention measures.

Malaysia

BRIEF-Medadvisor Gets Confirmation Of 3 Pharma Cos In Malaysia & Philippines For Pilot Program Reuters 5th Mar 2020
Medadvisor Ltd: * GETS CONFIRMATION OF 3 PHARMA COS IN MALAYSIA & PHILIPPINES AGREEING TO PILOT DIGITAL ADHERENCE PROGRAMS VIA JV WITH ZUELLIG PHARMA

Insurance and takaful industry announces details on Covid-19 test fund Malay Mail 1st Apr 2020
The Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM), Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) and Malaysian Takaful Association (MTA) have finalised the details of the Covid-19 Test Fund (CTF) for the benefit of medical insurance policyholders and takaful certificate holders. In a joint statement today, LIAM, PIAM and MTA said the RM8 million CTF has been pledged by the insurance and takaful industry in support of the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) efforts to conduct more Covid-19 tests for Malaysians. LIAM is leading the initiative with a RM5 million contribution, while PIAM and MTA have pledged RM2 million and RM1 million respectively, it said.

Covid-19: Malaysia reports six new deaths, toll now at 43 NST Online 31st Mar 2020
The Health Ministry on March 31 reported six new Covid-19 fatalities. Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the death toll in Malaysia now stands at 43, or 1.55 per cent of the total number of cases. Dr Noor Hisham also announced 140 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the tally of infections to 2,766. “Of the cases still undergoing treatment in hospital, 94 are in the intensive care unit, with 60 of them requiring breathing assistance,” he told a press conference. He added that 58 more patients had recovered and were discharged from hospitals that day. To date, 537 cases or 19.4 per cent from the total have recovered. Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham noted a trend of new cases continuing to be reported, after the first two weeks of the Movement Control Order (MCO). “We have seen that the total of daily cases has increased and sometimes plateaued, while the number of discharged patients increase day after day. This data shows the efficacy of the activities done by the Health Ministry and other agencies in the past month,” he said. He reminded the public that the next two weeks are crucial, and will determine if the actions taken by the government would bring the desired outcome.

Face mask ceiling price set at RM1.50 per piece effective April 1 The Malaysian Reserve 30th Mar 2020
The new ceiling price for ace masks has been fixed at RM1.50 per piece effective April 1, the government announced on March 30. Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the new price is lower than the RM2 per unit set previously. Meanwhile, when asked whether the government would set a ceiling price for hand sanitizer, Ismail Sabri said the matter would be discussed with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP), if necessary. He said the situation is different in the case of hand sanitizer as the item bears different brands.

Pharmacists seek frontliner incentives, contract extensions Malay Mail 29th Mar 2020
The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) is asking Putrajaya to extend to its members the RM600 monthly allowance for frontline medical workers announced in the Covid-19 stimulus package. In a statement today, MPS president Amrahi Buang said pharmacists were also frontline medical personnel who play a crucial role in combating the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) via the management of drugs.

Covid-19: Malaysia sees highest single-day rise with 212 new infections, four more dead The Edge Markets 23rd Mar 2020
The Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that there are 212 new confirmed cases as of noon on March 23 — the highest single-day increase — bringing the tally to 1,518 cases in Malaysia. The total number of infections in the country has nearly tripled in a week from 553 cases last Monday, making Malaysia the 19th country in terms of the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, based on the official data from each country. Malaysia is the Asean country with the most confirmed infection cases currently. MoH announced four more people have died from Covid-19, bringing the total death toll to 14. Meanwhile, 20 patients have been discharged after recovering, bringing the total number of cured cases to 159. In a statement, health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said of the 212 new cases, 123 cases are linked to the Masjid Jamek Seri Petaling mosque gathering cluster based on the outcome of the initial investigations. To date, 57 patients who tested positive for Covid-19 are being treated in intensive care units (ICU), with 27 needing ventilation machines, he said. Selangor remains the highest with 354 cases, followed by Kuala Lumpur (242), Sabah (169) and Johor (158). Noor Hisham revealed that the MoH has acquired 33 million units of personal protective equipment, plus a further three million units donated by various parties, which will be distributed to various health facilities by this week. Bernama reported that the National Security Council will be meeting before the end of the movement control order on March 31 to decide if the order should be extended beyond the initial 14 days. Meanwhile, a more comprehensive economic stimulus package will be announced on March 30.

RM500 million additional allocation for Health Ministry NST Online 23rd Mar 2020
The Federal Government has agreed to provide RM500 million in additional allocation to the Health Ministry in its efforts to prevent Covid-19 from further escalating in the country. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the additional allocation would enable the ministry to procure additional equipment such as ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as equipment and facilities needed for intensive care unit (ICU) and Covid-19 screening laboratories. He also announced that the government has set aside RM100 million for the Health Ministry to make 2,000 new appointments especially nurses on contractual basis in the fight against Covid-19.

Pharmaceutical association working closely with Miti to minimise disruption to businesses during MCO The Star Online 23rd Mar 2020
PETALING JAYA: The Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (Phama) has assured the public of continued supply of essential products and services during the movement control order (MCO) period, says its president Chin Keat Chyuan.

Covid-19: 1,306 positive cases in Malaysia, two more dead The Edge Markets 22nd Mar 2020
Two new deaths have been reported to the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC), bringing the death toll to 10, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH). The MoH also announced that there were 123 new confirmed cases as of noon on March 22. The total of infections in Malaysia climbed to 1,306 cases so far ⁠— among the top 20 nations in terms of number of confirmed Covid-19 cases. Meanwhile, 25 more patients have made a full recovery and will be discharged on March 22, Dr Noor Hisham said, pushing the recovery tally to 139. Of the new cases reported, 74 involved participants of the tabligh assembly at Masjid Jamek Seri Petaling, while the remaining 49 cases are related to other clusters; however these cases are still under investigation, said the ministry's director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a statement this evening. As of March 22, the infections related to the tabligh assembly in Seri Petaling mosque rose to 820, more than half of the total number of confirmed cases. Selangor remains the state with the highest recorded cases at 309, followed by Kuala Lumpur (183), Sabah (158) and Johor (145), he said. To date, 46 of the confirmed cases are being treated in intensive care, with 22 of them are on ventilator support.

Third wave of infection likely The Star Online 19th Mar 2020
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have to take the Movement Control Order (MCO) seriously, or else the country risks seeing a third wave of Covid-19.Health director-general Datuk Seri Noor Hisham Abdullah said if that happens, it would be an overwhelming wave with possibly many victims.

Private hospitals association offer to help public sector in Covid-19 outbreak The Star Online 16th Mar 2020
The Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) says private hospitals are ready to assist the Health Ministry on the Covid-19 situation, but also urged that personal protective equipment and face masks no longer be exported overseas. Its president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh its member hospitals are ready to coordinate the management of Covid-19 patients, so as to not overburden the public healthcare sector, and to assist in terms of equipment and manpower. “The Health Ministry has met with public and private healthcare providers recently to work out strategies for public-private partnership in managing this situation.

125 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in M'sia, bringing total to 553 The Edge Markets 16th Mar 2020
The Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that as at 12pm today, there were 125 new confirmed Covid-19 cases, bringing the tally to 553 in Malaysia. The MoH revealed that 95 of the new cases are related to the cluster involving the tabligh assembly at the Sri Petaling mosque. It is estimated that there were more than 15,000 participants at the tabligh assembly between Feb 27 and March 1. So far, 7,000 of the participants have reportedly come forward to get themselves tested. Meanwhile, 12 Covid-19 patients have been placed under intensive care units (ICU), up from nine yesterday, MoH said. The three new patients are all from the same tabligh assembly cluster. The number of cured cases in the country stands at 42, as there have been no new discharges today. Health minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the ministry has entered the final containment phase, which is late containment. In the final stage, MoH aims to curb the spread of Covid-19 infection from becoming more serious in Malaysia. As it stands, Selangor records the highest number of positive Covid-19 cases, followed by Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, and Johor. When asked about the possibility of a national lockdown, Adham said prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin will make an important announcement on this matter tonight at 9pm. “We are curbing this issue seriously, as we go towards the ‘mitigation’ phase, so the Malaysian National Security Council will be involved. The prime minister will announce tonight,” he said. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on March 11 declared Covid-19, which broke out in Wuhan, China, as a pandemic.

190 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in M'sia, bringing tally to 428 — highest in Asean The Edge Markets 15th Mar 2020
The Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that there are 190 new confirmed Covid-19 cases, bringing the tally to 428 in Malaysia. The MoH revealed that most of the new cases are related to the cluster involving the tabligh assembly at the Sri Petaling mosque. It is estimated that there were more than 15,000 participants at the tabligh assembly between Feb 27 and March 1. In a statement on March 15, the MoH urged Malaysians not to circulate false or unverified information that will cause public panic. The ministry said it will update the public regularly on the latest status of the situation. In the meantime, the MoH is calling on all participants at the tabligh assembly to contact their respective MoH district offices for necessary precautionary action to be taken. All the participants are placed under supervision and observation under Section 15(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 for 14 days since the date they attended the tabligh assembly. Likewise, all the patients under investigation (PUI) who do not meet the criteria for admission to hospital are also placed under supervision and observation under the same provision of the same Act. The MoH also announced that seven Covid-19 patients have recovered and they have been discharged from Sungai Buloh Hospital. There have been 42 cured cases so far. Malaysia is currently the country with the highest number of infected cases in the Asean region while Singapore is the second highest with 212 confirmed cases. The number of cases in Thailand increased to 114 today, Indonesia 117 and the Philippines 140, Vietnam 53, and Brunei Darussalam 40, according to official data.

Medical players call for drug production plan NST Online 14th Mar 2020
The government needs a master plan to attract pharmaceutical companies to set up manufacturing facilities in Malaysia. Medical experts and pharmacists said such a move would be a crucial security measure to prevent a drug shortage crisis should there be another outbreak similar to Covid-19. Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said it was important for the government to engage local manufacturers and importers to discuss a mitigation plan. Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society president Amrahi Buang, who shared MMA’s views, said the government should support local manufacturers and encourage multinational companies to establish manufacturing plants here.

COVID-19 : Selangor postpones all large-scale events The Edge Markets 13th Mar 2020
Selangor has put on hold all its large-scale events, effective March 12. Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said among postponed programmes were Selangor Land Carnival 2020 and Selangor Job Fair 2020 which were scheduled to be held this weekend. “Following the declaration that COVID-19 is now a pandemic, all large-scale events will be postponed with immediate effect until the situation improved. “The private sector is also advised to postpone non-critical programs following the two-fold increase in COVID-19 infection currently, which has the potential to continue to spread,” he told reporters after visiting Westports Malaysia here today. On the State Assembly sitting anticipated to start this Monday for two weeks, Amirudin said it would be held as scheduled with a tightened precautionary measure.   Besides health check, hand sanitizers and face masks will be provided to all involved, he said.

Malaysia bans public events to curb COVID-19 spread The Edge Markets 13th Mar 2020
To contain the spread of COVID-19, the Malaysian government has decided that all public gatherings including international meetings, sporting fixtures, social and religious events will be postponed or cancelled accordingly until April 30, 2020, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. “The decision will be reviewed if the COVID-19 situation improves,” said Muhyiddin in a televised speech on March 13. He noted that the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) issued a set of guidelines for religious gatherings at mosques to prevent the spread of COVID-19. "For other religions, organizers of religious gatherings with big crowds should seek advice and recommendations from the Health Ministry. As for schools, the Government has taken steps to curb the spread of the virus including banning all assemblies," said Muhyiddin. Muhyiddin told the Malaysian public that the COVID-19 crisis is not expected to end soon, given the increasing number of infected cases globally. Back home, he said the rising new cases have been traced to two COVID-19 clusters, mainly involving Malaysians. According to the Ministry of Health, there are 39 new confirmed cases as of 12 noon today, bringing the tally to 197 in the country. Muhyiddin noted that the virus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, has entered a second wave, prompting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare it a pandemic on March 11. In view of this, Muhyiddin said the Government will step up screening processes at all international points of entry in Malaysia, impose travel bans on high-risk countries and provide special passages for tourists from such countries.

Azmin: Malaysia, Singapore to enhance cooperation in battling Covid-19 outbreak Malay Mail 13th Mar 2020
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali suggested that Malaysia and Singapore should enhance their cooperation in facing the Covid-19 pandemic. On March 13, Azmin received a congratulatory call from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Singapore Heng Swee Keat this morning. “Considering the close geographical proximity and shared borders between Malaysia and Singapore, it is also paramount for both countries to enhance cooperation in facing the Covid-19 pandemic. Heng and I exchanged views on how Singapore and Malaysia can work together to enhance our relations as we enter a new phase of closer and more productive cooperation,” Azmin posted on his Twitter account. Azmin, the former Minister of Economic Affairs in the previous Pakatan Harapan government was appointed as one of four senior ministers in Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s cabinet last week. On February 26, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to the Terms of Reference (ToR) under the Joint Working Group (JWG) to further enhance cooperation to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19. Health Ministry’s Deputy Director-General of Health (Public Health) Datuk Dr Chong Chee Kheong and Singapore Health Ministry’s Deputy Secretary (Development) Dr Benjamin Koh led their respective delegations and updated each other on the technical level on the Covid-19 situations in their respective countries, shared existing screening protocols at the two land borders, and began discussions on joint-border cooperation. Other than health risks, both countries have also been affected by the outbreak with decline in international trade, tourism as well as domestic business sectors.

Covid-19: Negri Sembilan postpones all public events Malay Mail 11th Mar 2020
Negri Sembilan has put all public events, including Israk Mikraj celebration on March 20, on hold in the wake of COVID-19 infection in the country. Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun said the postponement of the programs was made after the state government took into account the views of various parties and to prevent the spread of the virus. “Only closed-door events involving department programs will be held,” he told reporters after chairing the state executive council meeting here today. In another development, Aminuddin said the Pakatan Harapan-led state government would cooperate with the Perikatan Nasional federal government for the benefit of the people in Negri Sembilan. “We have no problem working with the federal government, especially on issues related to the people, even though we are now the opposition,” he added.

Covid-19: 20 new cases, one recovery today, says Health D-G Malay Mail 11th Mar 2020
The Health Ministry (MOH) today confirmed another 20 new positive cases in the country on March 11, bringing the total number of cases to 149.Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said one case, Case 78, has recovered and was allowed to go home. To date, 26 people have fully recovered and discharged, he added. The ministry was conducting investigations and contact tracing activities for each new case to identify the source of infections, he said in a statement today. He said of the total number of positive cases, 22 were detected among Patients Under Investigation (PUI), 124 were close contacts, two were from a Humanitarian Aid Mission and one was a severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) patient identified during Covid-19 surveillance. Meanwhile, he said the International Health Regulations (IHR) Focal Point (FP) Brunei had informed its Malaysian counterpart about the detection of a positive Covid-19 case in that country. The patient was reported to have attended a tabligh assembly at Masjid Seri Petaling, Selangor from February 27 to March 1. “Based on preliminary information, the assembly involved some 10,000 people from several countries including Malaysia. “The number of Malaysian participants was estimated at more than 5,000. All State Health Departments are conducting further investigations on the matter in their respective states,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

Malaysia Diabetes Devices Industry Report 2020-2023: Revenue Forecasts, Avg Selling Prices, Market Shares of Leading Participants; Their Market Strategies and Route to Market PR Newswire 10th Mar 2020
The "Malaysian Diabetes Devices Market, Forecast to 2023" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. This study provides an in-depth view of each of the 4 segments: SMBG and POCT; CGM; insulin pens; and insulin pumps through the analyses of drivers, restraints, revenue forecasts, average selling prices of products and consumables, the market shares of top participants, their market strategies, and route to market. As Malaysians are predominantly uninsured or do not have coverage for diabetes management devices, their glucose levels tend to be irregularly monitored. This results in even the diagnosed population developing health complications from the condition. The market potential for diabetes devices in Malaysia or other Asia-Pacific countries is huge but is hampered by access and affordability. For any company targeting these markets, it is crucial that it understands the current competitive landscape; reimbursement and regulatory policies; and the distribution structure, to determine its opportunity and the best go-to-market strategy.

MMA lauds selection of medical doctors to lead Health Ministry | Malay Mail Malay Mail 10th Mar 2020
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said the selection of two trained doctors to handle the Health portfolio should lead to better policies for the country’s healthcare. The group noted that both incoming Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba and his deputy, Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, had served in the country’s hospitals previously. “We believe this will be a plus point and beneficial in policy making of our nation’s healthcare. “The appointment of two deputy health ministers may be seen as the priority given to this ministry,” the MMA said in a statement.

Malaysia reports 12 new Covid-19 cases, bringing total to 129 The Edge Markets 10th Mar 2020
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has confirmed 12 new cases of Covid-19 infections, bringing the total confirmed cases to 129, from 117 yesterday. In the meantime, patient 87 has fully recovered and been discharged from the hospital, bringing the total number of cured cases to 25. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has visited the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) at the MoH to learn about the latest development on the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia. In a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the government stated it will continue to enhance its existing capacity in various ministries and agencies in preparation for the possibility of more severe Covid-19 cases. These include improving the aspects of human resources, laboratory facilities, health clinics and hospitals to treat Covid-19 cases. The government is also planning to make the Sungai Buloh Hospital a dedicated hospital for treating Covid-19 cases.

TNB takes proactive measures to reduce risk of Covid-19 The Edge Markets 10th Mar 2020
Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has taken proactive measures against Covid-19 at its TNB Headquarters in Jalan Bangsar, Wisma TNB in Jalan Timur, Petaling Jaya, and all branches nationwide. In a statement on March 10, its chief corporate officer, Datuk Wira Roslan Ab Rahman, said the disinfection process and cleaning of the office environment took place on March 7 and 8, with the aim of ensuring that all employees and visitors feel confident about the safety and cleanliness of TNB offices. He said since last week, TNB had taken precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by conducting health screening for all employees and visitors at all TNB offices. “Every officer of ‘Kedai Tenaga’ dealing with customers are provided with face masks. Liquid disinfectants are also available on the premises for the convenience of employees and customers. “TNB is also monitoring body temperatures of employees and customers at all ‘Kedai Tenaga’ nationwide,” he said. He said cleaning of door handles, counters, chairs and payment kiosks ay Kedai Tenaga were also done three times a day using liquid disinfectants.

Malaysia records 28 new Covid-19 cases The Malaysian Reserve 6th Mar 2020
The Health Ministry (MoH) has confirmed 28 new positive cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (Covid-19) today, making the cases up to 83 than 55 recorded on March 5. Health Ministry DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said all of the cases have been detected for further treatment. The confirmation of Covid-19 positive cases has totaled up the sum to 83 cases, whereby the positive cases are among Patient-Under-Investigation (PUI) of Covid-19 infection, close contacts and humanitarian aid mission. Out of the total, 65 are nationals, 15 from China and three of them are from the United States, Japan and Italy. Dr Noor Hisham added that to date, a total of 956 close contacts have been identified, whereby a total of 258 close contacts to the clusters associated with case 26 has been detected and sampled. MoH is also carrying out investigations and contact activities to identify the cause of the infection in order to prevent the spread. Meanwhile, case 26 involving UDA Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Hisham Hamdan denied contracting the outbreak from his Shanghai trip.

Five new Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, tally at 55 NST Online 5th Mar 2020
The Health Ministry today confirmed five new cases of Covid-19 in the country on March 5, bringing the tally of infections to 55. The new cases were revealed by Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah who said these new cases were linked to Case 26. It was previously reported that Case 26 is an UDA Holdings Bhd board member, who had a history of travelling to Shanghai, China and that he tested positive on Mar 1. “Two patients namely cases 54 and 55 are first-generation cases in which they have (continuous) direct contact with Case 26. “The remaining of the new cases (cases 51, 52 and 53) are second-generation cases that have indirect contact with Patient 26,” he told reporters after attending a Covid-19 cluster Working Committee meeting, here. On the outcome of the meeting, Dr Noor Hisham said after taking into consideration that the outbreak has now entered the second wave, Malaysians have been advised to postpone travel plans to Lombardo, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna in Italy; Hokkaido in Japan as well as Tehran, Qom and Gilan in Iran. “A temporary restriction of entry was also decided for all visitors (with the exception of citizens, permanent residents, social pass holders and Malaysian student pass holders) with travel history of visiting the above towns or territories within the last 14 days prior to their arrival in Malaysia,” he said. It was also decided during the meeting that the government would gazette face masks as a control item under the Control Support Regulations (Prohibition of Exports) 2020 to ensure sufficient supply of face masks for domestic use.

(Update) 14 new Covid-19 cases in Malaysia NST Online 4th Mar 2020
The Malaysian Health Ministry has confirmed a new Covid-19 cluster, involving 14 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the tally to 50. All 14 cases were first and second generation cases linked to patient 26, an Uda Holdings Bhd board member, who tested positive on March 1. Patient 26 had a history of travel to Shanghai, China, in January, but did not show symptoms until six weeks later. “After 11 days without new reported cases, a second wave began on Feb 27. As of March 4, the second wave has recorded 28 positive cases (which are cases 23 to 50)," said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a statement today. “The new cluster involves case 26. Based on investigations and contact tracing carried out to date, 215 close contacts of case 26 have been detec This brings the total number of positive cases in this cluster to 21 cases (cases 30 to 50).” It added that from the total, 16 cases were found positive, 19 negative, while 180 were still awaiting test results. The ministry also said five cases were close contacts to several of the 16 close contacts traced to patient 26. “From the information gathered, patient 26 had been involved in several activities.””

Malaysia-based digital health platform DoctorOnCall partners with Merchantrade to expand user base MobiHealthNews 4th Mar 2020
DoctorOnCall, a Malaysia-based digital health platform by Health Digital Technologies Sdn. Bhd, has partnered with Merchantrade Asia Sdn Bhd (Merchantrade), which will allow Merchantrade Money application’s users to access online consultations with accredited doctors and e-pharmacy, purchase medication safely and have them delivered conveniently. Merchantrade Money users just have to click on the icon "talk to a doctor" and "e-pharmacy," following a consultation. Merchantrade, which was founded in 1996, is a Malaysia-based money services business, digital payment service and mobile virtual network provider.

Myanmar

Myanmar govt readies facilities for possible quarantine The Myanmar Times 23rd Mar 2020
The Yangon Region Government has prepared 500 apartment units and two 300-bed hospitals for quarantine purposes, should the COVID-19 virus strike the city, according to Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein. The regional government continues to seek monetary assistance and medical equipment as the spread and severity cannot be predicted.

Doctors register as volunteers to fight Covid-19 in Myanmar The Star Online 22nd Mar 2020
Eighty doctors have registered themselves as volunteers to Myanmar Medical Association (Central) for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 to this date. Myanmar Medical Association (Central) in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Sports has been enlisting volunteer doctors for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 since March 20.

Working Committee holds meeting to address impact of COVID-19 on country’s economy Global New Light Of Myanmar 15th Mar 2020
The Working Committee to address the impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the Country’s Economy was held at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) in Yangon yesterday. Speaking at the meeting, U Thaung Tun, Union Minister, Investment and Foreign Economic Relations and chair of the working committee, stressed that the Committee was formed to consider measures to address the negative impacts of the COVID-19 situation on the country’s economy. The meeting discussed short, medium and long term measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The Working Committee also reviewed additional measures to be undertaken by the government, together with the private sector.

Myanmar to roll out advance in kidney-matching The Myanmar Times 12th Mar 2020
The National Health Laboratory (NHL) in Yangon Region will introduce a better way to match kidney donors and patients across the country over the next year, a senior laboratory official said. Dr Htay Htay Tin, NHL deputy director general, said the technique is called human leukocyte antigen typing and cross-matching and molecular cytogenetic technique. “The NHL is the only one testing tissue typing and cross matching for kidney transplant donors and patients in Myanmar,” she said. “We will begin introducing it this year.”

YCDC takes steps to make Yangon more livable The Myanmar Times 11th Mar 2020
Yangon City Development Council (YCDC) is moving to make Yangon a livable city by putting a bike lane and bike symbols on the Seikkanthar Street last month with the support of Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT). “We congratulate them for doing a good thing. It was YCDC’s decision and budget. They deserved to be congratulated for what they did,” Rupert Mann, programmes manager for Built and Cultural Heritage with the Yangon Heritage Trust told The Myanmar Times. Yangon Heritage Trust has been very interested in public grounds upgrade and upgrading the streets and parks. For quite a long time, YHT included ideas of having a bike lane in their Yangon heritage strategy which was written in 2015 for the new government. At least five years they have been trying to convince the authorities and try to help them to put bike lanes.

Myanmar legislator seeks to regulate e-cigarettes, water pipes The Myanmar Times 9th Mar 2020
Dr San Shwe Win, an MP and doctor in Ayeyarwady Region’s Yegyi township, has filed a bill seeking to regulate e-cigarettes and water pipes. His proposal aims to control the sale of vapes across the country and would require programmes to teach children about the dangers of vaping.  Five of the 10 ASEAN countries have prohibited e-cigarettes, and the remaining four have taken measures to regulate it. Myanmar is the only ASEAN member that has not taken any action against vaping, he said.

Singapore sends coronavirus test kits to Myanmar The Straits Times 4th Mar 2020
The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on March 4 that the Government has contributed 3,000 diagnostic tests and two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines to test for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. MFA said the contribution was in response to a request from the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports.

Philippines

RITM says its turnaround time for Covid-19 tests much faster Business Mirror 31st Mar 2020
RITM Director Celia Carlos, in a virtual press conference, told DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire the tedious testing procedure of Covid-19 results takes 48 to 72 hours. The turnout time, however, according to Carlos, is already a “big improvement.“We hope that we can sustain this,” she added, noting that while before the RITM could only test 300 kits per day, “the RITM is now capable of conducting 900 to 1,000 tests each day.” While they continue to do their best to quickly validate the test kits—but with accurate results—Carlos assured that they will go on taking care of patients in RITM as well.

5 rapid test kits get FDA nod Malaya 31st Mar 2020
THE Food and Drug Administration on Monday said it has approved the use of five rapid test kits for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with four coming from China and one from Singapore. The FDA-approved rapid test kits are Nanjing Vazyme 2019-nCov IgG/IgM Detection Kit of Biolidics Limited from Singapore; Novel Coronavirus (2019 NCOV) IgM/IgG Antibody Detection Kit Colloidal Gold Method of Nanjing Vazyme Medical Technology Co. Ltd. from Nanjing, China; Diagnostic Kit for IgM/IgG Antibody to Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Colloidal Gold of Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostic Inc. from Guangdong, China; 2019-nCOV Antibody Test (Colloidal Gold) Innovita (Tangshan) of Biological Technology Co., Ltd. from Hebei, China; and SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test (Lateral Flow Method of Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co. Ltd. from Guangzhou, China. Domingo said despite the approval, there is a need to establish guidelines and protocols in the use of the kits because these are not meant to be for the personal use of the patient. He also said that the results of the rapid test kits must not be taken as 100 percent accurate, without confirmatory testing.“A positive result due to cross-reaction with other bacteria or viruses is also possible, which is why a confirmatory PCR based test is still required,” Domingo said.

Duterte: Gov’t to accredit more medical facilities for COVID-19 testing Manila Bulletin 31st Mar 2020
The government is building up its capacity to conduct coronavirus testing by accrediting more medical facilities in the coming weeks, President Duterte announced.The President recognized that conducting more tests would give a “more accurate picture” of the spread of the new coronavirus in the country. Duterte made the announcement after the number of COVID-19 cases reached 1,546, including 78 fatalities as of March 30. Some sectors have called for mass testing while Luzon remains on lockdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak. Duterte also announced the acquisition of one million personal protective supplies for the country’s health frontliners. Other medical supplies and devices needed in the battle against the coronavirus are also being procured by the government.

Senator, Mindanao officials unveil strategies to fight virus, ensure steady food supply BusinessMirror 30th Mar 2020
Senator Imee Marcos gave full credit Sunday to “Diskarteng Pinoy” innovation that quickly solved the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for medical personnel tasked to stop the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). “The Filipino ability to adapt and survive amid adversity, colloquially known as diskarte, is solving the lack of PPE for medical frontliners fighting to stop the spread of Covid-19,” Marcos said over the weekend.

Metro Pacific forms COVID-19 crisis team Business World 30th Mar 2020
THE HOSPITAL unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has stepped up its response to the pandemic by forming a crisis team and designating one of its hospitals as a referral facility for those positive of the deadly virus. In a statement yesterday, Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc. (MPHHI) said it was increasing efforts to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) through the newly formed team. “The country’s health care system faces unprecedented challenges… Our Hospitals Group are focusing their resources on critical concerns — particularly hospital care for the most critically-ill patients infected by COVID-19,” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in the statement.

ADB approves $5-M emergency grant for PHL fight vs virus | BusinessWorld Business World 29th Mar 2020
THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $5-million emergency grant for the Philippines’ fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Finance (DoF) said on Sunday. In a statement, the DoF quoted ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa as saying the funds will allow the Philippines to leverage private sector donations for a food distribution program for Luzon’s poorest households. Set to be launched as early as next week, the program will be implemented by the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in coordination with the DoF.

Amid rising cases, PHL on right track to slow virus spread–WHO BusinessMirror 25th Mar 2020
DESPITE the surge in local cases of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday the country is still in the right direction to slow down its spread. In a press briefing, WHO Representative in the Philippines Rabin­dra Abeyasinghe commended the declaration of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon, which he said is crucial for the government to “buy time” to prepare its health-care system for the influx of Covid-infected patients. “That [ECQ] is important in buying time to flatten the epidemic and reduce the pace of the outbreak,” Abeyasinghe said. The WHO official, however, noted that the lockdown of Luzon will be insufficient to contain the spread of the disease if it does not go with strict social distancing. “The government is doing what it can. It is now the responsibility of everyone of us to maintain the physical distancing, particularly from those who are vulnerable: the elderly, the people with underlying health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cancer and asthma, because we know if they become sick, the outcomes are going to be less favorable,” Abeyasinghe said. From less than 10 confirmed cases last month, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country rose to 552 based on the March 24 monitoring report of the Department of Health (DOH). Related story on page A8, “DOH reports 90 new Covid-19 cases, moves to protect patients with TB.” Abeyasinghe said a similar surge in the number of Covid-19 cases is happening at a global scale. Based on WHO’s March 23 report, there are already 332,930 confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide. “We need to recognize that this is now classified as a pandemic. In the words of our director general it is accelerating. The first 100,000 cases took 67 days, the second 100,000 took 11 days, the third 100,000 took 4 days, so more and more countries are affected,” Abeyasinghe  said. ‘Not the enemy’ Also on Tuesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire advised Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro not to consider the Department of Health as the enemy. This, after the mayor said Monday the DOH should not look at them as a “mere client” applying for a license to operate a laboratory facility for coronavirus disease testing. On Sunday, Teodoro was surprised to learn that Vergeire said they did not approve yet the testing center of Marikina.

DOH reports 90 new Covid-19 cases, moves to protect patients with TB BusinessMirror 24th Mar 2020
THE Department of Health (DOH) reported 90 new cases (PH463-552) of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infected to 552. As of 4 p.m. March 24, the DOH also announced two new recoveries and two deaths. There are now 20 recoveries and 35 deaths. The DOH said the 19th recovery is PH130. She is a 21-year-old Filipino female from Davao de Oro with travel history from the United Kingdom and Qatar.

Congress grants Duterte covid standby powers philstar.com 24th Mar 2020
Congress passed last night a bill declaring a state of national emergency that would give President Duterte “limited” powers to help contain the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Senate and House of Representatives opened their separate sessions at 10 a.m. to tackle their nearly identical draft bills principally authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, respectively. The measure, entitled “Bayanihan Act of 2020,” authorizes the executive department to “realign, reallocate and reprogram” about P275 billion in this year’s national budget for purposes of combatting the global disease that has already claimed the lives of thousands.

Duterte to sign emergency bill to fight virus, as cases rise to 462 South China Morning Post 23rd Mar 2020
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign a new law by Tuesday that would grant him emergency powers to combat the coronavirus crisis, the country’s senate president said. The law will free up 275 billion pesos (US$5.3 billion) of this year’s national budget, of which 200 billion pesos will be used to fund subsidies of between 5,000 and 8,000 pesos for 18 million low-income households. The remaining 75 billion pesos would be for coronavirus testing and processing, personal protective equipment for those on the front lines, and to construct or lease temporary hospitals and housing for front-line health workers.

Study finds weak spots in government’s health-decentralization program BusinessMirror 20th Mar 2020
Insufficient health budgets prevent local government units (LGUs) from improving health services in their respective localities according to a study released by the state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). In a study, titled Fiscal Decentralization and Health Service Delivery: An Assessment, PIDS Supervising Research Specialist Janet S. Cuenca said this is due to the mismatch between the cost of devolution and the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of LGUs. “The findings of the DID [difference-in-differences] analysis suggest that greater health decentralization has negative impact on access to hospital inpatient services and access to sanitation [toilet]. It contradicts the hypothesis of the study that expects greater health decentralization to result in better health services,” Cuenca said.

DTI tells food, medicine manufacturers with 1-month inventory to stop production philstar.com 19th Mar 2020
The trade department has urged food and medical supply manufacturers whose stocks are good for one month to temporarily stop their operations to minimize the number of people going out of their homes while Luzon is under enhanced community quarantine. While food and medical supplies producers are exempted from the home quarantine, those who have finished goods that are good for one or two months can implement a manufacturing "holiday" so their workers can remain in their homes.

PRRD declares 2nd week of March as 'PH Digestive Health week' Philippine News Agency 19th Mar 2020
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the second week of March as “Philippine Digestive Health Week”, stressing the need to raise awareness on diseases and conditions relating to digestive health. Proclamation No. 930, signed by Duterte of March 18, directs the Department of Health (DOH) to lead, coordinate, and supervise the nationwide yearly observance of the Philippine Digestive Health Week. “There is a need to promote awareness, educate the public, and pool resources for the prevention and management of various diseases and conditions relating to digestive health,” the proclamation read.

FDA warns public vs fake ‘test kits’ for coronavirus BusinessMirror 15th Mar 2020
ALTHOUGH many companies have been marketing test kits since the outbreak of the deadly disease, an official of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Sunday that no coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) test kits are available to the market yet. This is because, according to FDA Director General Eric Domingo, no company has complied with the minimum set of requirements. The only Covid-19 diagnostic test kits used now are PCR-based lab kits at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine donated by the World Health Organization (WHO); and the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health; and the Department of Science and Technology-developed test kit.

The Center for Device Regulation, Radiation Health, and Research shall start receiving the applications based on the ASEAN Harmonized Technical Requirements on 13 March 2020. Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines 13th Mar 2020
The Center for Device Regulation, Radiation Health, and Research shall start receiving the applications based on the ASEAN Harmonized Technical Requirements on 13 March 2020. This is in accordance with the FDA Circular No. 2020-001, Processing of Initial Implementation of Administrative Order No. 2018-002 "Guidelines Governing the Issuance of an Authorization for a Medical Device Based on the ASEAN Harmonized Technical Requirements".

‘Hysteria’ over coronavirus hurting malls, hotels Business World 11th Mar 2020
PANIC over the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) around Metro Manila is hurting the property sector, as more Filipinos avoid visiting shopping malls and staying at hotels. In a briefing in Makati City yesterday, Pronove Tai President and Chief Executive Officer Monique C. Pronove said the coronavirus outbreak will weigh heavily on the hospitality and retail sectors, as the number of foreign tourists plunge and major public events such as conferences are canceled or postponed. “Mass hysteria will impact the property sector in the first half of 2020 as a reaction to COVID-19,” she said

Weak demand, high inventory cut farm-gate price of broiler BusinessMirror 9th Mar 2020
The average farm-gate price of broiler fell 5 percent to P71 per kilogram due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) scare and the increase in poultry meat supply, according to the United Broiler Raisers Association (Ubra). Data provided by Ubra showed that the average price of live broiler fell for the third consecutive week. The latest figure is also the lowest quotation for live broiler since the start of the year. Ubra Chairman Gregorio F. San Diego Jr. said demand for broiler meat declined as business activities were slower due to the virus scare, referring to COVID-19. The confirmation of cases in the Philippines had discouraged consumers from frequenting malls and eating out.

EDC to weigh impact of COVID-19 on other industries | Bernadette D. Nicolas BusinessMirror 9th Mar 2020
The country’s economic managers are set to meet on Tuesday to look into the potential impact of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) not just on tourism but also on the construction sector. The Economic Development Cluster (EDC) meeting will be held after the Department of Health raised the COVID-19 Alert System to Code Red Sublevel 1 over the weekend after Manila confirmed its sixth case of COVID-19. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters that although it is clear that the tourism sector will take a hit from the outbreak of the virus, the government has yet to see its impact on other industries.

PHL eyes loan as World Bank prepares $12-billion virus fund BusinessMirror 5th Mar 2020
THE World Bank has made available $12 billion worth of immediate support for countries in their response to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), a development that Manila welcomed, as it is in talks with donors for a planned loan package for the coronavirus outbreak and “similar events.” In a statement, the Washington-based lender said the fast-track financing is designed to help member-countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by Covid-19. The funds will be used to strengthen health systems, provide better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies.

DoF mulls availing of WB loan to fund efforts vs coronavirus | BusinessWorld Business World 4th Mar 2020
THE government is considering availing a loan package from multilateral lenders to fund efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) within the country. This, after the World Bank Group announced on Wednesday an initial $12 billion in immediate financial support for developing countries battling the disease. ”We are currently in discussions with the DoH (Department of Health) on a loan package with multilateral agencies and this announcement of the World Bank is certainly welcomed,” Finance (DoF) Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters in a Viber message on Wednesday.

Singapore

Manulife partners with dacadoo for enhanced customer engagement MobiHealthNews 26th Mar 2020
Insurance and financial services provider Manulife announced that it will be collaborating with dacadoo, a Swiss-based global digital health provider to enhance its digital offerings in Asia. The partnership will see dacadoo strengthening Manulife’s existing health engagement platform, ManulifeMOVE. The enhanced capabilities, which features dacadoo’s patented Health Score, will provide ManulifeMOVE’s customers a new scoring method to measure how healthy they are and what they need to do to stay healthy. According to Manulife, the enhanced capabilities will make it easier for ManulifeMOVE customers to make better health decisions by encouraging them to take simple, preventative actions, including on better nutrition, exercise and sleep habits, to improve their long-term health. The new functionalities will be available on the ManulifeMOVE programme and accessible to policyholders in Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam from May 2020.

Biolidics to launch ten-minute rapid test kits for COVID-19 MobiHealthNews 31st Mar 2020
Singapore-listed medtech company Biolidics recently launched its rapid test kit for COVID-19 and has entered into a manufacturer agreement with a diagnostic kit manufacturer to customize and manufacture the rapid test kits. The first batch of Biolidics’ rapid test kits is expected to be available in April 2020. Biolidics has obtained provisional authorization from Singapore’s Health Science Authority (HSA) for its rapid test kit to be used in Singapore. The medtech company, which focuses on diagnostic cancer solutions, is working closely with Clearbridge Health to obtain the relevant approval and/or authorization from the various health authorities in the region for the use of the rapid test kit.

Coronavirus: Firms which fail to implement telecommuting where possible may face fines, stop-work orders The Straits Times 31st Mar 2020
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will come down harder on companies that have not made serious efforts to put in place work-from-home arrangements, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said. Speaking at the multi-ministry task force briefing, she warned that MOM is looking into amending laws to increase potential penalties, including fines and stop-work orders, for firms that fail to follow MOM advisories which were announced in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mrs. Teo also said there will be a fivefold increase in the number of enforcement officers. Currently, about 100 officers fan out across Singapore to perform checks on firms.

Singapore announces AI platform for cell therapy and immuno-oncology BioSpectrumAsia 30th Mar 2020
Singapore based Proteona Pte. Ltd. has announced the “DeepSee” collaboration on developing a platform for patient-derived micro-tumors for drug screening and discovery using single cell multi-omics analysis. The strategic partners include the German drug discovery firm Synovo, and the NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen. The project receives funding from Enterprise Singapore jointly with the central innovation program (Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand, ZIM) initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

Singapore's NGL expands affordable medical healthcare BioSpectrumAsia 30th Mar 2020
Novena Global Lifecare (the "Company" or "NGL"), entrenches its footprint in Singapore for its medical healthcare division under its group of companies, Novena Global Surgery. As one of Asia's largest integrated medical healthcare and aesthetics group, Novena Global Lifecare has established itself as leader in Taiwan's health screening sector. Currently, Novena Global Lifecare drives a multi-million revenue portfolio that provides lifecare management solutions tailored to Asian demographics to help customers in their journey of well-being across their life stages. The establishment of Novena Global Surgery includes Aptus Surgery Centre ("Aptus") in Paragon Medical Centre and Novaptus Surgery Centre ("Novaptus") at Camden Medical Centre. Both offer health screenings and day surgery facilities to their customers.

Singapore designs high resolution medical device BioSpectrumAsia 30th Mar 2020
Scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed the prototype of a handheld medical imaging device that can produce images down to resolutions of 1 to 2 micrometres. This is detailed enough to spot the first signs of tumours in specific cells and is about 100 times higher resolution than what X-Ray, computed tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines can provide. The technology behind the device is a result of six years of optical imaging research and was jointly developed by a team from NTU with researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the University of Alabama, U.S.A.

Elite Dental Group first to adopt dental AI technology BioSpectrumAsia 29th Mar 2020
Elite Dental Group, a cornerstone partner of healthcare giant Novena Global Lifecare, is first in Singapore to adopt a cutting edge Dental Artificial Intelligence(AI) Technology called "SmileMate", created by Dental Monitoring, a Dental Technology and AI-based company headquartered in Paris, France, addressing the needs of patients who have dental anxiety and dental professionals alike, for the provision of remote and virtual general dental consultation services to such patients. Only general dental information will be given to the potential patient and the attending dental surgeon could encourage the potential patient to seek a professional consultation at a dental practice, where proper professional dental opinions will be given . No consultation fee will be collected from this remote dental consultation.

Singapore to give eligible self-employed persons S$9,000 each The Star Online 28th Mar 2020
About 88,000 self-employed persons will receive cash payouts of S$3,000 each in May, July and October this year to help them in this time of economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs), which will cost $1.2 billion in total, will be open to those who earn a Net Trade Income of no more than $100,000, live in a property with an annual value of no more than $13,000 and do not own two or more properties.

Singapore adds $48 B more in “Resilience Budget" to fight COVID-19 BioSpectrumAsia 26th Mar 2020
Singapore is dedicating nearly SGD $55billion (USD $38.2billion) to combat coronavirus impact in the region, with the introduction of additional SGD $48billion in “resilience budget”, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. The new fund will be an addition to SGD $6.4billion announced earlier in Feb 2020 to fight against coronavirus pandemic. This ‘Supplementary Budget’ accounts to 11 per cent of GDP and amounts to nearly half of the Government's $106 billion budget for 2020. This is only the second time Singapore has drawn on its national reserves to fund special budget measures, apart from the earlier 2009 global financial crisis.

Why Singapore’s coronavirus response worked – and what we can all learn South China Morning Post 25th Mar 2020
Singapore’s response to the coronavirus has been held up by many around the world as a model. As of this week, the country has had 558 cases and two deaths, and its infection rate is much slower than the rest of the world. The first thing that helped with its response was it was ready before the outbreak even occurred because of the Sars outbreak. Singapore didn’t let positive patients back into the community. Singapore has contact tracing teams, who identify all the contacts of an infected person and ring them up. The messaging has also been very strategic. There’s a cross-ministerial task force – we regard this as a whole of government issue, not just a health issue.

Singapore says it will make its contact tracing tech freely available to developers CNBC 25th Mar 2020
Less than a week after launching an app to track potential exposure to the coronavirus, Singapore is making the technology freely available to developers worldwide. The city-state rolled out an app called TraceTogether on March 20 and described it as a supplementary tool for its contact tracing efforts that relied on the recall and memory of infected individuals. Contact tracing is the process of identifying those with close contact with infected patients.

All entertainment venues in Singapore to close, gatherings outside work and school limited to 10 people The Straits Times 24th Mar 2020
Bars, cinemas and all other entertainment outlets will be closed from Thursday (March 26) till April 30 as Singapore's fight against Covid-19 enters a new phase amid a wave of imported cases to the country. In announcing its strictest measures yet, the multi-ministry task force also said on Tuesday (March 24) that: all center-based tuition and enrichment classes will be suspended to reduce the intermingling of students from different schools and enhance the safety of students; all religious services will be suspended; malls, museums and restaurants must reduce crowd density to stay open; all Singapore residents returning from Britain and the United States from Wednesday (March 25) 11.59pm will have to stay in hotels to serve their 14-day stay-home notice (SHN); those who breach the SHN will face fines of less than $10,000 or jail of less than six months or both; any Singapore resident or long-term pass holder who leaves Singapore from March 27 will be charged unsubsidized rates should they be hospitalized in public hospitals for Covid-19 treatment.

Singapore residents who continue to travel abroad will pay full hospital charges if warded for coronavirus The Straits Times 24th Mar 2020
Singapore residents or long-term pass holders who insist on leaving the country despite the Government's travel advisories will have to pay full hospital charges if admitted for coronavirus-related treatments. Any Singapore resident or long-term pass holder who leaves Singapore from March 27 (Friday), in disregard of the prevailing travel advisories, will be charged unsubsidized rates for their inpatient stay at public hospitals if they are admitted for suspected Covid-19 and have onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore.

Coronavirus: People returning from UK and US to serve stay-home notice in dedicated facilities The Straits Times 24th Mar 2020
Those returning from UK and the US from 11.59pm on Wednesday (March 25) will serve their 14-day stay-home notice in dedicated facilities instead of in their own homes. The Ministry of Health is working with hotel operators to house returnees and will also arrange for them to be sent directly from the airport to the hotels. Returnees will have their own room and toilet, and have all their meals provided, so that they may avoid physical contact with other individuals.

Patients who are well but still testing positive for Covid-19 to be moved to community isolation facility to preserve hospital capacity The Straits Times 24th Mar 2020
Patients who are well but still testing positive for the coronavirus will be moved to a new Community Isolation Facility to ensure that healthcare facilities can cope with a possible surge in a number of cases. The Health Ministry (MOH) announced on Tuesday (March 24) that it had set up an isolation facility which can accommodate 500 people at D'Resort NTUC in Pasir Ris. Currently, patients who are well enough to be discharged from medical care but still test positive for the Covid-19 virus have been isolated in hospitals.

Coronavirus: All travellers arriving in Singapore must submit health declaration from Friday The Straits Times 23rd Mar 2020
All travellers arriving in Singapore - including Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders - must submit an online health declaration before proceeding with immigration clearance, from Friday 9am (March 27). The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Monday that all travellers will have to do so via the SG Arrival Card electronic service.

Singapore contributes US$500,000 to support WHO efforts against COVID-19 CNA 23rd Mar 2020
Singapore will contribute US$500,000 (S$730,000) to the World Health Organization (WHO) in support of its efforts to limit transmission of the coronavirus. In response to appeals by the United Nations and WHO, the Singapore Government will be making the contribution to WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for COVID-19, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health said in a joint statement on Monday (Mar 23).

More than 4,000 dengue cases in Singapore since start of 2020 as virus strain re-emerges CNA 22nd Mar 2020
More than 4,000 dengue cases have been reported since the start of 2020 – about twice the number of cases seen within the same period a year ago. A key concern is the growing evidence of a sustained switch in the predominant dengue virus serotype, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a news release on Sunday (Mar 22). Dengue virus serotype 2 (DENV-2) is the more predominant strain, but there has been an increase in dengue virus serotype 3 (DENV-3) cases lately.

Singapore works on developing Asian immune diversity atlas BioSpectrumAsia 16th Mar 2020
With the goal of supporting the science and technology that will make it possible to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of this century, a philanthropic organisation founded by Dr Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, awarded its first Asian research network grant. It was awarded to a team of scientists from Singapore, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, for their study titled “Asian Immune Diversity Atlas (AIDA)”. The team from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR’s) Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), RIKEN, and Samsung Medical Centre, aims to identify differences in the molecular properties of blood cells across five major Asian population groups – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Malay. In addition, AIDA will study differences between individuals of the same ethnicity living in different countries. The results from this work could help us understand why some populations, or some individuals within a population, are more susceptible to certain diseases, and could also pave the way for new blood-based diagnostic tests.

Singaporeans advised to defer all non-essential travel for next 30 days, as part of new Covid-19 measures The Straits Times 15th Mar 2020
Singaporeans should defer all non-essential travel, and border restrictions have been tightened to include all ASEAN states, as the Republic moves to reduce the growing risk of Covid-19 importation. With immediate effect, Singaporeans are advised to defer all non-essential travel abroad to reduce their risks of contracting the virus during this pandemic, the Ministry of Health said on March 15. This advisory will apply for 30 days and is subject to further review.

Novo Nordisk to enhance work on liver diseases BioSpectrumAsia 13th Mar 2020
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR’s) Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), and the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) have entered a strategic research collaboration with global healthcare company Novo Nordisk, to enhance the understanding of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and its more severe form, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The study aims to discover new molecular hallmarks and biomarkers of the disease specific to Asian populations, which could lead to the development of effective treatment strategies. The research collaboration will contribute to the understanding of a Singaporean- and Asian-centric NAFLD as part of a national research platform named Ensemble of Multi-disciplinary Systems and Integrated Omics for NAFLD (EMULSION).

Impact from new grading system for pre-packaged sugary drinks will be minimal: Manufacturers The Straits Times 11th Mar 2020
Major drink manufacturers say that while they expect the new advertising ban and grading system for pre-packaged sugary drinks to affect sales, the impact will be minimal. Manufacturers like Pokka Group and Coca Cola said about 60 per cent of their drinks, including their top sellers, are already within healthier-choice standards. The measures, announced in Parliament on March 5, are part of Singapore's war on diabetes.

Singapore to shift approach, 'double down' on COVID-19 measures within country: Lawrence Wong CNA 10th Mar 2020
Singapore has to shift its approach towards containing COVID-19 within the country, as the virus spreads worldwide and border controls become less relevant and effective in the future, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said on Tuesday (Mar 10). The authorities will have to double down on measures within Singapore, even as some basic surveillance at the borders continue, said the minister, who is the co-chair of a multi-ministry task force set up to handle the coronavirus. The Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday that senior-centric activities by government agencies will be suspended for two weeks. Over time, the Government will have to ramp up and implement more social distancing measures, Mr Wong said.

Tourists, short-term visitors have to pay for treatment The Straits Times 10th Mar 2020
Tourists and other short-term visit pass holders in Singapore have had to pay for Covid-19 treatment since last Saturday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday. It cited the rising numbers of infections globally and an expected rise in confirmed cases, saying Singapore will "need to prioritise resources at our public hospitals". Singapore will still waive testing fees for short-term visit pass holders, but they have to pay for treatment if warded. The Government will continue to pay for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders - such as those on work, student's and dependant's passes - admitted to public hospitals for treatment, an MOH spokesman said yesterday.

Arcturus, Duke-NUS to develop COVID-19 vaccine for Singapore BioSpectrumAsia 6th Mar 2020
US based Arcturus Therapeutics, a leading messenger RNA medicines company, and Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS), a research intensive, graduate entry medical school, have announced their partnership to develop a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine for Singapore. The development of a COVID-19 vaccine will be based on the Company’s STARR technology™ and will take advantage of a unique platform developed at Duke-NUS allowing rapid screening of vaccines for effectiveness and safety. The STARR Technology™ platform combines self-replicating RNA with LUNAR®, a leading nanoparticle non-viral delivery system, to produce proteins inside the human body. Due to superior immune response and sustained protein expression, Arcturus’ STARR Technology™ is expected to produce a vaccine response at much lower doses compared to traditional mRNA vaccines. This could lead to the ability to treat many more people with a single GMP-manufactured production batch, thereby greatly increasing efficiency and reducing the time required to produce sufficient quantities of vaccine for large populations.

Headwinds in Singapore's pharma industry could hurt revenues Health Care Asia Magazine 5th Mar 2020
Even as pharmaceutical companies become increasingly important in Singapore, they still face key barriers to market access which could dent their revenues, according to Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions cited the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s (PhRMA) Special 301 report, which said that the city faces issues in intellectual property (IP) protection, drug formulary listing practices, and conducting of clinical trials. Whilst Singapore maintains a strong IP protection and enforcement system, it artificially limits patent term restoration (PTR) for biopharmaceutical inventions to the product registration period, even when that registration relies on clinical trials conducted outside of Singapore.

New automated, contactless temperature-taking system rolled out at government buildings The Straits Times 4th Mar 2020
In a bid to make temperature taking more efficient, safe and cost-saving, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) has developed a new automated self-help temperature-scanning system, which has been deployed in more than 30 government buildings and community facilities in less than two weeks. Developed and manufactured in-house by GovTech, the temperature scanner uses existing off-the-shelf tools, such as a battery-operated infrared thermometer, a motion-sensing camera and a small single-board computer called a raspberry pi. There is no human contact or intervention needed when it functions.

Thailand

Health certificates required of all visitors Bangkok Post 19th Mar 2020
Travelers to Thailand have to now show authorities a health certificate, issued no more than 72 hours before traveling, confirming that they have been tested and are free from the virus. They must also present an insurance policy showing minimum coverage for coronavirus of not less than US$100,000. It is unclear when the new measure will take effect and how it will be enforced at various border points. Since people cannot get tested for the virus in most places at the moment due to the high costs and shortages of test kits, the requirement is in effect a travel ban although the government stopped short of describing it as such.

Thai FDA Provides Fast Track Approval for the Manufacturing and Importing of Surgical Masks | Lexology Lexology 17th Mar 2020
On 11 March, the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) issued a public announcement that the FDA provides a fast track channel for business operators who wish to apply for the approval to manufacture or import surgical masks. This is to support the high demand for masks in the country due to the spread of COVID-19 and to facilitate business operators to obtain approvals as the FDA’s first priority.

Mandatory sim and app used to track down movement The Thaiger 17th Mar 2020
A free sim card is being provided by The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) to every foreigner as well as Thais who had have travelled from countries that have have been designated as ‘high risk’ of Covid-19 infections. The sim card will be used together with the AoT Airports application, to help track the position of users for 14 days to verify that they remain in quarantine. The app will track the position of the phone for 14 days and will alert authorities if it leaves the designated quarantine area. After 14 days have passed, it will stop tracking and the system will delete the data immediately.

PM Prayut observes anti-rabies activity, exhibition on supermarket cooperatives National News Bureau of Thailand 16th Mar 2020
The Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, took part in an activity to promote the "Disease-free Animals, Save Humans from Rabies" project. The Prime Minister attended the activity to promote the project, organized by Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. He warned the general public not to buy pets, particularly dogs, at stores without proper permits. The pets may be of inferior quality and may have health problems, and the owners may have to abandon them due to high medical costs. He instructed relevant units to enforce the law to prevent the issue of stray dogs strictly, because they can cause problems, such as diseases, for communities, tourist destinations and temples. The Prime Minister also urged supermarket cooperatives to sell more organic vegetables, fruit and meat. He instructed relevant agencies to help manage them, teach farmers about organic farming and market demand, and promote beef cattle farming. He also would like supermarket cooperatives to expand to all provinces nationwide.

Excise Department offers tax benefits for alcohol used to make hand sanitizers National News Bureau of Thailand 16th Mar 2020
The Excise Department has offered a tax exemption program for the processing of liqueur with 80% or more alcohol content to make hand sanitizers. A relaxation of ethanol sales regulations will be for 6 months to facilitate a capacity increase in the production of hand sanitizers amid the epidemic of COVID-19. The Excise Department Director General Patchara Anuatasilpa said the department announced on 6 March a special guideline for companies to file 0% excise tax for liqueur with 80% or more alcohol content that has been processed into an ingredient to make hand sanitizers. This special guideline allows liqueur companies to donate their alcohol for the making of hand sanitizers. The department is in the process of relaxing ethanol sale regulations, which will be valid until 30 September, specifically to help the production of hand sanitizing products.

32 new COVID-19 cases in Thailand’s biggest one day jump Thai PBS World 16th Mar 2020
Thailand reported 32 new COVID-19 cases today. This is the biggest jump so far in a single day, raising the number of infections in the country to 114. The Permanent Secretary said that he has repeatedly warned Thai people to delay their trips abroad, but his warning has not been heeded and not all of those who have returned from foreign trips have quarantined themselves, but have instead gone out and met other people, causing the contagion to spread. He also warned against visiting enclosed areas, such as pubs and bars, boxing stadia and restaurants.

400 billion baht stimulus announced to boost Thai economy The Thaiger 11th Mar 2020
Yesterday’s Thai cabinet meeting gave the greenlight to a new stimulus package. The government expects the approved 400 billion baht to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. Last week’s 2,000 baht cash stimulus proposal, which was largely roasted in Thai social media after being proposed by the economic ministers, isn’t included in yesterday’s approved package. The Kasikorn Research Centre has slashed its forecast for Thailand’s GDP growth this year to 0.5%. They believe the outbreak will wipe over 400 billion baht off tourism receipts. Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says the 400 billion baht package is a first-phase measure “that could be followed by second-phase action if the impact persists”. Meanwhile, the Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana believes the stimulus package will ease conditions for the public and businesses suffering from the impact of the virus. “The short-term measure will last for a few months, after which the Covid-19 situation will be assessed again.”

Better care centres, paternal leave urged Bangkok Post 9th Mar 2020
Women yesterday called for more daycare centres for young children as well as paternal leave -- which is now offered only to men in the civil service -- to be extended to all working fathers of new-born babies. The calls were made yesterday during a march in Bangkok by more than 500 workers led by a group of women rights activists to mark International Women's Day. Thanaphon Wichan, president of the Women Workers Unity Group, said daycare centres, which are run by government agencies, close before mothers are able to get to them to pick up their children. As a result, many mothers working in large cities including Bangkok are left with no choice but to send their children to their grandparents in their hometowns.

5G smart robots take care of coronavirus patients Bangkok Post 9th Mar 2020
Chulalongkorn University has joined forces with Advanced Info Service (AIS) to develop smart robots with 5G tech to monitor and take care of coronavirus patients and those under monitoring for the first time in Thailand. "We leveraged our 5G network in business districts for the use of smart robots to fight Covid-19," said Wasit Wattanasap, head of nationwide operations and support for AIS, using the technical jargon for the illness. The robots were assembled by the engineering and medicine faculties of Chulalongkorn University.

NHSO agrees to add COVID-19 to national healthcare National News Bureau of Thailand 8th Mar 2020
The board of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) has approved the inclusion COVID-19 in its health care coverage program which covers all stages from prevention to medical rehabilitation. The NHSO has approved the inclusion of COVID-19 in its health care program which covers prevention, awareness campaigns, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation for members of the national health program, also known as the Gold Card. Although the outbreak of the virus in Thailand is still in the second phase which indicates that no outbreak has occurred in the country, the NHSO needs to prepare budgets and measures to support the patients in order to build confidence among people and fully support the patient care commitment of its service units. For more information, please call the NHSO hotline 1330.

Tourism-driven Thailand softens 'compulsory' self-isolation language Reuters 6th Mar 2020
Officials in tourism-reliant Thailand sought on Friday to ease worries about new self-quarantine measures for arrivals from six countries and territories with coronavirus, a day after announcing compulsory isolation.  There had been days of confusion as officials gave different explanations of regulations that could further damage tourism, which accounts for about 12% of Thailand’s economy. South Korea, China, Macao, Hong Kong, Italy and Iran were designated on Thursday as “dangerous communicable disease areas”. Health Ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kiphati said that arrivals from these places would be fined 20,000 baht ($630) if they did not self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in a hotel room. On Friday, however, other health officials took a slightly softer line and recommedned that people people exercise home quarantine.

Thailand outlines US$3.2 billion stimulus to alleviate COVID-19 impact CNA 6th Mar 2020
Thailand on Friday (Mar 6) outlined a stimulus package, estimated to be worth more than US$3.2 billion, to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on activity in an already-flagging economy. Southeast Asia's second-largest economy is growing at its weakest pace in years due to soft exports and investment. The epidemic continues to hit tourism, which was a bright spot. The package, approved by the economic cabinet, includes cash handouts, soft loans and other financial assistance, and tax benefits, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana told reporters after a meeting of economic ministers. "It's a temporary, broad-based package to help various groups," he said.

Vietnam

Nine more COVID-19 infections confirmed, eight connected to Bạch Mai Hospital vietnamnews.vn 30th Mar 2020
Việt Nam's number of confirmed COVID-19 patients bypasses 200 late Monday, with seven being employees of Trường Sinh Company which provides services for Bạch Mai Hospital in Hà Nội, one of the country's top referral hospitals. The others are a patient at Bạch Mai Hospital and a Vietnamese returning from overseas.

Việt Nam to announce nationwide pandemic vietnamnews.vn 30th Mar 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc this afternoon agreed with the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control's proposal to announce a nationwide pandemic and required public transport to cease operations. The PM said this is a crucial time to fight COVID-19 and asked the political system and authorities at all levels to concentrate on the battle. He said social distancing is of the utmost importance to prevent the disease from spreading in the community.

Việt Nam confirms 123rd COVID-19 patient vietnamnews.vn 23rd Mar 2020
The health ministry of Việt Nam late Monday announced a 17-year-old Vietnamese girl that recently returned from Malaysia had tested positive for the coronavirus, making her the country’s 123rd COVID-19 case.

Vietnam now in third phase of COVID-19 combat: PM VietnamPlus 23rd Mar 2020
Vietnam is entering the third phase of the COVID-19 fight as risks of community spread are high, and the next 20 – 25 days are a big challenge to the country’s efforts in combating the disease, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on March 23. Chairing the meeting between the Government’s permanent members and the national steering committee for the COVID-19 fight, he said in this third phase, there are more people in quarantine. Requesting stronger actions, PM Phuc ordered close control of exit and entry by road, railway and air be continued, concentrated quarantine pushed ahead regardless of how much it costs the State, self-quarantine ensured in line with regulations, and safety for medical workers and other staff engaging in the combat guaranteed.

COVID-19 shows pressing need for quicker digital transformation vietnamnews.vn 21st Mar 2020
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng has urged digital companies to innovate and develop platforms for online services as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has sparked a pressing need for Việt Nam to hasten digital transformation. Hùng said the pandemic was posing considerable challenges but there were also opportunities. “COVID-19 helps us change our thinking. It is a breaking point in the development process and many habits will change,” he said. “This provides the biggest opportunity to accelerate digital transformation and bring socio-economic activities online.”

Việt Nam suspends foreign entry, starting March 22 vietnamnews.vn 21st Mar 2020
The Vietnamese Government late Saturday announced that it would temporarily halt entry to all foreigners, starting 00:00 March 22, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. This latest move was a drastic step up from a decision effective starting March 18 requiring that all foreign and Vietnamese entrants into Việt Nam would have to be quarantined for 14 days, given that the rising number of coronavirus positive cases in the country in recent days have mostly originated from returning Vietnamese and foreign tourists from European countries – especially the UK – which WHO has declared to be the new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health declaration app NCOVID surpasses Facebook as most downloaded in Vietnam VnExpress International 16th Mar 2020
NCOVID, a health reporting app launched by the government, has quickly become one of the most downloaded apps by both iOS and Android users. One week after the app was introduced, it pushed Facebook to the second spot on Apple Store in Vietnam and was in sixth place on Google Play on Friday. On Monday, the app remains on top on Vietnam's Apple Store and has climbed to third place on Google Play. The app was created by the Ministries of Information and Communications and Health for universal health declaration and disseminating information about the Covid-19 epidemic.

Symposium introduces new approach in diabetes type 2 management vietnamnews.vn 16th Mar 2020
Health scientists and doctors exchanged new approaches in the application of SGLT2 inhibitors in management of diabetes type 2 at an online symposium held by the HCM City Diabetes and Endocrinology Association and AstraZeneca last week in HCM City. SGLT2 inhibitor is a class of medications that inhibit the reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys and therefore lower blood sugar. SGLT2 inhibitors are used in the treatment of type II diabetes mellitus. The symposium focused discussion on DECLARE clinical study, which clearly reduced proteinuria progression on diabetes type 2 through medicine with SGLT2i class. The new approach can help their kidneys revert to a healthy stage early.

TB prevention needs joint efforts: meeting VietnamPlus 9th Mar 2020
Detecting tuberculosis (TB) cases at an early date requires efforts of not only the health sector but also the entire community, heard a meeting of the National Steering Committee for TB Prevention and Control in Hanoi on March 9. Delegates shared the views that new equipment, drugs, vaccines and approaches would support the early detection and treatment. They agreed on the need to step up strategic solutions, create breakthroughs in relevant laws and policies, enhance international cooperation, and intensify the communication work. By 2020, Vietnam expects to reduce 20 percent of TB infections and 40 percent of TB mortalities.

Compulsory health declarations for all in Vietnam VietnamPlus 9th Mar 2020
Deputy Prime Minister and head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control Vu Duc Dam on March 8 requested compulsory health declarations for all citizens in the country to start on March 10 at the latest. He made the announcement at a meeting of the committee in Hanoi. He asked the Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Health, Vietnam Social Security and all network providers to plan and prepare technological tools so the declarations can be done online across the country. The Deputy PM also requested measures to be applied to prevent Vietnamese citizens from leaving the countries and travelling to countries where COVID-19 infection has been reported, and advised citizens to only travel abroad when absolutely necessary.

Woman in Hà Nội tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 vietnamnews.vn 7th Mar 2020
A 27-year-old woman in Hà Nội tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after returning from Europe, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology confirmed on Friday night. At an urgent meeting on Friday night, the city’s Department of Health proposed the health ministry and immigration management department provide a list of people on the same flight with the patient to follow up on their health status.

Ministry of Health launches Centre for COVID 19 Outbreak Control Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 6th Mar 2020
The Vietnam Telemedicine Centre for COVID-19 Outbreak Control was launched on March 5 in Hanoi by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with VMED Group to apply 4.0 digital healthcare solutions in the war against COVID-19 and other future epidemics. The centre (located at the Medical Services Administration of the Ministry of Health) will use CLAS Healthcare electronic medical records to care for all COVID-19 patients. It will also run PACS software and real-time clinical data transmission software from all treatment facilities to Support Centres and Command Centres located at leading hospitals such as Cho Ray in Ho Chi Minh City and Bach Mai in Hanoi. All of these software will integrate with medical devices such as CARESCAPE R860 ventillator and CARESCAPE B450 patient monitor from GE Healthcare that are provided by VietMedical (a member of VMED Group).

Medical declaration required for anyone to enter Việt Nam vietnamnews.vn 6th Mar 2020
Everyone entering Việt Nam from abroad will have to complete a medical declaration form to enter the country from 6am on Saturday. The new regulation to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) applies to both foreigners and Vietnamese nationals. Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, also head of the national steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control, made the announcement in a meeting on Friday of the steering committee. Earlier, the Ministry of Health (MoH) called for medical declarations for visitors coming from or travelling through the European Union (EU) and Cambodia from after 11.59pm on Friday.

HCM City banks on digital innovation, transformation in healthcare vietnamnews.vn 5th Mar 2020
Digital innovations such as blockchain, cloud-based computing, virtual health, artificial intelligence and robotics, digital reality, and the Internet of Medical Things are key to improving healthcare services, according to a Deloitte Global report titled 2019 Global Healthcare Outlook: Shaping the Future. The report, released recently, said digital technologies could help solve today’s problems and build a sustainable foundation for affordable, accessible, high-quality healthcare. But adopting many of these innovations requires capabilities that fall beyond the traditional purview of healthcare organisations. It is vital to build eco-systems that embrace non-traditional players and sources of knowledge outside their own four walls, experts said.