Health & Life Sciences Update: April 20, 2020

Health & Life Science Update | April 20, 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, ASEAN countries are looking toward expanding regional cooperation efforts for additional support to contain the pandemic. On April 7, Health Ministers of ASEAN Member States joined both the Special Video Conference of the ASEAN Health Ministers and the ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers in Enhancing Cooperation on COVID-19, reaffirming the commitment to cooperate and contain the pandemic. On April 9, ASEAN foreign ministers agreed in the 25th ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Meeting, held via videoconference, to establish a COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund to help all member states alleviate the impact of the pandemic. Following the meeting, on April 14, during the Special ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit held virtually, ASEAN members and China, Japan and South Korea agreed in principle to set up the joint fund to combat the pandemic. Although the meeting did not specify an amount, the money for the fund would be reallocated from existing ASEAN+1 and APT cooperation funds, such as the ASEAN Development Fund. The fund would be used to procure equipment and medical supplies for frontline workers and medics and to finance long-term research and development into antiviral drugs and vaccines. On the same day, Vietnam chaired the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19, coordinating an ASEAN plan to fight the pandemic by utilizing ASEAN resources and network.

Individually, ASEAN countries are increasingly employing digital and AI technology in the medical response to the pandemic. The Indonesia Government is directing people to healthtech startups that provide consultations via video, phone or text and deliver medicines while the AIA Thailand, Thailand-based True Corporation, and Thai hospital network Samitivej launch a Virtual COVID-19 clinic to diagnose people with COVID-19 symptoms or having high risk of infection. Malaysia and Thailand are also cooperating with China-based Huawei to develop AI-assisted solutions and 5G technology to enable accurate and fast diagnostic results for COVID-19. In addition, the International Islamic University Malaysia and Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University have launched their respective “Medibot” and “Ninja” robot to facilitate remote communication between patients and medics and to reduce frontline workers’ exposure to infection.

ASEAN countries are also ramping up production and procurement of medical supplies and medicines. Indonesia Industry Minister on April 6 announced that 35 companies in Indonesia were preparing to produce personal protective gears (PPEs), followed by the announcement of various private actors including state-owned weapons manufacturer PT Pindad and electronics manufacturer PT LEN Industri to produce ventilators. On April 8, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration released a circular on Interim Guidelines on the Manufacture of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Ventilators, and Respirators in light of COVID-19 Situation to fast track local production of medical supplies. Thailand Board of Investment on April 13 approved additional privileges for medical devices and related industries, with a reduction in corporate income tax by 50% for three years.

Asia-Pacific Healthtech Funding Declines, Surges in Sectors Related to COVID-19 in Q1 2020

Singapore-based Galen Growth Asia recently released their Asia-Pacific healthtech funding Q1 2020 statistic, noting that healthtech funding decreased by 56 percent year-on-year, totaling US$703 million across 68 deals. According to Galen Growth Asia’s 2019 report, healthtech funding in Asia-Pacific in 2019 reached a total of US$5.17 billion. Despite the overall decline, sectors related to addressing COVID-19 achieved significant growth, reflecting the reliance on healthtech startups to alleviate the pressure on the healthcare system. Singapore-based startup Doctor Anywhere on April 4 secured a US$27 million Series B financing round led by Australia-based Square Peg, EDBI, and IHH Healthcare. The funding will allow the startup to expand its operation, which is already in Vietnam and recently launched in Thailand. Doctor Anywhere helps users consult a licensed local doctor digitally, documents users’ medical history and reports within the mobile application and delivers medication. Vietnam-based healthtech startup eDoctor has also raised more than US$1 million in a new funding round from Japan’s CyberAgent Capital and Genesia Ventures, and South Korea-based Bon Angels and Nextrans. eDoctor allows users to send requests to doctors, and book health checkups and test services that can be conducted at their homes. The startup claims to have connected users with more than 500 nurses and over 400 doctors as well as 80 hospitals and clinics across the country and to have built a website that allows users to access real-time data about COVID-19.

In Indonesia, the government is incorporating healthtech startups into the national healthcare system by directing the public to telehealth firms through which the public can access verified medical guidance via video, telephone, or text. Consequently, Indonesia's largest telehealth firms, including Alodokter, Halodoc and GrabHealth, a joint venture between Singapore ride-hailer Grab and China-based Ping An Good Doctor, have seen usage skyrocket over the past month. Alodokter clocked 32 million website visitors in March and over 500,000 free coronavirus consultations since Indonesia's first confirmed case on March 2. Grabhealth said daily consultations had nearly doubled to 10,000.

Philippine Government to Reprioritize “Build, Build, Build” Program to Health Infrastructure

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Government is considering changing the focus of the ambitious infrastructure program “Build, Build, Build” to prioritize health infrastructure. Philippine presidential adviser for flagship programs and projects Vivencio Dizon and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III recently said the Philippine Government would sustain massive infrastructure buildup to facilitate the immediate recovery of the economy once the pandemic is contained. They also noted that the infrastructure buildup would have to focus on long-term healthcare infrastructure, given the current priorities to contain the COVID-19 pandemic which will linger for a long time. Previously, the “Build, Build, Build” program was an infrastructure construction campaign focusing on building roads, railways, airports and bridges, proposed by President Duterte in his 2016 presidential election bid. The program has 100 flagship projects worth US$86 billion to be financed by national budget, the private sector, and multilateral and bilateral development partners.

As the pandemic continues, multilateral lenders such as the Japan-led Asian Development Bank (ADB), China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, and World Bank and the IMF are shifting funding away from connectivity and transportation infrastructure to COVID-19 response programs, helping borrower countries worldwide to fight the disease and support vulnerable sectors. The World Bank has announced a US$14 billion package to support companies and countries amid the pandemic while the ADB announced a US$6.5 billion initial package in March.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Vietnam Ministry of Health Draft Circular on Medical Equipment Procurement

The Department of Medical Equipment and Construction (DMEC) under the Ministry of Health of Vietnam (MOH) has drafted a Circular on Medical Equipment Procurement ("Draft Circular") and is currently collecting input and feedback from industry. Kindly find attached the Draft Circular in VNE. The Council is seeking financial support (US$600) to commission a translation of the Draft Circular to share with members. 

Please send your comments to Thao Nguyen (tnguyen@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org) by Wednesday, April 22, 2020 (in both ENG and VNE). Following this deadline, the Council will consolidate the comments and create a final submission to share with MOH DMEC. 

Suggestions on Measures Against COVID-19 to the ASEAN Member States Ministry of Health

The Council is sending a letter to the respective Ministry of Health of each ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretary General to provide some recommendations to further expedite national and international response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend (1) Adjusting health and macroeconomic policies to boost health care capacity; (2) Ensuring the availability of essential medical supplies through streamlining and reducing regulatory inefficiencies; (3) Ensuring continued care for non COVID-19 patients; and (4) Enhancing intergovernmental cooperation and communication between the private sector and governments. Please find the letter attached here and direct any questions and comments to Thao Nguyen (tnguyen@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org)

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Asia-Pacific healthtech funding plunged 56% to $703m in Q1

ASEAN
Response Fund to be created by Asean to cushion COVID-19’s impact in the region
ASEAN, US enhance co-operation in COVID-19 fight

Brunei
No new cases as five more recover in Brunei
Health product found adulterated
Brunei secures medical equipment with special help

Cambodia
Pharmacies struggle to stock goods amid virus fears
Ministry vows better regulation against illicit trade of pharmaceuticals

Indonesia
Indonesia reports biggest daily rise in coronavirus cases
Indonesia Ramps Up Virus Testing as New Infections Surge
Indonesian dentists walk on tightrope as practices forced to close due to COVID-19
Amid pandemic, a turning point for telemedicine
Dengue fever kills at least six people in North Maluku
Indonesia's hospitals asked to notify PPE shortage to health offices
Covid-19: Indonesia leans on healthtech startups to cope with virus surge
State-owned weapons, electronics manufacturers to produce ventilators for COVID-19 patients
PTDI, Indofarma, universities working on ventilator prototypes
35 manufacturers ramp up capacity to produce COVID-19 protective gear
Dengue Fever Claims 254 Indonesian Lives amid COVID-19 Outbreak
COVID-19: IDI calls for govt to improve healthcare facilities in regions prone to infections

Laos
Vietnam assists Laos to fight Covid-19 with medical supplies
WHO Organizes Training Session for Lao Medical Professionals
International medical supply donations assist Covid-19 prevention
Help curb dengue spread, health sector asks public
Covid-19: private hospitals and clinics ordered to close
China-Laos satellite joint venture joins fight against Covid-19

Malaysia
MoH received 2,309 calls, 252 Whatsapp messages seeking counselling services in two-week period
Malaysia’s daily recoveries top new infections for fifth time with 168 cases against 134
'Medibot' to do rounds on Malaysian virus wards
Malaysia to use AI solution to combat COVID-19 pandemic
A Consortium of labs launches COVID-19 screening programme in Malaysia
Malaysia sees biggest single-day rise in recoveries, exceeds new infections for first time
Insurance and takaful industry announces details on Covid-19 test fund

Myanmar
Myanmar eyeing investment projects involving masks and pharmaceuticals
Quarantine period increased to 21, commercial flight arrivals suspended until April 30: DASSK
Myanmar Pharma Firm Donates Device to Massively Increase COVID-19 Testing

Philippines
IATF backs lifting of deployment ban on health staff with contracts
Gov’t to revamp ‘Build, Build, Build’
Modified lockdown proposed
DOH: 11 patients recover from COVID-19 as cases soar to 3,764
job losses from virus to hit 200 million–ILO report
With private-public tie-up, PHL can make ‘medical-grade’ PPEs
FDA Advisory No. 2020-547 || Updated Procedure for FDA Clearance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Prior to Customs Release
Govt opens platform to speed up medical imports
Imports needed for COVID-19 fight declared tax-exempt

Singapore
All 20 polyclinics and some GPs can now perform coronavirus swab test
Prolong usage of PPE induces headaches in Frontline healthcare workers
Singapore uncovers cancer-causing hereditary mutation in Asians
Medtech firm Biolidics allowed to sell COVID-19 test kit in EU
Singapore-based Doctor Anywhere bags $27m Series B funding

Thailand
BoI ramps up privileges for local medical equipment
MDES joins hands with HUAWEI, provides 5G solution and AI Technology
Covid-19 hastening end to unwanted pregnancies
Thailand News: Free treatment for all virus patients
New virus app a powerful tool
Dengue fever an added threat to lives
CP ready to start producing masks now that materials have arrived
Rajavithi offers telemedicine service through app
NBTC begins funding of 41 hospitals
'Ninja' robots to help treat infected
AIA Thailand partners with True Digital Group and Samitivej to launch Virtual COVID-19 Clinic
Academic hails health charter as key to stemming virus outbreak
Covid-19 now covered by Bt30 health scheme

Vietnam
Private medical facilities allowed to offer COVID-19 tests: Government
Four new COVID-19 cases reported, total number rises to 245
Việt Nam actively helps foreign representative agencies protect citizens
Gov't issues instructions on implementation of stay-at-home order
Gov’t considering unprecedented US$2.6b support package for Vietnamese hit by COVID-19
Vietnam's health-tech startup eDoctor raises funding from Japanese, S Korean VCs
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Asia-Pacific healthtech funding plunged 56% to $703m in Q1 Health Care Asia Magazine 8th Apr 2020
Asia-Pacific's healthtech funding dropped 56% YoY to $703m across 68 deals in Q1 2020, according to data from Galen Growth Asia. "Unlike the USA, the reality of the pandemic struck Asia in January, which implemented measures earlier and significantly impacted its digital health funding momentum," the report noted. Three of the six clusters that outperformed the ecosystem were relevant to addressing COVID-19. In particular, telemedicine recorded the biggest YoY deal value increase, skyrocketing 8.5 times. Deal value in patient solutions firms rose 18%, whilst funding for medical diagnostics fell 42%.

ASEAN

Response Fund to be created by Asean to cushion COVID-19’s impact in the region Khmer Times 10th Apr 2020
In the 25th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting via video conference Thursday, ASEAN foreign ministers agreed on the establishment of a response to help all member states alleviate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The objectives behind the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, according to a press release from Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, is to mobilise financial resources to address the shortage in medical supplies and to support the research and development of COVID-19. The fund also aims to prepare the member state for responding to future emergencies.

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.

Brunei

No new cases as five more recover in Brunei The Star Online 13th Apr 2020
No new Covid-19 cases were reported with the total number in the country standing at 136. Five more cases treated at the National Isolation Centre have recovered and were allowed to go home. This brings the total number of recoveries to 104. Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham revealed these details at a press conference in Bandar Seri Begawan on April 12. “Thirty one cases are receiving treatment at the National Isolation Centre where two are still in a critical condition with both needing ventilators and additional heart/lung machine (ECMO). “The remaining cases are in a stable condition, ” Dr Haji Mohd Isham said. He said 2,317 persons have completed the quarantine in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Act, Chapter 204 with 75 individuals still under quarantine. “Within the last 24 hours, 295 samples have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 bringing the total number of laboratory tests conducted since January 2020 to 9,637, ” he said.

Health product found adulterated Borneo Bulletin 10th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Health (MoH) alerted members of the public of a health product found to be adulterated with undeclared, potent western medicines tested by the Laboratory of Pharmacy Section, Department of Scientific Services, MoH. The affected health product is Evo-7 Japan Sachet, manufactured by Evo Freedom International Sdn Bhd, found adulterated with Tadalafil.

Brunei secures medical equipment with special help Borneo Bulletin 6th Apr 2020
With Brunei among the countries in a bidding war to secure medical equipment and supplies from China, questions were raised on the issue of whether orders made by the Sultanate are safe from being hijacked as reports have surfaced of other countries experiencing such incidents. Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar added that despite the challenges of having the medical equipment hijacked a number of times, the Ministry of Health now has quite a number of ventilators.

Cambodia

Pharmacies struggle to stock goods amid virus fears Khmer Times 3rd Apr 2020
Since the beginning of this year, cases have spread from where the outbreak was first recorded in China’s Wuhan city to other countries, including Cambodia, with 110 confirmed cases as of yesterday. Many pharmacies are running out of medical equipment and supplies such as masks, gloves, handsanitisers and medication amid skyrocketting prices due to novel coronavirus fears.

Ministry vows better regulation against illicit trade of pharmaceuticals Khmer Times 1st Apr 2020
The Ministry of Health said it would strengthen regulation of the sale of pharmaceutical drugs, medical equipment and disinfectants, including prohibiting the sale of such products online. The announcement follows the discovery of unlicensed medicines and COVID-19 rapid test kits and counterfeit sanitisers being sold online. In a statement, the ministry said that while the Kingdom grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, several people have taken to selling unregistered medical products on social media to profit from the health crisis.

Indonesia

Indonesia reports biggest daily rise in coronavirus cases Bangkok Post 14th Apr 2020
Indonesia on Monday confirmed 218 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily jump since the first cases were announced a month ago, taking the total number of infections to 2,491, a Health Ministry official said. Achmad Yurianto, the official, said that 11 deaths had been recorded, taking the total to 209, while 192 people had recovered.

Indonesia Ramps Up Virus Testing as New Infections Surge Bloomberg 13th Apr 2020
Indonesia’s government is ramping up its coronavirus testing capacity and expanding the partial lockdown to areas outside the capital after facing criticism for having one of the region’s lowest testing rates per capita. President Joko Widodo said the country will increase its testing capacity by 9,000 samples per day while regulators extended stricter social distancing measures, which includes closing offices, a ban on gatherings of more than five people and limiting transportation services to some satellite cities outside Jakarta to contain the spread of the deadly disease.

Indonesian dentists walk on tightrope as practices forced to close due to COVID-19 The Jakarta Post 13th Apr 2020
As dozens of doctors and medical workers have been exposed and killed fighting the outbreak, dentists were also putting their lives on the line as the Indonesian Dentists Association (PDGI) announced that at least six dentists had died due to the pneumonia-like illness. PDGI chair Sri Hananto Seno said dental and oral examination left patients, dentists and assistants vulnerable to contracting the disease as they were exposed to droplets, which were the main method of transmission.

Amid pandemic, a turning point for telemedicine The Jakarta Post 12th Apr 2020
The crisis has highlighted the value of telemedicine, long touted as a way to deliver medical care to people in underserved areas and to deal more efficiently with issues ranging from minor emergencies to mental health. "A crisis sometimes ends up giving you an incentive to change things," said Preeti Malani, a University of Michigan professor of medicine who led a 2019 survey of telemedicine for older adults. A year ago, Malani said, the survey showed many older adults had little knowledge or interest in telemedicine, but the situation has now changed dramatically.

Dengue fever kills at least six people in North Maluku The Jakarta Post 11th Apr 2020
At least six people have died of dengue fever in North Maluku so far this year. According to North Maluku Health Agency data for the first quarter of the year, the fatalities were recorded from Jan. 3 to March 3 in three regencies of the province. Rosita Alkatiri, the agency’s head of disease prevention and control, said on Saturday that three deaths were reported in Morotai Island regency, two in West Halmahera and one in North Halmahera. The province recorded 175 dengue fever cases in the first three months of the year. “There were 67 patients in January, 77 in February and 31 in March,” Rosita, who is also the North Maluku COVID-19 task force spokesperson, told news agency Antara.

Indonesia's hospitals asked to notify PPE shortage to health offices Antara News 11th Apr 2020
COVID-19 Mitigation Acceleration Task Force Head Doni Monardo emphasized that local general hospitals (RSUD) nationwide encountering a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other healthcare equipment can notify their respective province’s health offices. In response, the health office will contact the Task Force to get the equipment, Monardo told ANTARA here on Saturday. "Local hospitals should bring to the notice of the provincial health office any problems, such as a shortage of PPE. The health office will thereafter contact the Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Handling," he remarked.

Covid-19: Indonesia leans on healthtech startups to cope with virus surge The Star Online 10th Apr 2020
As coronavirus cases surge in Indonesia, doctors are working double-time treating patients both at hospitals and online through healthtech startups — an approach that is quickly becoming part of the national healthcare system. To lessen the strain, the government is directing the public to so-called telehealth firms through which they can access verified medical guidance, get free doctor consultations via video, telephone or text, and even have medication prescribed and delivered.

State-owned weapons, electronics manufacturers to produce ventilators for COVID-19 patients The Jakarta Post 9th Apr 2020
State-owned weapons manufacturer PT Pindad and electronics manufacturer PT LEN Industri are developing and planning to mass-produce ventilators to help hospitals handle COVID-19 patients, officials said. Pindad has developed a ventilator prototype and is currently seeking medical certification from the Health Ministry’s Health Equipment Monitoring Agency (BPPK), the company’s president director, Abraham Mose, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. “We have tested it in our hospital in Bandung and it’s already operational. Once we receive the green light from the BPPK, we will be able to produce 40 ventilators per day,” he said.

PTDI, Indofarma, universities working on ventilator prototypes The Jakarta Post 8th Apr 2020
State-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), pharmaceutical firm Indofarma and local universities are developing ventilator prototypes to help meet skyrocketing demand for the crucial medical equipment to treat coronavirus patients. Carmakers are also readying their factories to switch production lines to the manufacture of ventilators. PTDI president director Elfien Goentoro told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the aerospace company planned to mass-produce one of five ventilator prototypes currently being tested by the Health Ministry. The prototypes were produced in collaboration with universities and other institutions.

35 manufacturers ramp up capacity to produce COVID-19 protective gear The Jakarta Post 7th Apr 2020
Indonesian industries are ramping up their capacity to produce the medical equipment required to combat COVID-19 and will potentially export the products to other countries if there is an excess, a minister has said. Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita said on Monday that 35 companies were preparing produce, together, about 18.3 million pieces of protective gear by early May, consisting of 1.2 million medical-grade pieces of gear made of polypropylene plastics and over 17 million pieces of non-medical grade gear made of cotton, nylon and polyester.

Dengue Fever Claims 254 Indonesian Lives amid COVID-19 Outbreak Tempo 7th Apr 2020
The Indonesian Health Ministry recorded 254 deaths nationwide due to dengue fever since early in January of this year with two provinces sustaining the most number of casualties. “West Java and East Nusa Tenggara are provinces that need to be watched for dengue fever as both equally have a high number of cases,” said the Ministry’s Director of Vector Infection Disease Prevention and Control, Siti Tarmidzi on Monday.

COVID-19: IDI calls for govt to improve healthcare facilities in regions prone to infections The Jakarta Post 6th Apr 2020
The Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) has called on the government to increase healthcare capacities in regions outside Jakarta. IDI chair Daeng M. Faqih said that if the country could not stop the transmission of the coronavirus, the number of COVID-19 patients might overwhelm the healthcare system. In Indonesia, data shows that COVID-19 positive cases have been increasing by about 100 a day but concerns over slow testing procedures may suggest there are more cases than that recorded.

Laos

Vietnam assists Laos to fight Covid-19 with medical supplies The Star Online 4th Apr 2020
Medical materials from Vietnam arrived in Lao capital Vientiane by a chartered plane on Saturday morning (April 4) to assist Laos to fight against the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The supplies including 333,000 standard face mask, 1,000 of protective clothing sets, and some medical equipment, which is worth over US$300,000, Laos News Agency (KPL) reported on Saturday. A receiving ceremony was held at the Wattay International Airport in Vientiane capital, attended by Laoa deputy prime minister and chair of the Task Force Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Somdy Douangdy, and Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos, Nguyen Ba Hung.

WHO Organizes Training Session for Lao Medical Professionals Laotian Times 12th Apr 2020
The World Health Organization (WHO) has sponsored a COVID-19 training session for over 30 Lao medical professionals from central and district hospitals in Vientiane Capital. On 11 April, WHO experts held a training session for 30 Vientiane medical professionals on how to properly manage and treat COVID-19 patients. The professionals were also trained on how to utilize personal protective equipment (PPE).

International medical supply donations assist Covid-19 prevention Vientiane Times 9th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Health has welcomed a donation of medical supplies worth about US117,500 to assist Laos’ efforts to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19 from ICBC Bank. The donation of medical supplies including 150,000 face masks and other essential medical equipment for use in the fight against Covid-19 were handed over to Minister of Health Associate Professor Dr Bounkong Syhavong on Wednesday in Vientiane.

Help curb dengue spread, health sector asks public Vientiane Times 7th Apr 2020
Health Authorities are urging people to clear potential mosquito breeding sites around their homes and workplaces to help control the spread of dengue fever. Activities are focused on long-term prevention rather than solely treatment and are vital to combating the disease, a senior official from the Vientiane Health Department said.

Covid-19: private hospitals and clinics ordered to close KPL 6th Apr 2020
Minister of Health Bounkong Sihavong has issued a notice ordering the closure of private hospitals and clinics nationwide as the country is entering a complete lockdown. (Full document in Lao in article)

China-Laos satellite joint venture joins fight against Covid-19 The Star Online 2nd Apr 2020
The Lao Asia Pacific Satellite (LaosAT), a joint venture between China and Laos, has donated 100 million kip (some US$11,000) to the Lao government to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Somdy Douangdy, Lao deputy prime minister and chair of the Task Force Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, expressed gratitude for the donation on Wednesday, and said the Lao government will make full use of the donated resources to fight the pandemic.

Malaysia

MoH received 2,309 calls, 252 Whatsapp messages seeking counselling services in two-week period The Edge Markets 13th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Health (MoH) reported on April 13 that it has received 2,309 phone calls and 252 Whatsapp messages within a span of about two weeks, between March 28 to April 12, seeking counselling services.  However, health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah updated that as of 4.30pm today, there have been an additional 150 more calls and over 1,000 Whatsapp messages received. He cited three main reasons people had reached out to the ministry. "The first is related to emotional, psychological, and counselling support for them to cope with the current Movement Control Order (MCO) situation for Phase 1, 2 and the upcoming third phase. Second is regarding the need for aid as well as donations. And the third is inquiries for more information on Covid-19," Noor Hisham told a press conference. On March 27, volunteer relief organisation Mercy Malaysia, in collaboration with the Health Ministry's Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC), had set up a free and dedicated mental health hotline to provide emotional support and counselling services to those who need help in dealing with their anxiety during the MCO period.  The hotline is a non-clinical service for the public and aimed to support the ministry in addressing mental health issues since most of the ministry’s counsellors have been assigned to hospitals to support the frontline medical staff.

Malaysia’s daily recoveries top new infections for fifth time with 168 cases against 134 The Edge Markets 13th Apr 2020
Malaysia’s daily recoveries top new infections for fifth time with 168 daily cases against 134 on April 13. Total Covid-19 cases in Malaysia now at 4,817. One more person dies, raising death toll to 77.

'Medibot' to do rounds on Malaysian virus wards The Jakarta Post 13th Apr 2020
Malaysian scientists have created a barrel-shaped robot on wheels that they hope will make the rounds on hospital wards to check on coronavirus patients, reducing health workers' risk of infection. "Medibot" is a 1.5 meter tall white robot, equipped with a camera and screen via which patients can communicate remotely with medics. The invention, built by scientists at the International Islamic University Malaysia, is also fitted with a device to check patients' temperatures remotely.

Malaysia to use AI solution to combat COVID-19 pandemic BioSpectrumAsia 13th Apr 2020
Huawei Malaysia has joined hands with the Malaysia Ministry of Health to contribute Huawei Cloud AI-assisted Diagnosis solution to Sungai Buloh Hospital to empower local medical personnel with AI capabilities by providing an AI solution for CT image analysis of possible COVID-19 patients. The Huawei Cloud AI-assisted quantitative medical image analysis system, which was used to help handle the COVID-19 situation around the world, can analyze hundreds of CT images in seconds, precisely locating lesions, and doctors can now provide diagnosis results in just one minute.

A Consortium of labs launches COVID-19 screening programme in Malaysia BioSpectrumAsia 9th Apr 2020
Malaysia’s leading private laboratory network, the consortium of three associated laboratories namely Gribbles Pathology (Malaysia), Quantum Diagnostics and Clinipath Malaysia (collectively the “Consortium”), on 8 April 2020 announced the launch of the country’s largest COVID-19 collection and testing programme to assist the country’s effort to ‘flatten the curve’. With the widest collection centre network and the largest testing capacity in the country, the participating laboratories will soon be able to conduct over 5,000 tests daily with 24-hour turnaround time. Patients will have access to reliable and quicker testing at an affordable price.

Malaysia sees biggest single-day rise in recoveries, exceeds new infections for first time The Edge Markets 6th Apr 2020
For the first time ever, the number of cured Covid-19 cases in Malaysia exceeded new infections. The Ministry of Health (MoH) announced 131 new confirmed Covid-19 cases as of noon on April 6, raising the tally to 3,793 cases. This is 48 fewer cases than 179 reported the day before. Meanwhile, 236 patients have recovered and were discharged, bringing the total number of cured cases to 1,241, or 32.72% of overall Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, said the MoH. The number of cured patients sets a new a record — the previous was 122 reported last Thursday (April 2), in the initial part of the Movement Control Order’s (MCO) second phase. Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement that 102 patients are currently being treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) with 54 requiring respiratory assistance. The country’s death toll increased to 62 after one more fatality was recorded today, bringing the mortality rate to 1.63%. A total of 55,566 individuals have been tested for Covid-19 infections, of whom 8,109 are currently awaiting results while 43,664 are confirmed negative. Selangor remains the state with the highest number of cases at 970, followed by Kuala Lumpur (640), Johor (468) and Sabah (240).

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.

Myanmar

Myanmar eyeing investment projects involving masks and pharmaceuticals The Star Online 11th Apr 2020
The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) is planning to accept investment projects in manufacturing masks, pharmaceuticals and others which can contribute to the fight against the Covid-19 in the country, state-run media reported Saturday (April 11). At present, of the investment proposals, the industry and labour-based businesses are prioritised by the commission over other sectors, Director-General Thant Sin Lwin of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration was quoted as saying. Submission of the investment proposals to the commission is not affected, with no decrease in number amid the Covid-19 outbreak, he added.

Quarantine period increased to 21, commercial flight arrivals suspended until April 30: DASSK The Myanmar Times 11th Apr 2020
Those who test positive for COVID-19 will now be quarantined for 21 days, up from 14 days before, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi announced on her Facebook account on April 10. All international commercial flight arrivals have also been suspended until April 30. This supercedes a March 29 announcement from the Ministry of Health and Sports and Department of Civil Aviation, disallowing all international commercial passenger flights from landing at all Myanmar airports from March 30 to April 13.

Myanmar Pharma Firm Donates Device to Massively Increase COVID-19 Testing The Irrawaddy 6th Apr 2020
Myanmar’s largest pharmaceutical distribution company donated a new COVID-19 testing machine to the country’s health ministry on Sunday that can run more than 1,400 tests per day, a major increase from the government’s current testing capacity of around 80 tests per day. The donation is one of many by conglomerates in the country, as companies have donated medical supplies such as masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as money to support the government in combatting the spread of COVID-19.

Philippines

IATF backs lifting of deployment ban on health staff with contracts BusinessMirror 14th Apr 2020
Filipino medical workers with already existing contracts may soon be allowed to work abroad. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Monday recommended the lifting of the deployment ban imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for 14 medical occupations. Under the recommendation, those with existing perfected employment contracts will be able to leave. On April 2, 2020, the POEA governing board issued Resolution No. 9, series of 2020, temporarily suspending the deployment of OFWs under 14 medical occupations, including doctors and nurses, until the lifting of the national state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus disease.

Gov’t to revamp ‘Build, Build, Build’ Inquirer 13th Apr 2020
In light of the socioeconomic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program may be reconfigured to prioritize health infrastructure and address potential funding issues. Presidential adviser for flagship programs and projects Vivencio Dizon told the Inquirer last week that he agreed with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III’s earlier pronouncement that the administration would sustain massive infrastructure buildup to facilitate immediate recovery of the domestic economy once COVID-19 has been contained.

Modified lockdown proposed Philippine Star 8th Apr 2020
s Luzon braces for an extended enhanced community quarantine, a “modified lockdown” should be considered to ensure smoother delivery of basic goods and allow some businesses to reopen and serve communities, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said yesterday. In a televised interview, Pernia said restrictions on the entry of cargoes of fresh produce and other agricultural goods from the provinces should be eased to support agricultural activity and ensure sufficient food supply while a quarantine aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is in effect. President Duterte has approved the extension of the quarantine until April 30. This was meant to further contain the spread of COVID-19, as the health sector steps up efforts to increase its capacity to embark on massive testing beginning on April 14.

DOH: 11 patients recover from COVID-19 as cases soar to 3,764 Philippine Star 8th Apr 2020
Eleven more COVID-19 positive persons have recovered from the illness, the Department of Health (DOH) reported Tuesday. It is the highest recorded recoveries in a day since the first case was documented in the country in January. This raised the total number of recoveries to 84 although DOH also verified 104 additional cases of COVID-19 in the country, boosting the tally to 3,764 as of April 7. On the other hand, DOH said 14 people infected with the respiratory illness have died with the toll now reaching 177.

job losses from virus to hit 200 million–ILO report Business Mirror 8th Apr 2020
GLOBAL business disruptions and the economic slowdown caused by the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) are now expected to cost around 200 million workers their jobs, based on latest estimates of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The new figure is eight times more than the ILO’s initial estimates when the pandemic was just starting to spread.This has led the labor arm of the United Nations to tag the pandemic disease as the worst global crisis since World War II in terms of employment losses. In its second monitoring report on the impact of Covid-19 on the world of work, ILO issued a bleaker forecast for workers this year, saying the pandemic could cause “catastrophic” displacement of 195 million full-time employees, mostly in the accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.The Asia and the Pacific region is expected to suffer the biggest job losses at 125 million full-time workers. It was followed by Europe with 12 million and the Arab states with 5 million. In its initial report last month, ILO estimated the business effects of Covid-19 to spell the retrenchment of only around 25 million workers.

With private-public tie-up, PHL can make ‘medical-grade’ PPEs BusinessMirror 7th Apr 2020
THE Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday it is working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), industry associations, and private firms to locally manufacture personal protective equipment (PPEs) to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. A group of local manufacturers will soon be producing an estimated 10,000 medical-grade PPE coveralls daily to help address the shortage of the said item, a lack that has been blamed for the high rate of deaths—including at least 17 doctors—among frontliners attending to virus-stricken patients. In an online press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (Conwep) is set to start the production of the PPEs next week.

FDA Advisory No. 2020-547 || Updated Procedure for FDA Clearance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Prior to Customs Release Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines 6th Apr 2020
Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, the following updated measures are adopted for the expedient release of certain protective equipment (PPE) withn the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs. The PPE include: Face masks including N95 masks; Shoe Covers; Gloves; Head Covers, and Gowns. For the abovementioned PPE intended for entry to the local market for commercial use, the presentation of the copy of the importer’s License to Operate (LTO) should be sufficient compliance for customs release.

Govt opens platform to speed up medical imports BusinessMirror 6th Apr 2020
The Anti-Red Tape Authority (Arta) has created a single window platform intended to hasten the importation procedure of medical supplies that are needed in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Under Joint Memorandum Circular 1, the Arta, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) institutionalized the Bayanihan One Stop Shop, or BOSS. It functions as a single window and concierge for state agencies dealing with the importation of health goods crucial in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic. In the existing setup, importation of products regulated by the FDA would require the issuance of license to operate to the importer and registration of every medical item unless exempted.

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.

Singapore

All 20 polyclinics and some GPs can now perform coronavirus swab test The Straits Times 9th Apr 2020
Swab tests for the coronavirus have been extended from public and private hospitals here to all 20 polyclinics and several general practitioner clinics, The Straits Times has learnt. The ParkwayHealth Laboratory, which comes under the Parkway Pantai group, said it has processed swab tests for more than 33 clinics under the Parkway Shenton chain of GP clinics since late March. It also received samples from 21 GP clinics approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH) for such tests.

Prolong usage of PPE induces headaches in Frontline healthcare workers BioSpectrumAsia 9th Apr 2020
A study conducted by a team of clinical researchers from the National University Hospital (NUH) during the current COVID-19 outbreak found that the majority of frontline healthcare workers developed new-onset headaches due to the wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for long hours. The study was conducted from February to March 2020 shortly after a surge in COVID-19 cases in Singapore and involved 158 healthcare workers at NUH who donned PPE while caring for COVID-19 patients in high-risk hospital areas. The study, whose findings have been published in the reputable scientific journal Headache, found that healthcare workers with combined exposure to N95 face-mask and protective eyewear (e.g. goggles) used for more than 4 hours per day were predisposed to the development of new-onset PPE associated headaches. Furthermore, the headaches in responders with a background history of migraine or tension-type headache worsened. In addition, the location of pain or discomfort upon the head was found to correspond anatomically to the areas of compression by either the mask or goggles and their straps.

Singapore uncovers cancer-causing hereditary mutation in Asians BioSpectrumAsia 8th Apr 2020
Researchers from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have uncovered a genetic variant in a gene called MET that is responsible for more aggressive growth of head and neck, and lung cancers. A further probe into the finding revealed therapeutic strategies that could potentially target this genetic alteration, thereby paving the way for clinicians to develop better and more effective treatments for cancer patients of such profile. The study, published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications on 25 March 2020, was conducted in close collaboration with clinicians from the National University Cancer Institute, as well as researchers from the National Cancer Centre Singapore and the Bioinformatics Institute at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore.

Medtech firm Biolidics allowed to sell COVID-19 test kit in EU Health Care Asia Magazine 7th Apr 2020
Medical technology company Biolidics has been permitted to market and sell its rapid test kit for COVID-19 in the European Union (EU) after it received confirmation for a CE Marking, according to a press release. The company has recently been authorised by the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration on 31 March and provisionally by Singapore’s Health Science Authority on 27 March for its rapid test kit to be used in these countries.

Singapore-based Doctor Anywhere bags $27m Series B funding Health Care Asia Magazine 4th Apr 2020
Singapore-based healthtech startup Doctor Anywhere has secured a $27m Series B financing round led by Australia-based Square Peg, EDBI, and IHH Healthcare, according to a press release. The latest investment will help Doctor Anywhere prepare for an extensive expansion. Rounding out this series of funding are Pavilion Capital and existing shareholder Kamet Capital, bringing Doctor Anywhere’s total capital base to exceed $40m. Doctor Anywhere recently launched its platform in Thailand. It also operates in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with announcements on other regional plans in the pipeline due later this year.

Thailand

BoI ramps up privileges for local medical equipment Bangkok Post 14th Apr 2020
The Board of Investment (BoI) approved additional privileges on Monday for medical devices and related industries, with a reduction in corporate income tax by 50% for three years. Additional privileges aim to induce investors to rev up producing medical equipment for the domestic market, as demand surges because of the pandemic. Duangjai Asawachintachit, secretary-general of BoI, said additional privileges are for eligible projects submitting investment applications to the BoI from Jan 1 to June 20, 2020.

MDES joins hands with HUAWEI, provides 5G solution and AI Technology Bangkok Post 13th Apr 2020
The Digital Economy and Society Ministry, together with Huawei Technologies (Thailand) Co., Ltd., are providing AI-assisted solutions with 5G technology to Siriraj Hospital with the aim of enabling output diagnosis results automatically, quickly, and correctly through a high-speed network. This world-class technology will strengthen Thai medical staff capabilities to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic effectively.

Covid-19 hastening end to unwanted pregnancies Bangkok Post 13th Apr 2020
Koi, a 39- year-old vendor, decided to terminate her pregnancy after her family's earnings plummeted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Somchai Kaemthong, director of PPAT's information and public relations department, said PPAT works under the medical guidelines and practices of the Medical Council, saying women can have an abortion if they are no more than 12 weeks pregnant and they must give their consent before. The PPAT is a pioneer in family planning in Thailand. First registered in 1970, it will mark its 50th anniversary tomorrow. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unintended pregnancies remain an important public health issue. Globally, 74 million women in low and middle-income countries have unintended pregnancies annually. This leads to 25 million unsafe abortions and 47,000 maternal deaths every year.

Thailand News: Free treatment for all virus patients The Phuket News Com 11th Apr 2020
Under a Public Health Ministry announcement, all hospitals, public and private, must do their best to treat COVID-19 patients without delay until they are out of immediate danger or transferred to other hospitals based on their coverage. They may not charge the patients but can bill the National Health Security Office (NHSO) later. A patient will have to pay medical bills only when he chooses not to be treated at the hospital he is entitled to use.

New virus app a powerful tool Bangkok Post 10th Apr 2020
A new mobile app, Mor Chana, has been launched as a powerful tool to help people assess their coronavirus infection risk, assist health authorities in tracking users in close contact with infected people and prevent transmission among healthcare workers. The app is the result of collaboration between state organisations and private developers. Data drawn from the app will be analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI) systems to assist with continuing epidemiological studies by the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

Dengue fever an added threat to lives The Nation Thailand 10th Apr 2020
The Department of Disease Control (DDC) is warning people to beware of dengue fever, after rains in several regions of Thailand has resulted in an abundance of mosquitos. Dr Asadang Ruayajin, DDC’s deputy director general, said that since January 1 to April 7, 8,147 people in the provinces of Ang Thong, Rayong and Phichit have been infected with dengue fever and four have died from the disease so far.

CP ready to start producing masks now that materials have arrived The Nation Thailand 10th Apr 2020
Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) said on Thursday (April 9) that the chartered flight from China carrying a mask-manufacturing machine and meltblown non-woven fibre has arrived in Thailand. Recently CP’s senior chairman Dhanin Chearavanont said he has invested about Bt100 million to build a factory to produce surgical face masks for medical personnel and the general public. These masks will be distributed for free.CP officials said the import of the machine and material has been tough because countries are now competing for mask-manufacturing equipment because they need to fight their own Covid-19 battles.

Rajavithi offers telemedicine service through app The Nation Thailand 10th Apr 2020
Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok has launched a telemedicine service through an application Me-More, for the convenience of people who have passed the hospital’s risk test, to be screened online by doctors. Interested people must fill an online questionnaire at http://covid19.rajavithi.go.th on Covid-19 risk. The at-risk persons will receive a code for seeing doctors.

NBTC begins funding of 41 hospitals Bangkok Post 9th Apr 2020
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) plans to start providing 345 million baht to 41 qualified state hospitals today in an assistance scheme to combat the pandemic. The 41 hospitals are the first segment to be qualified to receive assistance from the NBTC. A total of 273 hospitals have sought financial assistance from the telecom regulator, which earlier approved using 1 billion baht from its fiscal 2020 budget and the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research Fund to support hospitals fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

'Ninja' robots to help treat infected Bangkok Post 8th Apr 2020
Chulalongkorn University has launched a line of robots to assist medical staff in providing telehealthcare to Covid-19 patients as the number of local infections continues to rise. "The country is now at war with a virus which can infect anybody. We will send an army of robots to help hospitals nationwide," Bundhit Eua-arporn, the president of Chulalongkorn University, told a press conference yesterday at Chulalongkorn University Alumni Association (CUAA).

AIA Thailand partners with True Digital Group and Samitivej to launch Virtual COVID-19 Clinic MobiHealthNews 8th Apr 2020
AIA Thailand, which is part of AIA, the largest public listed pan-Asian life insurance group, announced that it has launched a free-of-charge ‘Virtual COVID-19 Clinic’, in collaboration with True Digital Group, a subsidiary of True Corporation, a leading communications conglomerate in Thailand and Samitivej, a private hospital brand in Thailand with a network of eight hospitals and owned by Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS). The special consultation service was created for those with may display symptoms of COVID-19 or at high risk of contracting of the coronavirus. These include those travelling back from high risk countries or having contact with high risk people.

Academic hails health charter as key to stemming virus outbreak Bangkok Post 5th Apr 2020
Systematic cooperation is needed to underpin the "public health charter" which spells out the bottom-up community efforts necessary for stemming the spread of Covid-19, according to a health expert. Niran Pitakwatchara, head of the College of Medicine and Public Health, Ubon Ratchathani University, said the pandemic cannot be contained by applying laws alone. Social measures involving the cooperation of all stakeholders are crucial in battling the disease. Instrumental will be the public health charter adopted in tandem with the 2007 National Health Act that dictates decision-making strategies to promote public health, he said.

Covid-19 now covered by Bt30 health scheme The Nation Thailand 3rd Apr 2020
The Royal Gazette announced on its website on Friday (April 3) that the National Health Security Office (NHSO) will be adding the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) to the list of diseases that will be covered by the fund from March 31 onwards. The announcement, signed by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, states that Covid-19 is now included in the scope of public health services available to those covered under the National Health Security Act BE 2545 (2002).

Vietnam

Private medical facilities allowed to offer COVID-19 tests: Government vietnamnews.vn 10th Apr 2020
Private medical facilities will be allowed to administer COVID-19 tests according to a Government decision issued on Thursday. The decision follows a request made by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance early in April to allow private medical facilities to perform laboratory tests for COVID-19. Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc asked the two ministries to collaborate with related agencies to develop a plan on ordering private medical facilities to provide testing services.

Four new COVID-19 cases reported, total number rises to 245 vietnamnews.vn 6th Apr 2020
Four new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday afternoon, bringing the nation's total to 245, according to the latest report by the Ministry of Health.

Việt Nam actively helps foreign representative agencies protect citizens vietnamnews.vn 4th Apr 2020
Relevant agencies in Việt Nam have been actively helping representative agencies of foreign nations in the country carry out citizen protection measures amid rapid developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng said on April 3.

Gov't issues instructions on implementation of stay-at-home order vietnamnews.vn 3rd Apr 2020
The Government Office late Friday issued a document detailing the instructions on the implementation of Prime Minister’s Directive 16 regarding a 14-day nationwide stay-at-home order and social distancing measures starting April 1 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The directive, which the Government insisted does not constitute a stringent lockdown given that the number of cases in the country remains quite modest, has caused quite a lot of confusion among the public and even local authorities about the scope and intensity of the restrictions to be implemented. Today’s instruction document noted that “a number of the directive’s contents have not been fully understood and uniformly implemented,” referring to surfacing reports of a number of provinces and cities across the country taking the order a step too far, setting up checkpoints at their gateway and imposing a ban on travel to and from their jurisdiction.

Gov’t considering unprecedented US$2.6b support package for Vietnamese hit by COVID-19 vietnamnews.vn 2nd Apr 2020
The Vietnamese Government is poised to adopt a US$2.6 billion relief package to help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that has waged devastation on the economy. The draft Resolution on Government’s COVID-19 support, presented on Wednesday at the regular cabinet meeting by the Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng, mostly sets out cash payments during a three-month period starting April through June.

Vietnam's health-tech startup eDoctor raises funding from Japanese, S Korean VCs DealStreetAsia 1st Apr 2020
Vietnamese health-tech startup eDoctor has raised a new round of funding from Japan’s CyberAgent Capital and Genesia Ventures, and South Korea’s early-stage venture capital firms Bon Angels and Nextrans. Financial details of the investment were not disclosed but the startup said it has now raised more than $1 million to date. eDoctor had previously bagged $500,000 in funding on the Shark Tank TV show from CyberAgent Capital, which was represented on the show by its country head Dzung Nguyen.