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Southeast Asian leaders hold video conference summit, vow to cooperate in Covid-19 fight

Southeast Asian leaders hold video conference summit, vow to cooperate in Covid-19 fight

Leaders of Southeast Asian states agreed at their first video conference summit on Tuesday to fight together against the “gravest public health crisis” in 100 years. Coronavirus cases in countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over the past month have soared to more than 20,000 from fewer than 840.

The death toll has grown to 866 from 14, Reuters said. Due to limited testing in some countries, medical professionals suspect the real numbers may be much higher. “It’s critical for us and ASEAN to mount a united response because of how connected and interdependent our countries are,” Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong told the meeting. “None of us in ASEAN can be truly safe unless the entire region is safe,” said Lee.

The meeting was chaired by Vietnam PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The leaders agreed that member states should enhance cooperation and ensure regional supply chains remain open.

Indonesia has reported nearly 400 deaths, the highest toll in Asia after China, sparking concern about an escalating crisis in some parts of the region, Reuters said.