Measures Taken by Southeast Asian Countries for COVID-19

Updates on how governments in SEA are combating the spread of the virus. 
Thursday 19 March 2020
Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at Suri Seri Begawan Raja Pengiran Anak Damit Mosque. Photo: Dean Kassim / AFP

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected various parts of the world. As of now, there have been 200,000 cases and 8,000 deaths. However, what’s the world doing to stop the virus outbreak? Here’s a list of measures taken by Southeast Asian countries to curb the spread.


Singapore orders all new visitors with recent travel history to high risk COVID-19 areas like France, Italy, Spain, Iran, and mainland China, within the last 14 days, will not be allowed entry into or transit through the country.

Singaporean residents and pass-holders who have been to those countries in the past 14 days will be issued a Stay-Home Notice, which will require them to be quarantined for two weeks.


The entire northern island of Luzon is placed on enhanced community quarantine from 17 March – 13 April. All travel into and out of Manila has been stopped, with a 8pm to 5am curfew imposed in the city. Additionally, transportation lines including trains, buses, motorcycle taxis are closed.

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Council workers and firemen disinfect a street as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Quezon City. Photo: Maria Tan / AFP

Businesses are also required to be closed, except for those providing essential services such as health and emergency frontline services, border control, water, medical, pharmacies, money, broadcasting.


The country has suspended the issue of new visas for all foreign nationals to combat the COVID-19. Vietnam also imposed the closure of schools, cinemas, clubs and bars, massage parlours, karaoke lounges and online game centres in urban areas until the end of March.

All Vietnamese and foreign nationals are also required to wear face masks in public places such as airports, bus stations, supermarkets, and public transport vehicles.


Thankfully, Laos is yet to record a case of the virus. However, the government has ruled on several measures to keep the country free of the coronavirus. This includes employers avoiding hiring new foreign nationals from infected areas, private and state schools and kindergartens to close temporarily until April 21, along with authorities in northern Laos’ Houaphan province calling for the temporary closure of 10 traditional border crossings with Vietnam.


Thailand has ordered the temporary closures of public places from 18 – 31 March in Bangkok.

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Royal Thai Army soldiers in protective gear walk past a restaurant amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Bangkok. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP

This includes bars, karaoke parlours, movie theatres, gymnasiums, boxing stadiums, schools and universities. Additionally, travellers from China, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Italy and Iran who are headed to Thailand will need to present a health certificate, confirming a negative coronavirus test when checking in before their flight. The Thai government has also postponed the Songkran holidays, which was initially scheduled for 13-15 April.


Brunei’s cases are linked to Malaysia as they are connected to a religious event on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

To curb the situation, the nation intends to keep the current population in. This means that any travels are subject to approval from the Prime Minister’s Office. Brunei citizens, permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners holding valid identification cards (ICs) are not allowed to leave the country starting on 16 March 2020 except for medical treatment, attend court hearing or studies overseas.

In town, social gatherings such as official football and basketball matches are suspended.


There are no cases of COVID-19 detected in Myanmar so far, but the country is taking precautions. On 13 March 2020, the Myanmar government announced the restriction of mass gatherings and public events including the traditional Thingyan water festival until the end of April.

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A man wears a facemask, amid concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, as he visits Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Photo: Ye Aung Thu / AFP

Travel restrictions have also been implemented. Travellers who have visited high risk areas such as the Hubei Province in China in the past 14 days will not be permitted entry. In addition, travellers who have recently visited Italy, Iran, France, Spain and Germany will be required to present a valid medical certificate before being allowed to board their flights.


The government has decided to temporarily bar people from six countries from entering the Kingdom. Basically, the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Iran are temporarily banned from the Kingdom. Interestingly, China is not included in the list. Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said explains that the country is, “confident the COVID-19 outbreak in China is under control.”

Within Cambodia itself, schools in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap city are closed, while Angkor Sankranta Festival – a four-day celebration of the Khmer New Year held in April – are officially cancelled.

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Members of the Indonesian Red Cross disinfect a school amid concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus in Jakarta. Photo: ADEK BERRY / AFP


As of 17 March 2020, Indonesia prohibits the entry and transit of visitors who have travelled in the last 14 days to Italy and Vatican City, Spain, France, Germany, the UK, as well as Iran due to COVID-19 concerns.


No cases of COVID-19 are reported in Timor-Lest. However, the government decided in mid March 2020 to extend temporary measures restricting the entry of foreigners who have been in China, South Korea, Italy and Iran as a preventative measure in relation to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Source: The Star, The New York TimesABC News, Vientiane TimesThe Guardian, Asean Briefing, NST