The summits were the first held in the videoconferencing format since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Vietnam touted its success so far in containing the pandemic with extensive quarantining and physical distancing.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the Special ASEAN+3 Summit on COVID-19. (Photo: VNA)

Vietnam has only 260 or so cases and no fatalities, the French news agency noted.

In his opening remarks to the Special ASEAN Summit, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc hailed the bloc’s work in fighting the pandemic to date but warned that COVID-19 “has badly impacted people’s lives and their socioeconomic situation ... challenging stability and social security.”

It added that Vietnam will use the summit to propose funding be made available to deal with the pandemic, building emergency medical stockpiles and sharing resources. Hanoi will also call for an “exit strategy” for battered member economies.

Meanwhile, the US-based Associated Press (AP) said that, forced apart by the coronavirus pandemic, ASEAN leaders linked up by video to plot a strategy to overcome a crisis that has threatened their economies and kept millions of people in their homes under lockdown.

It quoted PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc as telling the Special ASEAN Summit that “it is in these grim hours that the solidarity of the ASEAN community shines like a beacon in the dark.”

Diplomats said that solidarity is now crucial as the region battles COVID-19 and all ASEAN member countries have been hit by infections.

“The COVID-19 crisis is a crisis like no other in the past, not just in its potentially calamitous scale but in the hope of containing and stopping it through unstinting cooperation and the fullest of trust between all countries,” the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs was quoted by AP as saying.

Major news agencies and newspapers also highlighted the Special ASEAN+3 Summit, attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and President of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Moon Jae-in.

According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, despite joining the summit from different venues, ASEAN leaders and dialogue partners need to raise closer viewpoints, extend their consensus, and put forth more efficient action plans to soon contain the pandemic.

Regional countries have demonstrated a sense of humanitarianism and good neighborliness by supporting each other with emergency medical supplies, including face masks and protective gear, the agency said.

Japan’s Kyodo News, meanwhile, said leaders are also expected to agree on cooperating in the development of a vaccine and treatment for COVID-19, as well as in economic and fiscal policies to mitigate the impact of the virus on businesses and households./.