The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China has made headlines around the world. The illness, which causes flu-like symptoms, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Like a number of countries around the world, many nations in Southeast Asia are taking precautions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are among these.
What is coronavirus? What precautions can be taken against it? And how will it affect travel to ASEAN countries? Answers to all these questions are provided below.
Temporary Travel Restrictions to ASEAN Countries
Like many other sovereign states around the world, the ASEAN member countries are taking steps to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Many have introduced entry restrictions on certain travelers or closed their borders entirely.
Singapore Travel Restrictions Due to Coronavirus
Singapore has now banned all foreign visitors from entering the city-state starting from March 23, 2020. This travel ban was implemented due to the fact that the majority of new cases of coronavirus in Singapore had been brought into the country.
Exceptions may be made for short-term visits if the travelers has an Approval Letter for Entry (ALE) from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) or the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Singaporean citizens and official residents are allowed to return to the island state, submitting a health declaration via the SG Arrival Card system. However, they must self-isolate at home for a minimum of 14 days.
Coronavirus Travel Ban for Malaysia
Malaysia is the hardest-hit country in Southeast Asia. It has also introduced a travel ban for all overseas travelers.
The country is on lockdown, with the military deployed to ensure that the population remain in their homes.
Travel Ban for Vietnam Due to Coronavirus
Vietnam also started denying entry to foreigners on Sunday March 22. All inbound flights have been stopped.
Thailand Travel Restrictions
Thailand has suspended all commercial passenger flights except for repatriation. Thai nationals and residents returning to the country must undergo quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Travel Ban for the Philippines Because of COVID-19
The Philippines are under lockdown after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of emergency. Visitors from overseas are currently prohibited from entering the country. Flights are currently suspended.
Indonesia Travel Restrictions Due to Coronavirus
Indonesia is also in a state of emergency after being hit with the highest number of deaths due to coronavirus in Southeast Asia.
Foreign visitors are currently prohibited from entering Indonesia; only Indonesian nationals, foreigners with a Temporary Stay Permit (ITAS) or Permanent Stay Permit (ITAP), diplomats, medical aid workers, and humanitarian workers are permitted to travel to the country.
All travelers who have been in China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, or Vatican City in the 14 days before they are due to arrive in Indonesia are barred from visiting the country.
Laos Coronavirus Travel Restrictions
Laos has suspended all flights. In addition, it has closed the border with Thailand as well as border crossing points on Golden Triangle roads with China and Myanmar.
All travelers arriving in Laos from countries with more than 100 cases of coronavirus must self-quarantine.
Coronavirus Travel Restrictions for Cambodia
Cambodia has banned travelers from the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Iran from entering the country. Returning Cambodian nationals and residents who have been in these countries in the past 14 days must be quarantined for 2 weeks.
All e-Visas, visas on arrival, and visa exemptions have been suspended.
Foreign nationals must have a medical certificate issued by health authorities in order to enter Cambodia.
Travel Restrictions for Myanmar Due to COVID-19
Myanmar has suspended all flights and visas and now requires all travelers (both Burmese citizens and foreign nationals) to spend 14 days in a quarantine facility upon arrival in the country.
Travelers from overseas, including diplomats, must present a medical certificate issued within the 72 hours before their journey to Myanmar upon arrival to prove that they are not infected with coronavirus.
What Other Measures Are ASEAN Countries Taking Against Coronavirus?
ASEAN countries have taken a number of other measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19.
Such measures include:
- Identifying cases of 2019-nCoV within the countries
- Preparing hospitals to treat and quarantine patients
- Requiring people to self-isolate
Several ASEAN countries first began screening new arrivals at their borders and points of entry. Countries with medical checks in place include:
Indonesia installed thermal scanners and medical check-up stations at 135 border entry points, including airports, seaports, and land border crossings.
There have also been instances of groups of people being put under quarantine while they are checked for signs of the coronavirus, including 245 Indonesian nationals who were evacuated from China.
Malaysia deployed its navy to provide ships to retrieve nationals from China and bring them home.
What Is a Coronavirus?
There are many types of coronaviruses (CoV), which make up a large group of viruses.
Different coronaviruses can affect different mammals and birds. In humans, they cause respiratory symptoms.
Some milder forms of coronavirus are one of the causes of the common cold. On the other hand, rarer types of coronavirus can cause serious conditions such as SARS.
The Wuhan coronavirus is a new strain of CoV that had not previously affected people. This novel coronavirus, dubbed “COVID-19” causes mild symptoms in some patients but severe symptoms in others. There have been a significant number of fatalities.
Symptoms of coronavirus include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Breathing problems
Many of these symptoms are generic and could be caused by a number of other viruses. Some patients may not even realize they have COVID-19. However, it has the potential to make some patients seriously ill.
What Precautions Can You Take Against Coronavirus
Travelers to ASEAN countries or any area affected by 2019-nCoV can reduce the risk of becoming infected by the coronavirus by following good hygiene practices and minimizing their potential exposure.
Practical Safety Tips To Protect Yourself from Coronavirus
These simple recommendations help reduce the risk of being infected by coronavirus.
- Where possible, avoid close contact with people who have recently been to areas that have experienced confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus
- It is also a good idea to avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products
- Always wash your hands after going outside or touching surfaces or animals
Other useful precautions to fight coronavirus include the following:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
- Maintain distance between yourself and others, especially if one of you has symptoms
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, as this can transmit viruses from surfaces you have touched
- Seek medical attention early if you show symptoms and avoid contact with others where possible
How Will Coronavirus Affect Travel to ASEAN Countries?
A number of ASEAN member states have temporarily stopped flights, closed borders, or barred travelers from certain parts of the world from entering.
It is still possible to visit some ASEAN countries from most other sovereign states as normal, although it is advisable not to travel at this time unless absolutely necessary. There may be medical check-up points and screening facilities to identify travelers with coronavirus.
Once the outbreak of 2019-nCoV is under control, it is likely that travel restrictions to ASEAN countries will be lifted. Once that happens, international travelers from a number of countries will be able to visit all of the member states with the ASEAN visa.
Visitors will be able to obtain this document by completing the ASEAN visa application form online, which saves the trip to an embassy and/or having to attend an interview for all those interested in entering said regions.
General Travel Restrictions to ASEAN Countries
Under normal circumstances, there are a number of general travel restrictions to the ASEAN countries.
Citizens of member states enjoy visa exemption for visiting other ASEAN countries, but travelers from many parts of the world cannot visit without first obtaining a valid visa. There will soon be one visa that covers entry to all members of ASEAN.
Check the ASEAN visa requirements to find out what is needed to apply.
Most ASEAN countries require foreign travelers to have a passport that will be valid for a minimum of 6 months after the trip with at least one blank page.
General Entry Restrictions for Brunei
The Nation of Brunei imposes a total travel ban for citizens of Israel. This includes both entry and transit through the country.
Brunei also requires travelers arriving from a number of countries to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
General Entry Restrictions for Indonesia
There are 8 countries whose citizens need special approval from an Indonesian Immigration Office in order to visit the Southeast Asian state:
- North Korea
General Entry Restrictions for Malaysia
Travelers from certain countries cannot enter Malaysia without a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
Israeli nationals require both a visa and approval from the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs in order to gain permission to enter the country. Prior to May 2011, they were completely barred from visiting.
Citizens of the following countries are only permitted to travel to Malaysia by air:
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- DR Congo
- Ivory Coast
- Equatorial Guinea
- Western Sahara
General Entry Restrictions for Singapore
Foreign nationals visiting Singapore must meet the following requirements in order to be granted entry:
- Onward or return ticket
- Passport with more than 6 months’ validity
- Sufficient funds to cover the stay in Singapore
- SG Arrival Card
- Entry documents for the next destination (if applicable)
- Visa (if applicable)
- Yellow fever vaccination certificate (if applicable)