Jakarta. South Korea – known for its robust "trace, test and treat" formula against Covid-19 – has recently launched a project worth around $5 million to boost Asean member states' coronavirus detection capacity.
The program – funded by the Asean Korea Corporation Fund – will provide testing kits, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) equipment, personal protective equipment and on-site training.
The Korea Foundation on International Healthcare will be in charge of procurement and distribution for the program.
According to the South Korean Ambassador to Asean, Lim Sung-nam, the assistance is a follow-up to South Korean President Moon Jae-In's pledge for collective action against the pandemic at the Asean Plus Three Summit in April.
In 2017, Moon had also unveiled the "New Southern Policy" to strengthen ties with Asean member states through the three pillars of "people, prosperity and peace."
"The basis of every relation is people. We want to support our Asean partners to help their people, who are suffering from the pandemic, so we can all revitalize our economy and tourism later on," Lim told Jakarta Globe at the Asean Secretariat building in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Lim said the project took only a month to approve – the fastest a project is approved since AKCF's establishment in 1990. Normally, the process would take almost a year.
"Solidarity and cooperation among nations is the only way to victory against the coronavirus. The Korean government will continue to work with Asean in the coming months and years until we are all free from Covid-19," Lim said.
Asean Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi said Asean and South Korea would further increase cooperation in public health against emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
"This will be a major area of collaboration under the Asean-Korea Plan of Action 2021-2025, which will be adopted by our foreign ministers in August," he said.
More Help for Indonesia
Lim Sung Nam said Indonesia is one of Korea's priority partners in the joint fight against Covid-19.
He said the Korean government will offer support at a much larger scale for Indonesia's fight against the pandemic in the next few months.
However, details about the assistance are yet to be disclosed.
In April, South Korea had donated reagents to ramp up Indonesia's extremely low testing rate.