How did Malaysia do it with the backdrop of the ongoing battle against the Covid-19 pandemic?
It was with a whole lot of teamwork – including some 35 Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) staff members who are part of the APEC 2020 National Secretariat, representatives from various ministries and government agencies, and 1,422 volunteers.
MITI - the APEC 2020 National Secretariat had been keeping close tabs on the pandemic since January. The ministry even went on to prepare videos on social distancing and washing hands regularly as delegates visited the country. The video was even played in a Feb 2 meeting.
The level of preparedness was evident even when the nation’s borders were still open. Foreign delegates were given health declaration forms upon arrival. MITI kept one copy while the delegates kept the other copy which had information, including the nearest hospital if they showed Covid-19 symptoms. Hotels were told to scan and record the temperatures of those entering their premises as face masks were handed out while sanitization stations were placed around the meeting venue. Delegates were also given hand sanitizers.
Even in February, some of the delegates were not able to attend the meetings as the concerned economies tightened their borders. They instead joined virtually, marking the beginning of APEC 2020’s digital experience.
In the middle of April, discussions were held regarding APEC 2020 and the first proper virtual meeting was with Tan Sri Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, the executive director of the APEC Secretariat based in Singapore. Sta Maria suggested that the host writes to all the economies about the decision to have the Virtual Extraordinary Senior Officials meeting on May 27.
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