On Tuesday (10 March), The Myanmar Times reported that 40 experts from Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Vietnam met in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar to start a three-year project with the governments in the region on biosecurity and biosecurity risk management.
Biosecurity encompasses security procedures to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases and the prevention of malicious use of dangerous pathogens or toxins against humans, livestock, or crops.
The governments of the participating countries will develop surveillance systems with rapid detection capacities that ensures close coordination between human and animal health authorities so that an efficient reporting and response systems is made readily available.
Speaking at the launch of the new BIOSEC Enhanced Biosecurity in South-East Asia project, European Union (EU) Ambassador Kristian Schmidt said, “Biosecurity is about saving lives, as the COVID-19 outbreak unfortunately remind us. Strong international cooperation is the way to contain the spread of highly communicable diseases in our modern world.”
In line with this, the EU has announced an investment of €3.5 million (S$ 5,502,637.83) into a regional project that will assist in increasing biosecurity in Southeast Asia and help governments to offer better responses against highly communicable diseases or global biological events.
The BIOSEC-Enhanced Biosecurity in Southeast Asia project will be headed by the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence. The agency will work with ten Southeast Asian countries and 51 partner countries in seven other regions to address CBRN risks of criminal, accidental, or natural nature-like pandemics.
“The project will support interested countries to update national inventories of high-risk biological materials and to improve their laboratory capacity to identify accurately the type and source of disease-causing agents,” explained Mr. Win Khaing Moe, Director General of the Department of Research and Innovation in the Ministry of Education in Myanmar.
Australia plans on using its biosecurity laws to control movements of COVID-19 patients
Separately, earlier this month, Australia had implemented its biosecurity law to restrict the movements of people suspected of having coronavirus, said its Attorney-General, Mr Christian Porter.
According to Mr Porter, Australia will expand the use of a rarely used law that would either designate some places as out of bounds or place the patient in home detention.
He went on to say, “You might have a major sporting event where people would be in very, very close proximity to each other and … it might be determined that the risk of transmission at a venue like that was too high.”
Therefore, its application in the current context is highly appropriate as this law can “restrict the movements of people suspected of having coronavirus,” he added.
Since 1 February, Australia has stopped foreigners from entering directly from China – its largest trading partner. The move has prevented thousands of students and tourists from entering the continent.