METHODS: Consensus-driven approach between authors from the six selected countries was applied. Country specific policy documents, official government media statements, mainstream news portals, global statistics databases and latest published literature available between January-October 2020 were utilised for information retrieval. Situational and epidemiological trend analyses were conducted. Country-specific interventions and challenges were described. Based on evidence appraised, a descriptive framework was considered through a consensus. The authors subsequently outlined the lessons learned, challenges ahead and interventions that needs to be in place to control the pandemic.
RESULTS: The total number of people infected with COVID-19 between 1 January and 16 November 2020 had reached 48,520 in Malaysia, 58,124 in Singapore, 3,875 in Thailand, 470,648 in Indonesia, 409,574 in Philippines and 70,161 in Myanmar. The total number of people infected with COVID- 19 in the six countries from January to 31 October 2020 were 936,866 cases and the mortality rate was 2.42%. Indonesia had 410,088 cases with a mortality rate of 3.38%, Philippines had 380,729 cases with a mortality rate of 1.90%, Myanmar had 52,706 cases with a mortality rate of 2.34%, Thailand had 3,780 cases with a mortality rate of 1.56%, Malaysia had 31,548 cases with a mortality rate of 0.79%, and Singapore had 58,015 cases with a mortality rate of 0.05% over the 10- month period. Each country response varied depending on its real-time situations based on the number of active cases and economic situation of the country.
CONCLUSION: The number of COVID-19 cases in these countries waxed and waned over the 10-month period, the number of cases may be coming down in one country, and vice versa in another. Each country, if acting alone, will not be able to control this pandemic. Sharing of information and resources across nations is the key to successful control of the pandemic. There is a need to reflect on how the pandemic affects individuals, families and the community as a whole. There are many people who cannot afford to be isolated from their families and daily wage workers who cannot afford to miss work. Are we as a medical community, only empathising with our patients or are we doing our utmost to uphold them during this time of crisis? Are there any other avenues which can curb the epidemic while reducing its impact on the health and socio-economic condition of the individual, community and the nation?