State of emergency extended . . .
As of May 6, Timor Leste, a small country with a population of 1.3 million, has 24 confirmed COVID-19 cases and zero deaths. However, its parliament has prolonged the state of emergency until May 26, including a nationwide shutdown of public transportation, cancellation of mass gatherings, and border closures. Everyone must maintain one-metre distance from others and wear a mask before entering stores, markets, and other public venues. All returning travelers are subject to a 14-day mandatory isolation at designated places at their own expense.
Political and economic impact . . .
Even though Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak submitted his resignation in February, President Francisco ‘Lu Olo’ Guterres asked parties to delay the parliamentary election due to the pandemic. The parliament has approved the care-taker government’s request for C$353 million from the country’s Petroleum Fund, which will be used for purchase of medical equipment, assistance for small businesses, cash transfers for households, supply of rice, and stipends for Timorese students abroad. However, experts worry that the state of emergency will devastate the livelihood of 250,000 informal workers and low income citizens, who constitute more than 40 per cent of the population.
Increased reliance on international assistance . . .
Due to its precarious health care system, Timor Leste has requested assistance from the international community. The Australian government increased its bilateral assistance while ensuring the supply of essential goods and extending visas for Timorese seasonal workers in Australia. Cuban medical teams have been training local doctors and working together during the pandemic, while China has delivered medical supplies, including 80,000 masks, 8,000 protective gears, and 90 portable ventilators. The Jack Ma Foundation announced on April 28 that it will also provide medical supplies.
- The Diplomat: Timor-Leste's coronavirus response
- The Government Press: The Government approved a forceful stimulus package
- The Interpreter: Timor-Leste: The consequences of COVID-19