SINGAPORE -- China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are preparing to hold an emergency meeting of their foreign ministers this month to discuss the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
A diplomatic source from an ASEAN member confirmed that a meeting is being planned. The foreign minister from that country will attend, the source said.
The conference, which would be held as early as Feb. 20 in Laos, is intended to share information and improve coordination among China and the 10-nation bloc to combat the virus.
The new coronavirus was first detected in China, where the death toll has surpassed 1,000, and has spread to nearly every Southeast Asian country. Cases are rising in the region, which depends heavily on trade and tourism flows with China. Nations have taken measures such as restricting travel, even as they brace for the economic impact of the outbreak.
Though ASEAN and Beijing have differing views on several issues, such as territorial claims over the South China Sea, they have a common interest in urging a global response to the disease and in making efforts to reduce public concern.
ASEAN foreign ministers held their annual retreat just last month in Vietnam, the country serving as chair of the association this year.