Source: Vientiane Times
Another 28 people have tested positive for Covid-19 after 656 people were tested for the virus this week, bringing the total number of known cases to 88, the National Taskforce for Covid -19 Prevention and Control announced on Wednesday.
Twenty-six of the cases were recorded in Vientiane, with two more in Champassak province, leading authorities to declare a community outbreak of the virus.
The spike in the number of new infections raises the likelihood of a widespread outbreak in Laos and comes as the number of cases surges in neighbouring countries.
Director General of the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health, Dr Phonepadith Xangsayarath, told a press conference on Wednesday that the 28 people who had recently tested positive had all come into contact with a 25-year-old woman from Vientiane. She was found to have the virus on Tuesday and has since been isolated.
On April 6, the woman and a friend met two Thai men in Savannakhet who had entered Laos illegally. They stayed at the Phair Mai 2 Hotel, visited a karaoke bar and boarded a bus from Savannakhet to Vientiane that night.
On April 7 they arrived in Vientiane and went to several pubs, nightclubs, and karaoke bars around the city.
Of the 28 newly identified cases, three were traced to a massage parlour visited by the woman. Two others were traced to the Diamond Karaoke Bar, three to the Marina Nightclub, two to the Funny 89 Restaurant and a nearby noodle shop, and one to the 8118 Karaoke Bar.
Fifteen other cases were traced to a party held at Phontong Garage and parties held in Phonthan, Nongtha Tai, Sikhai, Nongphanya and Saphanthong Tai villages.
Authorities ordered the temporary closure of all entertainment venues including pubs, nightclubs, and karaoke bars across the country on April 13, but all the people most recently found to have contracted the virus visited entertainment venues prior to the closure order.
The taskforce has opened more Covid-19 test sites in Vientiane and people may now get tests at the Beungkhayong Indoor Sports Centre in Sisattanak district, the Chao Anouvong Stadium in Chanthaboury district, the Ho Chi Minh High School in Sikhottabong district, and the Lao-Viet High School in Chanthabouy district.
The two cases recorded in Champassak province were Lao workers returning from Thailand who entered Laos at a legal border crossing and were placed in quarantine centres.
Thirty-nine people are currently in hospitals around the country after testing positive for Covid-19 but no deaths from the virus have been reported.
Meanwhile, standards at quarantine centres will be improved along with testing among suspect and at-risk groups.