Authorities Ramp Up Lao-Thai Border Checks To Prevent Virus Spread

Source: Vientiane Times

Local authorities have been urged to monitor border crossings to prevent people from entering Laos illegally from Thailand, to stem the spread of Covid-19 after a widespread outbreak in Thailand.

As Thailand faces a second wave of Covid-19, many Lao workers are returning home, both legally and illegally, sparking fears of a second wave in Laos, an official from the National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control said.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Deputy DirectorGeneral of the Department of Communicable Disease Control, under the Ministry of Health, Dr Phonepaseuth, said “The taskforce and health authorities are concerned that Lao workers are returning from Thailand and entering Laos illegally by crossing the Mekong River.”

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Local authorities continue to face challenges in monitoring people at border crossings and providing assistance to returning workers affected by the pandemic, she added.

It is still common for returning migrants to enter Laos undetected by crossing the Mekong at places where there are no immigration facilities.

This means they are not screened for the virus or quarantined as regulations require. Last week about 17 Lao nationals entered Xayaboury at “traditional” border crossings, while 13 Lao people returning from Thailand crossed the Mekong illegally in Sangthong district, Vientiane.

On January 1, authorities in Hadxaifong district, Vientiane, arrested 11 Lao nationals and two boat drivers when they attempted to illegally cross the river from Thailand.

The river is easy to cross at this time of the year because of the low water level. The national taskforce for virus control recently instructed local authorities in all provinces bordering Thailand to record information about people entering Laos.

These provinces are considered at high risk for the spread of the virus as they border populous Thailand, and the border between Laos and Thailand is porous.

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Up until January 10 this year a total of 96,031 people were tested for Covid-19. To date, only 41 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Laos and no deaths from the virus have been reported

Laos has imposed uniform standards of self-monitoring and quarantine for the staff of international organisations, business executives, and general workers. A 14-day period of self-monitoring is required for everyone entering Laos even if they have no Covid-19 symptoms.

On Monday, 249 new coronavirus cases were reported in Thailand, 224 of them local transmissions, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 10,547. No new deaths were reported, leaving the accumulated toll at 67, according to the Bangkok Post.
Of the 224 local cases, 78 were detected through active testing, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration said.

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