COVID-19 Prevention Measures Remain, Charter Flights Suspended

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has suspended shuttle flights after operating them with some countries for some time as the challenge of a possible COVID-19 outbreak arises in the days ahead, the task force committee has said.

In its latest assessment on pandemic prevention, the government has also decided to continue imposing the COVID-19 prevention measures enforced since the end of June.

Vice Chairman of the National Task Force Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong told local media on Thursday that the suspension of shuttle flights and the continuous imposition of the prevention measures will be valid from August 1-31.

Revision of the measures will be considered after August.

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Over the last few months, the government has eased many lockdown measures imposed under Prime Ministerial Order No. 06 after recording no new COVID-19 cases for several months. But it has decided to suspend the shuttle flights along with maintaining the prevention measures enforced since the end of June after learning of the challenge of a possible outbreak in the days ahead.

Dr Bounkong, who is also Minister of Health, suggested that rising confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection around the world posed a challenge.

In addition, a South Korean national was recently confirmed as the 20th coronavirus case in Laos upon his arrival to the country.

“We shouldn’t be careless,” Dr Bounkong told the press conference at his ministry.

The measures continue to be imposed from August 1-31 are:

  • Closure of entertainment venues, karaoke, and gaming shops
  • Closure of traditional and local border checkpoints, except those permitted by the government for goods transport. International checkpoints remain closed for regular travellers, except essential crossings for Lao and foreign nationals who are permitted by the task force committee. Transportation of goods via the international checkpoints is allowed as normal,
  • Suspending the issuing of tourist or visiting visas for those travelling from or transiting via countries where a COVID-19 outbreak is taking place. Foreign diplomats, the staff of international organisations, experts, investors, businesspeople, technical personnel, and workers deemed essential to take up missions in Laos can enter the country upon approval by the task force committee. The task force committee will issue particular procedures for this entry application at a later date.

Regarding the suspension of shuttle flights, the government asked the task force committee in collaboration with Lao Airlines to formulate and issue proper measures for submission to the government to consider. Lao Airlines was told to hold talks with its foreign counterparts in this regard.

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“If we don’t manage the exit-entry of the country properly, there is the risk of importing the virus via travellers from foreign countries as was the case of mid-July,” Dr Bounkong said, referring to the recently-confirmed case of the Korean national.

The minister added that the abovementioned measures are just temporary, saying that if new COVID-19 cases are reported, restriction measures will be revised and imposed accordingly in the province(s) where the cases take place.

If there are cluster infections in two provinces or more, lockdown measures under the Prime Ministerial Order No. 06 issued in March will be re-imposed, Dr Bounkong added.

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