Source: Vientiane Times
The continuing spread of Covid-19 in neighbouring countries and beyond has forced Laos to intensify measures to protect the tiny nation against a second wave of the virus.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a notice on August 7 outlining the challenges faced by Laos and the high risks posed by the global health crisis.
A surge in cases in neighbouring countries including Vietnam means there could be a resurgence in Laos at any time, so it has become necessary for the government to double its efforts to prevent and control the virus.
The notice states that the Ministry of Public Security should partner with the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control to strengthen inspections at border crossings and enforce stronger border controls. If any Illegal immigrants are found, they will be tested for Covid-19 before being sent to a state-designated quarantine centre.
The public will be informed when an illegal entry takes place so that everyone is aware of the need to be on their guard against the virus.
The Ministry of Public Security has been instructed to collaborate with authorities in Vientiane and the provinces to ensure that entertainment venues including karaoke bars and nightclubs remain closed.
Entertainment venues found to be violating the government’s regulations will receive a warning, a fine, or have their business operation licence revoked.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been asked to partner with the virus taskforce committee and other relevant agencies to prepare to roll out a Fast-Track immigration policy with Vietnam and China.
The taskforce committee, local authorities and other relevant bodies have been urged to continue to circulate information about the Covid-19 pandemic, including the dangers and risks involved and the potential for a second wave.
The authorities concerned should step up activities and surveillance based on the government’s guidelines and instructions, to ensure Laos remains free of Covid-19.
Late last month, the government issued a ban on international charter flights after a 32-year-old Korean national who entered Laos tested positive for Covid-19 and became the country’s 20th confirmed case.
The Korean man, who is an employee of a hydropower project in Laos, departed from Japan to South Korea on July 18. Then he travelled from Incheon International Airport on a charter flight to Vientiane on the same day.
The suspension of charter flights poses challenges for Lao nationals overseas who are struggling to return home because there are no direct flights from Europe or the US to Laos. People travelling from Europe to Laos have to transit through Vietnam, Thailand or another Asian country.
Meanwhile, the issuing of tourist visas for foreign visitors continues to be suspended.
So far, Laos remains safe after going more than 100 hundred days without recording any new cases of the virus.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 19 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported globally, including more than 714,000 deaths. In India, the number has risen to over 2 million with 42,518 deaths, while Brazil has registered nearly 100,000 deaths.