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Health Ministry Rolls Out Virus Prevention Measures

Source: Vientiane Times

Health authorities are putting in place stringent screening measures at border crossings in response to the new coronavirus outbreak, Director General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control at the Ministry of Health, Dr Rattanaxay Phetsavanh, told a press conference on Thursday.

Laos is at high risk of the pneumonia-causing virus crossing the border and causing new infections, as the number of cases in neighbouring countries increases.

So far, no suspected or confirmed case has been reported in Laos but there is clear evidence of human-to-human transmission and medical workers in China have contracted the virus from their patients.

Dr Rattanaxay said the health ministry had directed provinces and cities to monitor the health status of all passengers travelling to and from China and other neighbouring countries.

“We have made plans and are preparing for the worst-case scenario following the outbreak in China. Particular vigilance is in place at borders in the northern provinces of Phongsaly, Luang Namtha and Oudomxay, which share a border with China,” he said.

The ministry is strengthening preparedness for and response to all public health threats including the ongoing pneumonia epidemic.
“Laos has a well-established system to detect unusual clusters of disease or illness and we continue to strengthen this system to ensure it is capable of detecting anything unusual,” he added

The ministry will work closely with the World Health Organisation and other international health bodies to monitor the development of the new strain of coronavirus. Meanwhile, health officials are advising people to protect themselves from the virus by limiting contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.

Handwashing with soap is important to prevent the spread of the virus and people are also advised to gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash. The ministry also recommended that people cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, preferably with a cloth or handkerchief, to reduce the spread of respiratory secretions.

The ministry also said that people who had returned from Wuhan or had close contact with a person with pneumonia in the last 14 days should visit a health centre or hospital for examination and treatment if they showed signs of fever, coughing or shortness of breath.

The virus has spread outside mainland China to the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.