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Laos Changes Conditions For Covid-19 Tests

Source: Vientiane Times

The National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has eased the conditions for free Covid-19 tests in order to reduce the threat posed by the Coronavirus to Laos.

The change in the definition used to determine who is eligible for Covid-19 testing is aimed at ensuring more people can access health services for the tests, a health official said.

However, health experts will not provide free Covid-19 tests to people who are not showing the common symptoms of being infected by the Coronavirus.

The health official said, according to the old definition, a doctor determined whether a patient had symptoms matching Covid-19 or a history of travelling to locations at risk from the Coronavirus, and then referred the patient for Covid-19 testing.

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This was the message from the Director General of the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology, Dr Phonepadith Xangsayarath, at a recent news conference. He said that in the past, the free test for Covid-19 would be administered only to people who had travelled to an area that had witnessed an outbreak and had developed flu-like symptoms after leaving this area or after entering Laos.

People who travelled to countries affected by the outbreak and had any flu-like symptoms, including respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, were referred for Covid-19 testing.

Under the new definition, health officials will provide free Covid-19 tests to all cases, even when they have only  one of the common signs of a Coronavirus infection. “This will be done if they particularly have any flu-like symptoms or respiratory symptoms,” he said.

Testing is needed to stem the spread of the disease. Health officials will test only people suspected of carrying the virus

The Ministry of Health has set up Covid-19 coordination units at hospitals nationwide to help monitor and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

People typically develop symptoms within 14 days after exposure to the Coronavirus.

The risk of infection can be lowered by avoiding close contact with anyone with a fever, cough, sore throat or respiratory problems, covering the mouth while coughing, washing hands with soap and using hand sanitisers, and avoiding contact with live or dead farm or wild animals, according to the ministry.