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Laos Struggles To Contain Escalating Virus Outbreak

Source: Vientiane Times

The number of new Covid-19 cases is spiking, not only in Laos but also in the whole region, despite reinforced measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

Laos’ neighbours, particularly Thailand, are experiencing continuing community outbreaks, putting the landlocked country at a high risk of a major epidemic.

Speaking at a press conference, Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control, Ministry of Health, Dr Phonepaseuth Xayamongkhoun, said authorities have so far identified 1,737 cases of the virus in Laos after 50 new cases were recorded nationwide on Wednesday.

Infections have been reported among groups of families, senior citizens, children, and pregnant women.

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“The surge in new cases is largely due to the fact that many people are not fully complying with Prime Ministerial Order No. 15/PM on the Reinforcement of Measures for the Containment, Prevention, and Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic,” she said.

“Family members, relatives and friends are still visiting one another, which is spreading the virus. Outbreaks have occurred in several specific groups of people. Based on my information, one group of 17 people, a group of 30 people and another group of 71 have contracted the virus.”

Dr Phonepaseuth said part of the problem was that many people, especially children and young people, do not have any symptoms so they think they are virus-free and continue to travel around. But this means they pass on the virus to other people.

Health officials have frequently urged people in at-risk groups to get tested for Covid-19 and for those who test negative to self-isolate for 14 days as an added precaution.

“Because people who are infected but have no symptoms are continuing to work, the virus is now spreading in offices, factories and companies,” she said.

“One of the greatest concerns is that if these infected people visit places where there are large gatherings, the outbreak will continue to escalate.”

Laos is struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus amid a surge in new cases.

The largest number of new cases was reported in Bokeo province (21), followed by Vientiane (16), Savannakhet province (6), Champassak province (5) and Oudomxay province (2).

Most of the new cases recorded in Vientiane and Bokeo province were acquired within the local community, while most cases in Champassak and Savannakhet province were imported.

Health officials have stressed the importance of vaccination to cut the infection chain.

Meanwhile, Vientiane’s Vehicle Control Unit announced this week that they will not provide services to anyone who has not been vaccinated, as part of measures to keep the virus in check.

The unit provides a number of services including mechanical checks of vehicles and issuing driving licences.

Health officials have urged people to act responsibly by isolating. Anyone who thinks they have come into contact with an infected person is asked to report to authorities and provide detailed information about their contacts so they can be traced.