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PM Extends Covid Restrictions

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has extended a prime ministerial order aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 for another 15 days, based on the increase in the number of imported cases of the dangerous virus, which has killed seven people in Laos.

Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Khamjane Vongphosy, signed a new government notice on August 3, which extends the order until August 18 beyond the original expiry date of today.

Prime Minister’s Order No. 15, which came into force in April, is designed to provide a legal basis for central and local authorities to restrict people’s movements and business operations in order to slow the spread of Covid-19. So far more than 7000 people in Laos have been infected with the virus.

According to the new notice, the reason for the extension of the order is the growing number of infections among Lao workers returning home after losing their jobs due to lockdowns in neighbouring countries.

In addition, the spread of the Delta and Alpha variants of the virus, which are highly transmissible, is putting more pressure on the government to extend the order, which supports central and local authorities to prevent illegal border crossings and requires returnees to be quarantined.

Among the new measures to be imposed under the extended order is the requirement for people entering Laos to install the Lao KYC app on their smartphones. The app allows cases of the virus to be tracked so that authorities can locate infected individuals and place virus outbreak areas under lockdown.

The app also gives users information relating to the Covid situation in Laos which they can use as a reference when making personal and business decisions.

The government has also ordered provincial authorities to discuss with the relevant sectors the possibility of setting up more quarantine centres to accommodate the growing number of returning migrant workers.

Provinces that have insufficient facilities, medical supplies and personnel could request aid from other sources to ensure that areas with virus outbreaks have access to essential resources.

To address concerns that some people who have completed the compulsory 14-day quarantine period are testing positive after their return home, the government has ordered district and village authorities to keep people in quarantine for another 14 days.

The notice from the PM’s Office also orders the continuation of Covid control measures, including regular border patrols to prevent people entering Laos illegally. Other measures include rapid testing to track the spread of the virus, and the closure of nightclubs, karaoke bars, cinemas, spas, internet cafés, and gaming shops.

Sports that involve physical contact such as football and boxing remain banned, along with festivals and all types of social gatherings.

People will also be prevented from entering and leaving villages classified as red zones.

The government is calling on everyone in Laos to comply with the measures imposed by the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control so that authorities can keep the virus in check.