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Temporary Easing of Lockdown Restrictions

Source: Task Force Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control Press briefing 01/05/2020 [Via Lao National Television-English News Program] / English Translation: Souphaksone Silaphet

Today’s press briefing is chaired by Mr. Somdy Duangdy, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance who is also the Chairman of the National Task Force Committee for COVID-19 prevention and control has briefed us the current updates regarding the plans for most 3/5/2020 lockdown….

COVID-19 has caused devastation around the world and it spreads quickly and with increase in severity at each time. As of today, the virus has killed over 200,000 people and infected over 3 million worldwide and continues to infect and create casualties every day. Because of this we do not know when will be the possible for us to completely stop the spread or eliminate this virus completely. The virus has caused tremendous effects on the socio-economic situation of the world.

In the Lao PDR, during more than 1 month of the implementation of the PM order 06, issued on 29/3/2020 which saw many issuing of notices and guidelines of the National Task Force Committee and those involved, we are able to control the spread of the virus from 12/4/2020 until now where we see no new infected cases. Currently we have a total of 19 infected patients, 8 have recovered and is at home quarantining, and 11 patients will mild symptoms and conditions are normal.

As we can see now that the current situation of COVID-19 has relaxed; no new infected cases in weeks, reduced numbers of Lao workers returning to Laos, and quarantine facilities has also been improved.

Due to the assistance from many countries, and INGOs and the public Lao PDR has been praised for our good preventative and control measures and able to stop the virus from spreading.

On behalf of the Lao government and the Task Force, I would like to express my congratulations and thanks to every sectors involved as well as local administrations, Lao citizens and foreign expats for following the PM Order 06 in stopping the spread of the virus. Also, I would like to recognize the hard working doctors and nurses who has tirelessly sacrifice themselves in their work in preventing and control of the virus and treating patients.

The success that I have mentioned is only just the beginning. Moving forward, we are facing a challenge of the 2nd wave of infection and other challenges due to the virus’ behavior that will continue to heavily impacted on our socio-economic situation as well as our national security. Therefore, in order of to continue with the measures and guidelines of the preventative and control of the COVID-19 the government and task force has created policies that have the least impact and allows the community to return to normal; be at peace, organized and safe. We advised the following guidelines….

1) All ministries, government organizations, central and provincial level, army, police, the Lao multi-ethnic people and foreign expats to observe, prevent and control the spread of the virus and to solve the COVID-19 issue responsibly. Consider this as a priority during this time, similar in the time of war.

2) All citizens, government employees, army, police, investors, and foreigners that live in Laos to continue with the practice of preventative and control measures; social distancing (1 meters or away from another person), wash hands with soap or with alcohol gel 70 % or more, wear face masks, scan temperature daily, and clean and disinfect regularly under the guidelines of the Task Force. This has become the NEW NORMAL for us.

3) The Taskforce and local administration at levels, and all concerned involved to continue to advertise and promote the information and dangers of COVID-19 for everyone to be aware of. Also to inform the public in detail the many guidelines and measures that is easily understood through all media outlets. To identify and prevent the spread of fake news, rumors, or news that disrupts our society.

4) The government has approved the loosen of some restrictions and guidelines in order to lessen the impacts on the society and economy, but must continue to apply preventative and control measures…(above)

1.1.Allow all governments, organizations, NGOs and companies to be open and staff to return to work by alternating staff between days on duty in the office and apply preventative and control measures (above). If organizations staff can work online, may do so.

1.2.EVERYONE (Lao, and foreigners) are allowed to come out in public and travel around your city (be it the capital or the provinces). But must ensure preventative and control measures.

1.3.Allow training and meetings within the capital or provinces but must restrict attendees numbers maintain strict preventative measures, especially social distancing, handwashing stations, temperature scans and thorough cleaning and disinfecting.

1.4. Allow the public to go outside to conduct non-team sports activities such as; walking, running, cycling, aerobic dancing, golfing but must practice strict social distancing in public.

1.5.Allow shops or businesses to be open as usual but must apply strict preventative measures (above); these apply to, restaurants, food stalls, retail shops, barber and beauty salon, fresh markets, shopping mall, whole stores, super market, cafes, mechanic shops, car wash, drinking water factories, and ice factories.

1.6.Factories and large projects that can fulfill the requirements set by the Task Force advice # 031/ສພກ maybe allowed to continue business operations. For projects issued by central level, will appoint an inspection team to verify, and record all the projects. Especially the ones that require a large amount of man power. For the local provincial projects, the provincial Task force will be responsible for the inspection and verification.

1.7.Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of National Defense, and Ministry of Public Security, to prepare to open your respective educational institutions starting from Primary school year 5. Secondary year 4 and year, Schools of National defense, and Schools of Public security to be open from 18/5/2020 but must implement strict measures (above). As for universities and other levels of educational institutions continue to remain closed until further notice.

1.8. Allow foreigners who are in Laos for work, study, or tourists to return to their home country as desired (but must comply with the travel requirements of their home country or country/countries of transits). For Lao students or workers who wish to return to go back to school or work abroad may do so according to the policy of the host country.

5) Strictly continue to adhere to the PM Order 06 issued 29/03/2020 by complying to the following….

1.1.Restrict interprovincial travel. Allow only when necessary travels such as for official work, study, business, medical purposes, death, transporting goods, and transporting sick patients.

1.2.CLOSE ALL, entertainment venues, beer gardens, bars, cinemas, karaoke rooms/shops, massage and spas, casinos, night markets, indoor gyms, outdoor sporting complexes that has close contact team sports such as; soccer, basketball, volleyball, marathon events, boxing, cock fighting, petanque, and any sporting events that has more than 10 spectators and cannot maintain social distancing.

1.3.NOT ALLOW for large gathering of more than 10 people which cannot maintain social distancing (parties, weddings, etc).

1.4.CLOSE ALL Traditional, local and international borders to ALL travelers, EXCEPT those who are authorized by the task force and transport trucks.

1.5.Temporary halt the issuing of all visas from travelers who are traveling from places with high infection numbers. With EXCEPTIONS TO… visas for experts and professionals that requires them to come and conduct their work in Laos. ALL travelers entering Laos must be screened, tested and quarantined for 14 days at designated facilities.

The Task Force is appointed by the government to interpret and expand on the details for implementation. Please See PM Notice 524 issued 1/5/2020.

To the public, the guidelines mentioned are temporary measures to prevent and control the virus and will begin from 4th to 17th May 2020 (4-17/05/2020). If we have reports of new infection cases in 1 province, we will restrict travel in and out of that province and re-install all the preventative and control measures and guidelines and the local Task Force committee will be responsible in implementing and reporting. If we have new infection cases in 2 or more provinces, we will go back to reinstall the lockdown measures on the national level.

I ask everyone to adhere to these measures and guidelines, but most importantly social distancing, wearing face masks, and washing hands. I call everyone to cooperate, be of one heart and mind to prevent the spread of the virus. “We must unite to in the fight to protect from COVID-19, it is everyone’s duty.”

On the occasion of the 130thanniversary of the international labor day the 1st May, I would like to wish all workers good health, and success in your work and be safe from COVID-19.

Dr. Phouthone Meungpak also updated the reports on the current COVID-19 situation in Laos.

2,097 people at border entry …

– 1289 from Thailand (8 Lao workers through Chongmek borders, the rest are drivers)

– 195 from China (drivers)

– 613 from Vietnam (drivers)

Everyone where screened and had health checked, no symptoms.

8 Lao workers (2 from Savannakhet and 6 from Champasack) and all were tested and sent to quarantine in their respective provinces.

From 30/4/2020, we’ve tested 94 people;…

– 79 suspected cases: 2 Vientiane, 1 Bolikhamxay, 50 Xayaboury (all electrical engineers fixing electricity grid), 26 at Mittaphab Hospital (11 already infected patient and 15 doctors and nurses)

– 11 patients (retested)

– 4 Lao workers.

All tested whether they have symptoms or not. It is 19 day we have No new infected case.

As of today, we have tested a total of 2021 people, 19 infected cases. 8 have recovered and 11 remaining patient.

As of today, we have 617 people quarantined at 175 facilities and 424 people are quarantined at home all around the country. Up until now we’ve tested at total of 568 Lao workers from abroad and found no positive.

All the 11 patients are being treated at Mittaphab hospital. All are in mild cases and their conditions have become normal. Even so, WE do not relax our efforts we have 2 more days until the end of the lockdown on 3/5/2020 and another 14 day days of loosen restrictions. We need to follow the notice with details to be published shortly.

Lastly Mr. Somdy mentioned that the implementation of all these measures is to protect everyone and prevent the spread instead of trying resolve it when it happens. We ask everyone that any information that is not official or is not detailed yet should not be published until it is verified.

Contact our outline 165, 166, or 02054066777 regarding all COVID-19 inquiries.

Please refer to official media outlets for clarification, the government has warn the public about reading from social media pages that are not verified by the government. Vientiane Times, Lao National Television-News Group and the official MoH page being a few of them you can trust.

(English Translation: Souphaksone Silaphet)