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Weekly Humanitarian Flights Organised To Repatriate Lao Overseas

Source: Vientiane Times

Lao students who have completed their studies and government officials participating in short-term training courses overseas will be able to return home via weekly scheduled humanitarian flights.

Lao students at education institutions overseas must submit the necessary travel documentation to the Lao embassy in the destination country after they have finished their studies, according to a report from the Lao News Agency (KPL).

Deputy Head of the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, Associate Prof. Dr Phouthone Muongpak confirmed the flights during a press conference on Monday after the government previously suspended charters flights which had operated with some countries for some time.

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In its latest assessment on pandemic prevention, the government has also decided to continue imposing the COVID-19 prevention measures enforced since the end of June.

He said the flights would cover returning government officials and Lao individuals participating in short-term training in foreign countries. The flights do not apply to technical experts, diplomats, and students involved in ongoing studies abroad.

Nevertheless, foreign diplomats, the staff of international organisations, experts, investors, businesspeople, technical personnel, and workers deemed essential to take up missions in Laos can enter the country upon approval by the task force committee, he added.

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He noted the flights must conduct temperature checks on the pilots, flight attendants, and passengers before departing to Laos in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus here.

According to a report by the Ministry of Health, the flights are a welcome demonstration of the Lao people’s humanitarian aid to compatriots abroad during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Charter flights have also assisted in the transportation of experts as well as shipments of essential medical supplies to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Although border closures have helped curb the COVID-19 threat, their impacts have been significant to socio-economic development, particularly on tourism revenue.