VIENTIANE, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Lao authorities are preparing to purchase and stock face masks to ensure a sufficient domestic supply and considering sending them to China to contribute to its fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic.
The Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday issued an announcement, under Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith's instruction, asking the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to work with the Ministry of Health to draw up a purchase plan, according to a report from local daily Vientiane Times' Friday edition.
This will include purchases from local and overseas distributors, according to the announcement.
At-risk groups and officials, such as those devoted to the prevention work of the coronavirus, will be given face masks for free, a health ministry official told the daily.
Laos is also considering sending face masks to China according to its capacity, as Beijing is making an effort to ensure a sufficient supply of medical resources, said the report.
The Lao government warned of increasing prices in its country of face masks, gloves, hand-washing liquid, medicines and medical equipment used for protection against the virus, saying these behaviors will face harsh punishment, including criminal and civil charges.
The Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce was told to define the sale price of the products in question and to publicize the prices widely.
The prime minister praised the Chinese government for taking "timely and effective" measures to control the outbreak of the virus. He applauded the good cooperation and information sharing the Chinese government has done, which has enabled Laos and countries across the globe to put in place preventive measures to contain the virus.
The Lao government and people expressed heartfelt thanks to China for extending assistance and care to the 242 Lao nationals in China, especially the 37 students in Wuhan.