VIENTIANE, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) handed over personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Lao Ministry of Health to support the country's response to and preparedness for the COVID-19 in Vientiane on Wednesday.
UNICEF Representative Octavian Bivol handed the essential supplies over to Phouthone Muongpak, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Health during an official handover ceremony held in Lao capital Vientiane.
The supplies, which include surgical masks, gowns, aprons, caps and gloves, as well as face-shields and coveralls, will be distributed to designated referral hospitals for key front-line staff, working for the COVID-19 response, according to Lao News Agency (KPL).
"Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, but these supplies help us to prepare and equip hospitals around the country," said the vice minister.
The 17 cubic meters of supplies are parts of UNICEF's overall support to the Lao government in the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, which also includes communications, media support, education, and child protection. A further 600 boxes of supplies have already being procured by UNICEF and will be handed over this week, said KPL.
"If COVID-19 cases do appear in the Lao PDR, it is essential that the doctors and nurses at the front line of the response are fully protected," said UNICEF Representative Octavian Bivol, "if we each make the effort to wash our hands properly with soap and water, and to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze, we will be helping to prevent any virus from spreading."
UNICEF also plans to organize COVID-19 training for 540 key health workers across all 18 provinces in Laos, as well as further media participation workshops for journalists around the country.