Laos still free of COVID-19: health officials

Source: Xinhua| 2020-03-16 15:09:04|Editor: zyl
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VIENTIANE, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Lao health authorities have confirmed that several foreign visitors to Laos, as well as recently returning Lao students who study in Vietnam, are not infected with COVID-19.

Three British nationals who arrived recently via Vietnam Airlines were detained and checked by local authorities and found not to have coronavirus infections, local daily Vientiane Times on Monday quoted Director General of the Communicable Disease Control Department under Lao Ministry of Health Rattanaxay Phetsavanh as saying.

"Lao authorities are currently monitoring them as they are under quarantine at hotels in Luang Prabang province for 14 days since March 2," he said on Friday.

The foreigners planned to visit northern Lao provinces of Luang Prabang and Xieng Khuang as well as the capital, according to the official.

Meanwhile, officials also checked six Lao students who study in Vietnam and went to southern Lao province of Champassak recently. All six tested negative for COVID-19, and they have been quarantined from their families for 14 days as a precaution, according to the Ministry of Health.

Laos has imposed uniform standards of self-monitoring and quarantine for the staff of international organizations, business executives, and workers.

All people entering Laos with no COVID-19 symptoms are required to undergo self-monitoring for 14 days. During this period, people may go to work and carry out other essential activities but are advised to avoid going to crowded places or public events.

Home quarantine is imposed on inbound passengers who have no flu-like symptoms but have been in close contact with a person carrying the virus.

"Such passengers need to undergo home quarantine for 14 days and let their family members take care of their daily needs," Lao Deputy Minister of Health Phouthone Muongpak told a meeting in capital Vientiane on Friday in the presence of the WHO's Coordinator Reiko Tsuyuoka.

Companies or projects that employ such workers are required to allocate dormitories for this purpose. The deputy minister said the government had no specific quarantine facilities due to limited funds.

Nevertheless, anyone showing COVID-19 flu-like symptoms at a port of entry will be taken directly to a hospital for diagnosis. Lao health authorities have tightened scanning procedures in an attempt to prevent the virus from entering Laos.

They have also told foreign airlines to take the temperature of their pilots, flight attendants and passengers before flying to Laos.