Laos: Large gatherings banned, vaccinations available over New Year holiday

People are prohibited from organising gatherings or parties where one-metre social distancing cannot be observed during Lao New Year.

VIENTIANE, April 13 (Vientiane Times/ANN): Gatherings or parties where one-metre social distancing cannot be observed are prohibited, the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control has announced.

In additional instructions issued on Monday to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, the taskforce also warned people to avoid unessential travel during the Lao New Year holiday from April 14-16 (Wednesday - Friday).

The move is part of extra measures the taskforce is imposing over the new year and will remain in force until the end of April.

It comes as fears escalate that an outbreak of Covid-19 could erupt in Laos following fresh outbreaks in neighbouring countries, coupled with the newly-confirmed 50th case in Laos.

This case concerned a Thai national living in Vientiane, who had close contact with another person who entered Laos illegally from Thailand where a severe outbreak is currently taking place.

Although everyone known to have come into close contact with the 50th patient has tested negative, it is possible that there may be others who have not yet been identified, the taskforce said, citing the man’s travel history.

The Ministry of Health has been told to work with Vientiane authorities to trace any other people who might have had close contact with the patient.

The taskforce has also ordered the closure of entertainment venues, including karaoke clubs and bars, for the rest of this month.

Health authorities across the country were instructed to continue to vaccinate people over the new year holiday.

The taskforce also told the Ministry of Health to review the readiness of medical personnel, patient accommodation, medical equipment and medicines.

Security forces and local authorities were told to step up border patrols to prevent people illegal entering Laos from neighbouring countries amid reports of fresh Covid-19 outbreaks in these countries.

Media reports indicate that Thailand is undergoing a new wave of Covid-19 and that a new, more transmissible variant of the virus has infected hundreds of people daily in recent days.

The fresh outbreak in Thailand has been complicated by the spread of the UK variant, which British scientists say is 70 percent more transmissible than existing variants and more severe, the Bangkok Post reported on April 12.

So far, Laos has recorded 52 cases of Covid-19 including three cases that were confirmed on April 11 and 12. These three people are now in hospital and all previous Covid-19 patients have been discharged. There have been no reports of deaths from the virus. - Vientiane Tines/ANN
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