Lao Govt rejects lockdown proposal on Vientiane

LAOS, April 14 (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government has decided not to lock down the country's capital city Vientiane after considering a request by city authorities to impose the drastic measure until the end of this month.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a notice on Tuesday (April 13) concerning the decision, citing guidance given by Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh.

Vientiane authorities submitted the lockdown proposal to the government on the same day, following fears of a possible community outbreak of the virus.

Concerns escalated after a Thai businessman living in the capital tested positive for Covid-19 on April 11, becoming the 50 th confirmed case in Laos. A week earlier, he had been in close contact with another person who had entered Laos from Thailand illegally.

Although everyone known to have come into close contact with the 50th Covid patient has tested negative, it is possible that there may be others who have not yet been identified, according to the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, citing the man’s travel history.

Fears of a possible outbreak intensified as people were expected to get together to celebrate Lao New Year from April 14-16, a time when people meet in groups to have fun and to observe traditional customs.

Mounting concern prompted the taskforce to impose additional measures to keep the virus in check.

However, in its latest notice the government said that based on investigations into the infected man’s movements and the taskforce’s assessment of the situation, the virus could still be contained.

But a lockdown, it added, would definitely have an adverse impact on society.

To manage the situation, the government told Covid-19 taskforces at all levels to strictly enforce virus prevention and control measures, including the recently added rules.

These include stepping up the search for anyone having had close contact with the Thai businessman, closure of all entertainment venues including karaoke clubs and bars for the rest of this month, and prohibiting large public gatherings and parties. Wedding ceremonies must be limited to family members and traditional rituals only.

Addressing the daily press briefing on the same day (April 13), the national Covid-19 taskforce advised members of the public not to panic but to remain vigilant.

The taskforce said that the movements of the Thai businessman that had been circulated on social media, suggesting that he went to a wedding party in a restaurant and visited several entertainment venues, were false rumours.

The taskforce called on the public to source news updates and information from official sources so that they would not be misinformed.

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