VIENTIANE, May 4 (Vientiane Times/ANN): There has been a big jump in the number of new Covid-19 cases despite tougher measures and a lockdown being imposed to contain the virus, said health officials on Tuesday.
Prior to Lao New Year, only 59 cases had been recorded in Laos but in the past few weeks more than 900 people have tested positive for the virus.
On Monday (May 3), 33 new cases were reported nationwide, bringing the total to 966, according to the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control.
The highest number of new infections was reported in Vientiane with 16, followed by Bokeo province with seven new cases. Champassak province recorded four, Oudomxay province three, and Savannakhet province three.
No deaths have been reported so far while 60 Covid patients have been discharged from hospitals.
The 33 new cases follow the announcement of 112 new cases on Sunday and 64 on Saturday, out of a total population of about 7 million people.
The positive test results were obtained after 1,810 samples were tested for the virus, according to the National Taskforce.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control under the Lao Ministry of Health Latsamy Vongkhamsao, told a press conference in Lao capital Vientiane that among the new cases, 34 were detected in Lao capital Vientiane, 11 in Champasak, 60 in Bokeo, three in Savannakhet and Vientiane, and one in Bolikhamxay province.
Latsamy said a two-month-old baby become the nation's youngest Covid-19 patient, and a 90-year-old patient is the oldest one.
Since the start of the community outbreak, fake news and misinformation have been circulating on social media, particularly Facebook, which has created alarm among those who are poorly informed about ways to stay safe from the virus.
The National Taskforce is beefing up efforts to encourage people to rely only on official sources for their information and to follow the guidelines imposed to contain the spread of the virus.
The virus is spreading quickly in Vientiane, straining hospital bed capacity, which at present stands at just 300.
Health officials are concerned that the surge in new infections could see hospitals run out of beds.
The government has arranged for temporary hospitals be set up in case it becomes necessary to accommodate the overspill.
The taskforce said more than 150 medical personnel have received training in how to run a temporary hospital and treat patients in that setting. Health officials are attempting to cut the chain of new infections by tracing people thought to be at risk, especially those who have come into contact with infected individuals.
The taskforce is also urging everyone to act responsibly by not travelling to virus-risk areas, staying at home, and complying with all government guidelines.
Health officials continue to stress the importance of social distancing, wearing a face mask and handwashing with soap or alcohol-based gel. People who take a Covid test are asked to self-isolate for 14 days even if the test result is negative.
Health authorities across the country have been instructed to expedite the vaccination of target groups and ensure that 22 per cent of the population is immunised by the end of this year. - Vientiane Times/ANN