Covid-19: Authorities are now fearing a major outbreak of Delta variant

VIENTIANE, Sept 15 (Vientiane Times/ANN): Locally-transmitted cases of Covid-19 are on the rise in Vientiane and other provinces, sparking fears that this could cause a major community outbreak as most cases involve the highly contagious Delta variant.

Ceremonies such as funerals and gatherings to celebrate the birth of a baby, which are attended by large numbers of people, are one of the main causes of new clusters reported in Laos, health officials have warned.

Nine of the 24 community-acquired cases recorded in Vientiane on Tuesday were among people who attended a funeral in Pakxe city, Champassak province, on September 5.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control, Dr Rasamy Vongkhamxao, urged members of the public to avoid partying and going to at-risk and crowded places, including attendance at religious events.

More cases of the virus were reported last month, with the outbreak being more widespread than in the past because of the spread of the Delta variant.

In August alone, more than 8,700 new cases were recorded, along with seven deaths, according to the Centre of Information and Education for Health.

On Tuesday, 127 new cases were confirmed across the country, bringing the total number of Covid infections to 17,682.

Of the new cases, 54 were locally-transmitted, with 24 reported in Vientiane, nine in Khammuan province, four in Saravan province, four in Savannakhet province, and 13 in Champassak province.

Of the 73 imported cases, 11 were identified in Vientiane, two in Luang Prabang province, 30 in Khammuan province, six in Saravan province, and 24 in Savannakhet province.

The 24 community-acquired cases recorded in Vientiane include two in Armone village in Xaysettha district, two in Done Nokkhoum village, one in Dongnaxok Tai, Sikhottabong district, and two in Xaysavang village, Xaythany district.

A natural resource and environment official was among those who tested positive for Covid after attending the funeral in Pakxe city. The woman worked at her office from September 7-10 in a room shared by 10 people.

The National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control said recently that several provinces, notably Savannakhet and Bokeo, were currently at the Level 2 stage and could potentially be raised to Level 3.

Level 2: A community outbreak of Covid-19 in any one area or population, but no clear evidence of the outbreak being widespread.

Level 3: Community transmission of Covid-19 is not restricted to a particular area or group of people and there is an indication that the outbreak will become more widespread.

The national taskforce did not indicate whether Champassak, Savannakhet and Khammuan are also classified as Level 2 even though these provinces are struggling to contain the spread of the virus and deal with migrant workers returning from Thailand. - Vientiane Times/ANN

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