Laos to join special Asean summits on virus response

  • Laos
  • Thursday, 09 Apr 2020

VIENTIANE, April 9 (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Saleumxay Kommasith on Thursday joined a regional video conference, which discussed preparations for the special Asean and Asean plus 3 summits on COVID-19 response.

According to a media release from the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 25th Meeting of the Asean Coordinating Council, which was chaired by Vietnam, agreed to host the two special summits in the near future.

The key agenda of the summits would be the regional collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is now posing a major challenge for the international community to maintain health, economic and social security.

During the long-distance video conference, the international participants highly valued Asean efforts and cooperation to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

As evidence, the regional delegation cited the successful hosting of the special Asean Coordinating Council in Laos in February as well as the first video conference of the Asean Coordinating Council Working Group on health emergencies in March.

Other Asean video conferences covering health minister meetings and health working groups also suggest the regional bloc has been strengthening efforts in the fight against COVID-19, which has infected more than 1.4 million people and killed 81,000 around the world.

During the video conference, the Asean delegation reaffirmed the need for the regional community to continue their close cooperation as well as strengthen collaboration with dialogue and development partners, in particular, the WHO, through existing Asean mechanisms.

On top of that, the meeting participants reaffirmed close Asean cooperation to maintain regional economic stability, notably the maintenance of regional supply chains for goods, medicines and essential medical supplies.

According to the media release, during the video conference, Mr Saleumxay and his delegation detailed the Lao government’s efforts and measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Over the past several weeks, the Lao government has established central, provincial and district taskforce committees to prevent and control the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, authorities are implementing the national lockdown policy, including closing down local and international border checkpoints and restricting travel within the country.

Under the lockdown policy, members of the public have been ordered to stay at home, public officials have been told to work from home, and gatherings of 10 people or more are banned. Schools, entertainment venues and major shopping centres have also been ordered to shut down.

To encourage public participation in the fight against COVID-19, Mr Saleumxay said the government paid great attention to raising awareness on the dangers of the virus as well as protection methods.

Lao authorities have designated public hospitals to treat COVID-19 infected people. Hospital beds, medical personnel and equipment have been prepared to cope with the growing number of cases.

Authorities had also introduced measures to minimise the economic impact of the coronavirus on the livelihoods of Lao people, Mr Saleumxay added.

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