VIENTIANE: Laos confirmed no new Covid-19 (Coronavirus) cases for 23 consecutive days, with the total number of confirmed cases remaining at 19, Laos Deputy Minister of Health Phouthone Meaungpak told a press conference on Tuesday (May 5).
The National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control announced that it had been monitoring 617 people at 137 accommodation centers across the country, with 358 people self-isolating at home.
The success of controlling the Covid-19 pandemic also meant that the government is easing up the tough measures and allowing establishments to kick-start their businesses.
The Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism has released guidelines for operators of restaurants, resorts, and other tourism-related businesses in line with new regulations prescribed by the Prime Minister’s Office that are to enter into effect from May 5-17.
Laos has also effectively controlled the spread of Covid-19 within its borders.
However, the government is not ruling out the possibility of a second outbreak and is taking serious preventative precautions even as it moves to ease lockdown restrictions starting 4 May. The new, loosened restrictions aim to reduce the negative impact the outbreak has had on the economy.
Tourism and other service-related industries have been particularly hard hit by the outbreak. However, starting 4 May, restaurants, hotels, resorts, guesthouses, coffee shops, barbershops, and beauty salons will be allowed to operate, albeit with various preventative measures in place to ensure the health and safety of both employees and customers.
The Ministry has outlined several recommendations for workers. Business owners must educate and inform all employees on proper prevention measures and other information on handwashing and monitoring of symptoms.
Employees must be subjected to temperature screening before entering work premises. If anyone is discovered to have a body temperature over 37.5 degrees celsius, the Covid-19 hotline (165 or 166) must be consulted. During work, employees must wear a face mask and/or hairnets and must remain at least one meter apart from each other at all times. Employees must cover their noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing.
In addition, a washbasin (with soap) or hand gel (70% alcohol content or higher) must be provided near the entrance, restrooms, and cashier area so that individuals can sanitize themselves. Gloves, disinfectants, and detergents must be provided for staff in charge of sanitation to clean frequently touched items such as menus, tables, doors and knobs, and other equipment. The aforementioned items must be disinfected after use.
Customers must undergo temperature screening as well. Those with body temperatures above 37.5 degrees celsius may not enter the business premises. The Covid-19 hotline must be contacted for further advice.
Customers must wash their hands with soap or make use of the hand gel that has been provided by the service establishment upon entering and exiting. Face-masks must also be worn. Furthermore, customers also must maintain a physical distance of at least one meter from each other. Customers must cover their noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing.
All establishments must allow for good air circulation and avoid crowding. Tables and seats must be positioned to maintain a distance of a least a meter. The floors, walls, ceilings, tables, and restrooms must all be cleaned and disinfected using sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or other disinfectants twice daily (day and night). Entrances and exits must be clearly designated.
Entertainment venues, beer gardens, bars, cinemas, karaoke venues, spa and massage parlors, casinos, night markets, indoor fitness gyms, outdoor team sports venues are prohibited from re-opening. Furthermore, weddings and other cultural events that necessitate a large number of participants are prohibited (the only exception is funerals, for which health guidelines must be followed).
As of Monday, Laos has tested 2,223 suspected cases with 19 cases tested positive, and nine patients have recovered.
The nine patients, including six cases in Lao capital Vientiane and three cases in Luang Prabang province, have recovered.
Another 10 infected cases are treated in designated hospital -- Mittaphab Hospital (Hospital 150) in Lao capital Vientiane.
Laos announced its first two Covid-19 confirmed cases on March 24. - Xinhua/Asian News Network