The new government task force set up to prevent an outbreak of the Coronavirus in Laos has begun its work in preventing and controlling the virus. While no cases have been confirmed, two hospitals in Vientiane have become designated virus health centers.
The task force convened its first meeting on Monday, attended by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who urged the committee to speed up public awareness-raising and the testing of suspected cases.
Vientiane’s Mittaphab Hospital and 103 Hospital will both become designated health centers used to diagnose and treat suspected or confirmed cases of the virus, while extra support will be provided to provincial hospitals so they can be prepared to deal with any case.
Laos has still not confirmed any cases of the new Coronavirus, after 13 patients, including four Chinese nationals, suspected of infection turned up negative test results.
According to the Lao Post, Chinese laborers returning to work on large infrastructure projects in Laos will all be tested for the virus upon arrival.
Meanwhile, the task force is committed to providing assistance to Lao students living in China with the help of Lao embassies and consulates there.
World Health Organisation representative to Laos, Dr. Mark Jacobs, said in a press conference on Monday that the best thing for Laos to do was to try to detect cases of the virus as quickly as possible, ensure they are well-managed, and make every attempt to control the spread of the virus if confirmed in Laos.
He also emphasized the importance of monitoring travelers, and ensuring the preparedness of the health sector in its ability to care for infected patients and infection control.
In a recent interview, Dr. Phonebadith Sangxayalath, Director of the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE), Ministry of Health, stated that Laos is well equipped to test for the new Coronavirus, citing his center’s ability to test for the MERS virus in recent years, and its continued surveillance of other viruses such as H1N1. Dr. Phonebadith maintains that the same principles are applied when testing for the new Coronavirus.