The Lao government has announced it will close all educational institutions and suspend the issuance of visas for foreign visitors for thirty days as part of tough new measures to prevent a Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in Laos.
The Prime Minister made the announcement at a press conference as he concluded the first day of the monthly cabinet meeting for March.
All visa on arrival services for entry into Laos have been suspended, including the issuance of electronic visas and those issued at border checkpoints, according to Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.
Those already holding an entry visa will be required to present a medical certificate of good health and declare their movement history. Visa exemptions previously granted to some countries have been revoked.
Preventative measures are being rapidly stepped up, despite there being no case of the virus confirmed in Laos.
The PM also announced the closure of entertainment venues, including karaoke rooms and massage parlors.
Other types of businesses may continue ordinary operations for now by taking precautions and checking the temperature of customers and providing hand sanitizer on site.
All state and private educational institutions, from preschool to university level, will be closed until further notice, ramping up the closures after the Ministry of Education and Sports announced the closure of preschools and kindergartens earlier this week.
The PM said that four hospitals in Vientiane Capital have been designated as isolation hospitals, namely Mahosot Hospital, Mittaphab (Friendship) Hospital, 103 Hospital, and Settathirath Hospital.
Those traveling from outbreak countries, including Lao students and workers returning home for Lao New Year holidays, will be isolated in these facilities. In the provinces, patients will be isolated accordingly at provincial hospitals.
Prime Minister Thongloun also called for more public awareness campaigns to help the public understand the situation and how to take preventative measures. He urged members of the public to avoid crowded events including celebrations held for the upcoming Lao New Year holiday, as well as traditional festivals, weddings, and parties.