Updated: March 24, 2020 (22:01)
Laos has confirmed its first two cases of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
Lao Vice Minister of Health, Dr. Phouthone Muongpak, also Deputy Head of the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, made the announcement at an emergency press conference held at 14:00 today.
A 28-year-old male hotel employee from Vientiane Capital and a 36-year-old female tour guide from Vientiane Capital have tested positive for Covid-19.
The first confirmed patient had traveled to Thailand from March 5 to 8, attending a seminar in Bangkok. He returned to Laos on March 9 via Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport.
By March 23 he began to feel ill, exhibiting symptoms consistent with Covid-19, such as headaches, body aches, a sore throat and shortness of breath. He was admitted to the Mittaphab “150 Bed” Friendship Hospital in Vientiane, where he was quarantined and tested positive for the virus.
The second confirmed patient began to exhibit symptoms on 10 March and was taken to the same hospital for testing. A blood test and chest x-ray was conducted but did not find anything abnormal, and so the patient returned to a hotel to rest.
After symptoms worsened, the patient was again brought to the Mittaphab “150 Bed” Friendship Hospital and tested positive for Covid-19.
Both patients are now receiving treatment in quarantine at Mittaphab hospital where the condition of both has been described as stable.
Efforts are being made to trace their movements and locate persons with whom they may have had close contact.
“Lao health authorities are being assisted by WHO experts as well as coordinating closely with our counterparts in China, who have first-hand experience in defending against Covid-19 and treating infections,” says Vice Minister Phouthone.
A recording of the full press conference is available here (in Lao language).
This a developing story. Please stay tuned for more information.