Laos has received praise from representatives of international health organizations for its containment of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith declared an initial victory over Covid-19 following the discharge of all 19 confirmed cases from hospital on 10 June, with no new cases for 59 days.
He said at a press conference that Laos had “gained an important victory in the first campaign against this vicious enemy,” adding that it was a significant advance in the battle against Covid-19.
Dr. Howard Sobel, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Laos, applauded the government of Laos for its success in containing the country’s first Covid-19 outbreak.
“Lao PDR’s response to its first outbreak of Covid-19 was exemplary. The government anticipated the arrival of this terrible disease and did all the right things to stop it spreading,” said Dr. Sobel.
“This undoubtedly saved many lives. It has been an honor for WHO to work with the Ministry of Health and the National Task Force Committee during this difficult, but successful, time in Lao PDR. But, as the Prime Minister has said, this is only an initial success. Covid-19 is still spreading in many countries around the world. We must all continue to prepare for the next wave of infections here.”
Imported cases still remain a threat, however, says Dr. Sobel.
According to a report by Reuters, the low number of cases in Laos initially had world experts skeptical, however, a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Laos said that there was no reason not to believe the country’s reports.
“It’s difficult to hide [coronavirus cases], so I believe it,” said Ludovic Arnout, IFRC Asia Pacific Coordinator for Water, Sanitation, Health and Care, based in Laos.
He cited a lack of reports of illness in social media or in rural areas, at the same time praising the Lao government’s efforts at disseminating information across the country.
Health experts also credited the government’s decision to cancel Lao New Year (Pi Mai) as an advantageous step toward containing the spread of the coronavirus.
At the same press conference, Prime Minister Thongloun called on each person, family, and organization to take this opportunity to adapt their lives. In other words, to live the ‘new normal’ by becoming more self-aware, adopting new practices, and leading more disciplined lives to avoid a second Covid-19 outbreak.