A notice issued by the Prime Minister’s Office appears to suggest that Laos could enter into bilateral Fast-Track immigration policies with Vietnam and China.
The notice, which began circulating on social media this afternoon, states that the risks and challenges of Covid-19 remain steep and that a second wave could occur at any time and without warning due to continual outbreaks among neighboring countries and around the world. The notice continues that because of this, it is necessary to redouble efforts in regard to measures for prevention and control of Covid-19 to ensure that a second wave does not occur in Laos.
The notice stresses the need for the Ministry of Public Security to ensure its immigration officials strictly carry out their duties in border control and enforcement, and that individuals found illegally entering the country must be tested for Covid-19 prior to being sent for quarantine in a government-designated location, and that the local population must be informed when such illegal entry occurs.
Secondly, police in Vientiane Capital and all provinces have been instructed to redouble efforts to ensure that entertainment venues and karaoke bars remain closed. Those that violate regulations are to be warned and fined or risk having their operating license revoked.
Thirdly, the notice suggests that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should coordinate with the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control and other relevant agencies to continue to prepare for the implementation of a Fast-Track immigration policy with Vietnam and China.
Finally, the notice calls on local authorities to continue disseminating information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, including the dangers and risks involved and the potential for a second wave. It asks that local authorities continue to inform residents of prevention measures.
According to Lao Phattana Daily, the Fast-Track immigration policy discussed in the notice refers to bilateral legislation that would allow certain privileges for individuals such as diplomatic staff, technical experts, and foreign labor for special projects, in relation to entry and exit procedures, namely that the 14-day quarantine period would be waived. At present, the new policy is being deliberated with the countries of Vietnam and China and remains under consideration.
The Fast-Track idea has raised concerns about a second wave of infection in Laos from imported cases after groups of Chinese had been found entering northern Laos illegally in recent weeks, and a Korean national became the 20th case of Covid-19 in Laos after more than a hundred days without an infection.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has been plunged back into a second wave after local transmission of a new strain of the coronavirus was found in Danang, with the country now suffering 384 active cases.