The Prime Minister of Laos has ordered a 14-day lockdown for Vientiane Capital in the wake of a surge of coronavirus cases, while other provinces are urged to consider intensifying prevention measures.
The nation’s capital announced over twenty new cases of Covid-19 today following an outbreak believed to have begun during the Lao New Year holiday period.
Health Minister Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith read from a notice issued by the Prime Minister during a live announcement this evening.
The notice stipulates 18 measures for Covid-19 prevention and control that will come into force from 6am tomorrow (22 April) and remain in force until midnight, 5 May.
The notice calls on ministries, central organizations, and local authorities at every level to continue educating the public about the dangers posed by Covid-19, as well as ways to protect themselves and their families.
Testing centers are to be set up, while contact tracing should continue, and vaccination programs for at-risk groups are to continue despite the lockdown.
Civil servants working at government offices in Vientiane Capital are to reduce the number of workers to ensure social distancing, except for essential personnel such as soldiers, police officers, firefighters, etc. The same applies to private sector businesses.
Travel from Vientiane Capital to other provinces and from other provinces into Vientiane Capital is prohibited, except for permanent residents of Vientiane Capital who are returning home from the provinces, commercial trucks and goods, and other authorized individuals.
Residents of Vientiane Capital are prohibited from leaving their residences except for essential tasks, including grocery shopping, visiting hospitals, and undertaking essential work authorized by the government. Those who must undertake agricultural work for their livelihoods are allowed to do so but must first seek advice and authorization from their village office.
Merchants and shopkeepers are prohibited from stockpiling goods or price gouging, particularly in regard to the sale of face masks, hand gel, petrol, drinking water, and foods.
Gatherings, especially cultural and religious ones, may not exceed more than 20 people, while ceremonies such as funerals must be held with extreme care and in line with measures previously announced by the Taskforce, such as wearing face masks, using hand gel, and practicing social distancing.
All international and traditional border checkpoints and crossings will remain strictly closed for the next 14 days, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will coordinate with relevant authorities should a foreign citizen wish to return home.
Entertainment and drinking venues, karaoke bars, internet cafes, massage and spa parlors, and gyms are to be closed.
Large-scale construction projects, factories, banks, financial institutions, the stock market, stock brokerages, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies, rescue teams (emergency accidents), post offices, telecommunications providers, utilities (electricity and water companies), waste disposal services, agricultural markets, convenience stores, supermarkets, fuel stations, restaurants, and cafés may remain open.
Hotels and resorts may operate but must provide only accommodation and food services. The abovementioned businesses must adhere strictly to Taskforce guidelines, including limiting and rotating personnel so as to lower the chance of infection between workers.
Other provinces are advised to increase their Covid-19 prevention measures as necessary and in accordance with the rate of spread in their provinces.
The Prime Minister urges all organizations to collectively and strictly abide by the Order’s stipulations.