Laos Walks Back Kappa Variant Report

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Covid-19 update

Laos has said that the Kappa variant of Covid-19 had been erroneously confirmed during sequencing on a recent imported case.

Dr. Sanong Thongsana led the announcement by the National Taskforce today, handing over to Dr. Lattanaxay Phetsouvanh to announce the new cases.

Dr. Lattanaxay said that after 2,184 tests conducted over the last 24 hours, 44 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in Laos to 2,400.

Of the new cases, Vientiane Capital saw one imported case, Vientiane Province recorded two new cases of community transmission, Khammouane recorded three imported cases, and Savannakhet recorded 17 new imported cases.

Meanwhile, Champasack confirmed 21 new imported cases of Covid-19.

An influx of Lao laborers returning from Thailand has meant the country now has 50 quarantine centers, with 4,033 people under quarantine.

Kappa Variant Falsely Reported

Laos first recorded the presence of the Kappa variant of Covid-19 on 2 July, however this has now been confirmed to have been falsely reported.

Dr. Lattanaxay spoke about the danger of new mutations of the virus, saying that variants had been confirmed among imported cases.

He said that all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties. But some changes affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the severity of disease it causes, or the performance of tests, vaccines, treatments, or other public health measures. To date, the original strain, Alpha and Delta variants have been detected in Laos.

When sequencing was done recently, an imported case in Lao PDR was found to be infected with a variant of COVID-19 of the B.1.621 lineage. This specific lineage is not classified by WHO as a Variant of Concern (VOC) or a Variant of Interest (VOI). This case was wrongly referred to as being infected with the Kappa variant. The lineage is classified as alert for further monitoring.

Dr. Lattanaxy said the measures for preventing transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19 remain the same, regardless of the variant.

He said that everyone must continue to wear a mask, wash hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, keep at least one-meter distance from others, and if possible, avoid crowds, close-contact settings, and confined spaces.

In addition, everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. Combined, these measures will protect those most vulnerable from COVID-19 and help to prevent further outbreaks in the country.