Laos is still free from COVID-19, with 53 suspected cases testing negative, Deputy Minister of Health Phouthone Muongpak told foreign diplomats on Thursday.

Laos has an adequate surveillance system whose network covers all provinces in the country, said Phouthone, who is also deputy head of the taskforce committee for COVID-19 prevention and control in the country.

Samples from each of the suspected cases were tested three times at three different labs — the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology, the Pasteur Institute (Institut Pasteur du Laos) in Vientiane, and the Microbiology Laboratory at Mahosot Hospital.

In addition, samples from the suspected cases tested in Lao labs were sent to WHO’s lab in Australia for diagnosis.

Phouthone admitted that it was a challenge to prevent the virus from spreading into Laos, but the no-virus scenario is indeed possible, thanks to the government’s prompt response.

Health authorities have tightened scanning at ports of entry into Laos and imposed self-monitoring and quarantine measures.

Laos has imposed uniform standards of 14-day self-monitoring and quarantine for the staff of international organizations, business executives, and workers. During this period, people may go to work and carry out other essential activities but are advised to avoid going to crowded places or public events.

Home quarantine is imposed on passengers who have no flu-like symptoms but have been in close contact with a person carrying the virus.

Quarantine at designated facilities imposed on those entering Laos in groups, such as students or workers, applies to any group that has had close contact with a COVID-19 patient. Quarantine facilities can include the dormitories of the workers or students.

Anyone showing COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms at a port of entry will be taken directly to a hospital for diagnosis.

Source: China ASEAN Business Council