By Teddy Cambosa

Health officials in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos have announced that the Vientiane, the capital of the country, will be undergoing a two-week lockdown after a rare incident of COVID-19 outbreak, believed to be linked to its bordering nation of Thailand.

Image by krustovin august from Pixabay

According to Phonepadith Xangsayrath, director general of the Ministry of Health’s National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology, the ministry has recorded new 28 COVID-19 cases as of April 21, and that they have samples from many of the people who were in contact with the entertainment venues attended by four previous COVID-19 infected persons, and found that 26 people in Vientiane have tested positive for the virus.

“Two Lao workers returning from Thailand also tested positive for the same virus in southern Champassak province, which brings our total number of cases to 88. We’re now testing more people in the capital and in some of the high-risk provinces,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phoutone Muongpak, Lao Vice-Minister of Health and Head of the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, has noted a spike in the number of cases of infection in the country since early April.

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“Now, our country is at high risk of having a COVID-19 outbreak in the community, especially in the capital Vientiane and in Savannakhet province,” he said.

He added, “I would like to urge our people to comply strictly with the prime minister’s previous orders by stepping up border controls, stopping illegal crossings, and then arresting and sending to quarantine centers anyone who enters Laos illegally,” he said.

Vientiane will now be shut down from April 22 to May 5, Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh announced on Wednesday. City residents must remain home unless buying groceries or seeking medical help, and travel between the capital and the provinces is now banned.

Teddy Cambosa is a graduating BS Biology student and a former campus journalist at Batangas State University.