Ministry of Health and WHO respond to the first case of COVID-19 in Lao PDR
13 June 2020
“Laos has two confirmed cases now. The government as well as the Ministry of Health is enhancing the measures including surveillance and screening of suspected cases, as well as strengthening the preparedness of the hospitals so we are ready to cope if more cases are reported,” said Dr Phouthone Meuangpak, Vice Minister of Health.
He added that “We also implement strict measures on Lao workers recently returning home from Thailand. All of them need to self-quarantine for 14 days and will be closely monitored by our health staff.”
Dr. Yu Lee Park, Officer in Charge at the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office, Lao PDR, stated that: “WHO is working closely with the Ministry of Health as they manage this situation. Having a case linked to travel and tourists is not a surprise in this highly interconnected world and with other countries in the region affected. The most important actions are to detect early and respond rapidly to avoid wider spread. However, everyone can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Stay at home as much as possible. Don’t organize or go to large parties or gatherings.”
About 80% of people who contract the disease suffer from mild symptoms, like an ordinary cold. However, it can also be deadly – particularly for people over the age of 60 and those with underlying health conditions. People can protect themselves and others by following advice from the Ministry of Health and WHO. In particular:
- Stay at home as much as possible and only go out if necessary
- Avoid big gatherings and crowded places
- Frequently clean hands using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing. Wash hands afterwards and discard the tissue
- Stay 2 meters away from other people, especially when out in public
- Call the 166 hotline for advice if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing
The families and close contacts of the person who has been found with COVID-19 are being closely monitored for signs of illness. Infection prevention and control measures are being strengthened for health care workers. Health care workers caring for the affected individuals are also being monitored for any symptoms.
Coronaviruses are a large family of respiratory viruses, known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The current outbreak has been caused by a strain of coronavirus that had not previously detected anywhere in the world before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
This is a new virus and knowledge is still developing about how it is spread and how it affects people. All the latest information as the international community continues to learn more is available on the WHO Website.
The Ministry of Health will continue to keep the public informed of developments via daily press briefings and the Centre of Information and Education for Health Facebook page, where relevant health education materials can also be downloaded. Information can also be found on the WHO website.