Local authorities across Laos are stepping up border controls to prevent people entering the country illegally from Thailand and avoiding screening for Covid-19.
It is common for returning migrants to enter Laos undetected by crossing the Mekong River at places where there are no immigration facilities. This means they are not screened for the virus or quarantined as the regulations require.
The National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control recently instructed authorities in Savannakhet, Saravan and Xayaboury provinces to record the details of people entering Laos. These provinces are considered at high risk for the spread of the virus as they border populous Thailand, and the border between Laos and Thailand is porous.
Local authorities continue to face challenges in monitoring people at border crossings and providing assistance to returning workers affected by the pandemic.
Savannakhet, Saravan and Xayaboury authorities are strengthening Covid-19 screening and quarantine procedures for Lao nationals returning from Thailand.
In Borikhamxay province, everyone entering border districts is being scrutinised in an attempt to prevent the spread of Covid-19, with a particular emphasis on Pakkading, Pakxan and Thaphabath districts. These districts are considered at high risk for the spread of the virus as they border Thailand.
Normal virus prevention measures such as wearing face masks and using hand sanitiser are also being encouraged. As of April 10, a total of 3,272 people had been tested for Covid-19. To date, 58 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Laos but no deaths from the virus have been reported.
The government has imposed uniform standards of self-monitoring and quarantine for the staff of international organisations, business executives and general workers entering the country. A 14-day period of self-monitoring is required for everyone entering Laos even if they have no Covid-19 symptoms.
Thailand on April 18 recorded yet another daily record number of Covid-19 cases at 1,767, bringing the accumulated number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began to 42,352. Two new deaths were reported, raising the toll to 101, according to the Bangkok Post.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK