A 53-year-old Vietnamese woman has died from the novel coronavirus in Laos, marking the first death from the virus recorded in the nation, the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control announced on May 9.
Laos became the last country in ASEAN to log a fatality caused by the deadly SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the pathogen that causes Covid-19.
The woman, who worked at a karaoke club in Naxay village, Xaysettha district, Vientiane, had underlying medical issues including diabetes, which caused complications and worsened her condition in just a few days.
Her death sparked further alarm about the virus and is prompting authorities to intensify their battle against the deadly disease.
Speaking at a press conference on May 9, Department of Healthcare and Rehabilitation deputy director-general Dr Bouathep Phoumin said that unlike in 2020, many older people have contracted Covid-19. People who have existing health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are likely to be more affected and the severity of their symptoms can escalate rapidly.
Dr Bouathep urged everyone who tests positive for Covid-19 and people in at-risk groups to be honest and give accurate information to health authorities so that their contacts can be traced.
Laos’ first fatality from Covid-19 comes amid a rapid surge in infections since the Lao New Year holiday.
On May 9, 69 new cases were reported nationwide, bringing the total to 1,302. The highest number of new infections was reported in Bokeo province with 46, followed by Vientiane with 16.
Champasak province recorded three cases and Savannakhet province four cases. However, 232 people were discharged from hospitals.
The positive test results were obtained from 6,827 samples that were tested for the virus.
On May 6, 105 new cases were identified, with the highest number being in Bokeo province with 72, followed by Vientiane with 15 new cases. On Friday, 28 cases were reported, of which 10 occurred in Vientiane, eight in Bokeo province and four in Champasak province.
On May 8, 28 cases were recorded, with Bokeo province reporting 12 new cases and Vientiane eight. In Vientiane, the new infections were mostly linked to the 59th person to contract the virus, one of four so-called super spreaders who are believed to have triggered the virus outbreak.
Health officials said many of the most recent people to contract the virus had visited the same places as the 59th infected person.
Lao authorities have struggled to trace people who might have come into contact with the first group of individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 last month.
After many of the suspected contacts gave inaccurate information, authorities warned that people who deliberately concealed information would face legal action and could be charged with spreading the virus.
The National Covid-19 Taskforce met in Vientiane recently to discuss the plan of action until May 20 and the responsibilities of the sectors concerned in attempting to contain the coronavirus.
The action plan will support Prime Minister’s Order No 15/PM on the Reinforcement of Measures for the Containment, Prevention and Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, under which the lockdown has been extended until May 20.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK