First Covid-19 cases in Laos

BANGKOK,  25 March 2020: Covid-19 cases have been reported in Laos and Myanmar, two countries that remained virus-free over the last three months.

Laos officially confirmed its first two Covid-19 cases on Tuesday afternoon according to a report in Laotian Times. Lao PDR’s vice minister of health, Dr Phouthone Muongpak, made the announcement at an emergency press conference.

He confirmed that a 28-year-old male hotel employee and a 36-year-old female tour guide both from Vientiane tested positive for Covid-19.

The first confirmed patient had travelled to Thailand from earlier in the month to attend a seminar in Bangkok. After displaying symptoms on his return he was admitted to the Mittaphab “150 Bed” Friendship Hospital in Vientiane, and tested positive.

The second confirmed patient began to exhibit symptoms on 10 March and was also admitted to the same hospital and tested positive.

Efforts are being made to trace their movements and locate persons who had been in close contact with them over the last 14 days.

Thousands of migrant workers from Laos and Myanmar travelled home over the last two days, and officials were forced to reopen border checkpoints that had been shuttered 22 March. There are strong fears that many of them who worked in the Thai capital could be infected, increasing the risk that more cases will be reported in Laos.

Meanwhile, authorities in Myanmar locked down a village where the 36-year-old Covid-19 patient from Chin had stayed before he showed symptoms of the deadly disease last week, according to a Myanmar Times report.

The man arrived in Yangon on 13 March and took a connecting flight to Kalay. He developed a fever one week after his arrival in the country.  He was admitted to a local hospital, 22 March and tested positive to Covid-19 disease.

In addition, Myanmar’s  Health Ministry also confirmed that a 26-year-old man who arrived from the UK on Sunday also tested positive. The man underwent mandatory quarantine after arrival at the training centre of the Health Ministry in Yangon. He is now in an isolation ward at a hospital in the city.

The government has introduced restrictions on foreign travellers starting Wednesday 25 March that require a compulsory 14-day quarantine for all arriving travellers.