Coronavirus: Laos suspends passenger transport as part of lockdown

In a photo from March 11, 2020, passengers pass in front of a temperature screening camera at the arrivals area of Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, Laos. PHOTO: AFP

VIENTIANE (XINHUA) - The Lao government said all international checkpoints will be closed to stop passengers from exiting and entering Laos, as the country imposed a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The transport of goods will, however, be permitted.

People from all walks of life, including expatriates in Laos, are not allowed to go out of their homes or other accommodation for non-essential purposes.

The measures will be in place from Monday (March 30) to April 19 and further changes could be made, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Monday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was told to work with the relevant sectors to assist foreign nationals who want to return to their home countries.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith on Sunday issued an executive order intensifying prevention and control measures against the coronavirus.

The measures were made following an emergency meeting between the Cabinet and the National Task force Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control on Saturday.

"Passenger transport is temporarily suspended," government spokesman Chaleun Yiabaoher told a press conference shortly after the prime minister signed the order.

Civil servants were told to work from home starting from Wednesday to April 19, except those in charge of essential duties.

People are prohibited from travelling to other localities or risky areas where infections were reported, except for essential trips permitted by the authorities such as goods transport or visits to hospital.

The order also prohibits any event with more than 10 attendees in order to avoid crowded gatherings.

Outbreak fears in Laos escalated after thousands of workers returned from neighbouring countries, especially Thailand, where a widespread outbreak was reported, said the report.

Referring to the prime minister's order, the spokesman warned distributors and merchants not to stock goods and increase prices unreasonably, especially food and medical equipment.

Mr Chaleun also warned those circulating fake news that trigger fear or panic would face punitive measures.

Laos has detected eight confirmed Covid-19 cases as of last Saturday afternoon.

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