Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Laos continues to enforce COVID-19 controls as of July 8. Outbound travelers required to present medical certificates.

  • Alert Begins: 08 Jul 2020 09:00 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: International travel ban, quarantine measures, business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Laos continue to enforce controls to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of July 8. The government announced outbound travelers would have to obtain a medical certificate from designated hospitals stating that they are free from COVID-19. Inbound travel restrictions are in effect through at least July 31. Most inbound travel remains banned, with exceptions for resident diplomats and essential workers, among others. Issuance of tourist visas, visas-on-arrival, and visa exemptions remain suspended. People wishing to enter Laos must test negative for COVID-19 at a medical institution in the country where they come from within 72 hours before the trip. Officials will require symptomatic arrivals to undergo tests and quarantine at selected hospitals. Other incoming passengers will isolate for two weeks at government-designated facilities; authorities may allow diplomats, employees of international organizations, and their family members to self-quarantine at their residence. International travel and border restrictions remain largely in effect, with exceptions are for cargo transport.

At the domestic level, officials have allowed most businesses to resume operations, so long as they maintain social distancing measures. Events, including sporting competitions with spectators, can take place if organizers adhere to protocols, such as taking temperatures and ensuring participants wear protective masks. Some entertainment venues, such as karaoke bars, remain closed through July 31 as a precaution.

Officials have warned that they could reimpose more stringent restrictions in specific provinces if there are new COVID-19 cases in the locations. Reintroduction of stricter measures nationwide is also possible if there are cases in multiple provinces.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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