Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Laos extends international passenger travel ban and social distancing restrictions through May 3 to stem the spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Laos

This alert began 16 Apr 2020 06:03 GMT and is scheduled to expire 06 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: International travel ban, quarantine measures, movement restrictions

Summary
Authorities have extended an international travel ban and social distancing restrictions through May 3 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The government is allowing foreigners already in the country to depart, while citizens can travel overseas only for urgent reasons, such as essential government duties or medical purposes. Cross-border movement of goods continues, with government regulations for transport workers in place.

Residents can travel between provinces only with official approval. The government has ordered people to stay at home, except for seeking medical treatment, purchasing essential goods, and other urgent needs. The size of mass gatherings remains limited to 10 people. Authorities have ordered government employees, except for essential workers, to work from home through April 19, while schools remain closed through April 21. Additionally, the government has suspended mineral processing plants and hydropower construction projects through April 19; officials require affected companies to disinfect workplaces and keep employees at work sites. The government could extend or expand restrictions in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country.

Travel Restrictions

Issuance of tourist visas, visas-on-arrival, and visa exemptions remain suspended through April 20. Only people visiting Laos for non-tourism purposes can obtain visas by submitting relevant documents, including a health declaration form, to Lao diplomatic missions; these travelers will likely need to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival in Laos. Overseas Lao workers who are returning to the country will have to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int