Critical Alert


Laos extends domestic COVID-19 measures through Dec. 31. Charter flights, limited inbound international arrivals allowed.

 

Summary
Laos has extended domestic and international restrictions through at least Dec. 31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), amid the continued easing of some measures. The government has reportedly agreed to allow Chinese nationals from provinces without COVID-19 activity to enter Laos with testing and reduced quarantine requirements; details and start dates are unclear as of Nov. 2. Officials may extend similar relaxations to other countries, such as Vietnam, in the following weeks. Charter flights from countries that have low COVID-19 activity are operational. All entrants who test negative for COVID-19 may quarantine at their residence; those who test positive must isolate at selected hospitals. Authorities continue to bar Laotian citizens and residents from nonessential international travel; most land borders remain closed except for cargo transit.

Most businesses may operate with strict hygiene and social distancing measures. Entertainment venues, such as karaoke bars and nightclubs, are permitted to reopen with health measures. Events, including marriage ceremonies and sporting competitions with spectators, may occur if organizers adhere to precautions, such as mandating facemask use and temperature recording for participants.

Officials have warned that they could tighten 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 new cases in multiple provinces.

Travel Restrictions
Most inbound travel remains banned, with exceptions for resident diplomats and essential workers. Tourist visas, visas-on-arrival, and standing visa exemptions remain suspended. Travelers entering Laos must produce negative COVID-19 test results obtained within 72 hours before the trip. Additionally, returning Laos citizens have to register at their nearest Laos diplomatic mission at least seven days before the trip. Foreigners who can still enter Laos must also obtain visas from the nearest Laos diplomatic mission. International travel and border restrictions remain in effect, with exceptions for cargo transport.

Laos citizens departing the country must obtain approval from their employer and the authorities; foreign nationals leaving Laos have to notify their country's embassy in Laos to get permission from the local authorities on their behalf. Passengers departing Laos must also obtain a negative test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before the flight, complete a health declaration form, and carry USD 3,000 in cash.

 

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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