Sun, 24 Oct 2021

by Chanthaphaphone Mixayboua, Zhang Jianhua

VIENTIANE, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Lao people are proactively following the government's order in tightening COVID-19 restrictions in Lao capital Vientiane.

Vientiane's administration has imposed ban on all travels to and from Vientiane and within seven districts out of its total nine districts, after the city witnessed a rocketing number in community cases since last Saturday.

Under the lockdown, residents are prohibited from leaving their homes or traveling within the city except for essential tasks, such as shopping for food, purchasing medicine, or visiting hospitals.

Meetings and gatherings are banned. Entertainment and sports venues are closed. Funeral ceremonies and merit making ceremonies must comply strictly with the guidelines.

From Monday, police have placed strict controls on travel and many roads in the capital have been blocked off, while shops and markets that sell non-essential items have been ordered to close until Sept. 30.

"I still need to go to work during the lockdown because my workplace has remained open. If I don't go to work my salaries will be cut," a staff at a convenience store in Vientiane, Keokham Thepkaisanh, 32, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

"I strictly follow COVID-19 prevention measures. I always wear masks while working, frequently wash hands and change clothes once reaching home," she said. "I am grateful to have a job that affords me to work in this situation."

Keokham said her seven-year-old daughter has been learning online since the outbreak. She thinks that her daughter's reading and writing abilities have gone down during the lockdown.

"I am waiting for school to reopen. My daughter also dreams of returning to school soon to play with her friends," she said.

She said that learning online is not an easy task as it requires high developed internet equipment to facilitate the use of educational technologies, adding that, "following up with my daughter's lessons is hard for me and my husband as both of us are full-time workers."

However, Keokham said the lockdown was necessary for preventing widespread transmission of COVID-19 among the community.

Some 222 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded nationwide over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 19,952 including 4,778 active cases and 16 deaths, the Lao National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control said Wednesday.

"Of the new confirmed cases, 210 were classified as local infections and 12 as imported cases," Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control under the Lao Health Ministry, Sisavath Soutthanilaxay told a press conference in Vientiane.

Among the local transmissions, 75 were detected in Vientiane.

With the COVID-19 lingering around, many people voiced their support for the strict lockdown on social media platforms.

A netizen named Wart Lardsavong said, "The lockdown is totally necessary. The government needs to do (this) to keep people safe and prevent a spread of COVID-19."

"If we want to stop the pandemic from spreading rapidly and contain it, we need the strict measures like this!" said another person named Anoluck Khampaiy.

The Lao Ministry of Health has advised people to adapt to the new normal to stop the spread of the virus.

The public should avoid leaving home for unnecessary reasons, wear masks when going out, observe frequent hand washing with gels or soaps. Social distancing of one to two meters must be observed.

Some netizens commented on the news, saying that cooperation and solidarity are the most powerful weapon to prevail over the epidemic.

A netizen named Sisavang Sichampi said community cases of COVID-19 in Vientiane has spread rapidly. If the lockdown had not been implemented, more people would have been infected with the virus.

"We must remain vigilant and abide by measures adopted by the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. I am confident that we will get over the pandemic as soon as possible," said another named Philavanh Chansawang.

"Beyond the immediate impacts on health, jobs and incomes, the lockdown is increasing people's anxiety and worry. However, I believe that the outbreak is controllable as long as everyone follows anti-epidemic measures and we could get life back to normal as soon as possible," said Soukdalane Lounglamy.

According to Lao health authorities, the Delta Plus variant, a highly transmissible mutant version of the Delta strain, is confirmed among the rising community cases in Vientiane.

Laos reported its first two confirmed COVID-19 cases on March 24 last year.

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