Laos remains locked for foreign nationals amid pandemic


The Lao government decided to keep the country’s borders closed to foreign nationals and to impose testing and the issuing of medical certificates before travelers are allowed to exit the nation in a bid to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phonepadith Xangsayarath, director general of the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology, said people with flu-like symptoms, coughs, sore throats, respiratory problems or anyone with a history of contact with a high-risk group cannot obtain a certificate.

The National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control has ordered the Laos health ministry to conduct the tests, adding that only technical experts, diplomats and students would be allowed to travel outside the country.

“The medical certificate should certify that the traveler does not display any Covid-19-like symptoms and is Covid-19-negative. This preventive measure will go a long way in stopping the spread of the virus,” Phonepadith said.

Laos, like neighbouring Vietnam and Cambodia, has fared comparably well in the current pandemic when compared with the US and Europe. It has reported just 19 cases of Covid-19, no deaths and all have recovered with the last patient discharged from hospital on June 9.

However, much of the country of seven million people remains isolated and there are concerns that Covid-19 cases may have gone unreported. Just 20,000 people have been tested since January.

Negative economic outlook

The country’s economy has also taken a hit since a lockdown was announced in March, and rating agency Fitch Ratings has downgraded its economic outlook for Laos from “stable” to “negative”.

“Laos is in a difficult situation. The economies of its richer neighbours – China and Thailand – are in the doldrums and their prospects are not good,” a Fitch analyst said.

Meanwhile, the Lao government has been working with the World Bank to evaluate the economic impact of Covid-19 with local businesses laying off staff and about 100,000 Laos workers returning home from Thailand with few or no job prospects. That is about ten per cent of the total national workforce and local authorities have urged returnees, which are mostly of young age, to find work in agriculture development in remote areas.

The Lao government decided to keep the country’s borders closed to foreign nationals and to impose testing and the issuing of medical certificates before travelers are allowed to exit the nation in a bid to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Phonepadith Xangsayarath, director general of the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology, said people with flu-like symptoms, coughs, sore throats, respiratory problems or anyone with a history of contact with a high-risk group cannot obtain a certificate. The National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control has ordered the Laos health ministry to conduct the tests, adding that only technical experts,...


The Lao government decided to keep the country’s borders closed to foreign nationals and to impose testing and the issuing of medical certificates before travelers are allowed to exit the nation in a bid to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phonepadith Xangsayarath, director general of the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology, said people with flu-like symptoms, coughs, sore throats, respiratory problems or anyone with a history of contact with a high-risk group cannot obtain a certificate.

The National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control has ordered the Laos health ministry to conduct the tests, adding that only technical experts, diplomats and students would be allowed to travel outside the country.

“The medical certificate should certify that the traveler does not display any Covid-19-like symptoms and is Covid-19-negative. This preventive measure will go a long way in stopping the spread of the virus,” Phonepadith said.

Laos, like neighbouring Vietnam and Cambodia, has fared comparably well in the current pandemic when compared with the US and Europe. It has reported just 19 cases of Covid-19, no deaths and all have recovered with the last patient discharged from hospital on June 9.

However, much of the country of seven million people remains isolated and there are concerns that Covid-19 cases may have gone unreported. Just 20,000 people have been tested since January.

Negative economic outlook

The country’s economy has also taken a hit since a lockdown was announced in March, and rating agency Fitch Ratings has downgraded its economic outlook for Laos from “stable” to “negative”.

“Laos is in a difficult situation. The economies of its richer neighbours – China and Thailand – are in the doldrums and their prospects are not good,” a Fitch analyst said.

Meanwhile, the Lao government has been working with the World Bank to evaluate the economic impact of Covid-19 with local businesses laying off staff and about 100,000 Laos workers returning home from Thailand with few or no job prospects. That is about ten per cent of the total national workforce and local authorities have urged returnees, which are mostly of young age, to find work in agriculture development in remote areas.

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