Laos Only ASEAN Country With Zero Covid Deaths

Laos has become the only country in ASEAN with zero deaths attributed to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Until last week, Cambodia and Laos had each recorded zero deaths from the Coronavirus, despite differing strategies for Covid prevention and control.

Cambodia suffered its first death from Covid-19 last Thursday in its biggest outbreak so far, after a 50-year-old man died from the virus at Phnom Penh’s Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital. The man had been a driver for a Chinese national who lived in the town of Sihanoukville, according to reports.

Laos has now become the last country in ASEAN to record zero deaths from the virus and remains the country in the Southeast Asian bloc that has recorded the fewest cases of Covid-19, at just 49 cases.

While humble Laos has not received much international attention for its efforts, the country has received praise from representatives of international health organizations for its containment of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Dr. Howard Sobel, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Laos, applauded the government of Laos for its success in containing the country’s first Covid-19 outbreak in June last year.

“Lao PDR’s response to its first outbreak of Covid-19 was exemplary. The government anticipated the arrival of this terrible disease and did all the right things to stop it from spreading,” said Dr. Sobel.

“This undoubtedly saved many lives. It has been an honor for WHO to work with the Ministry of Health and the National Task Force Committee during this difficult, but successful, time in Lao PDR. But, as the Prime Minister has said, this is only an initial success. Covid-19 is still spreading in many countries around the world. We must all continue to prepare for the next wave of infections here.”

The country received praise again in October at the country’s Intra-Action Review meeting, with WHO’s Representative to Lao PDR, Dr. Mark Jacobs, commenting:

The keys to Lao PDR’s success have been: clear leadership of the national response; clear proactive public communication; very early public health measures including lockdown; good acceptance by the community of these measures; and a focus on the border.”

The early success achieved by Laos’s quick action meant the country was able to gradually ease lockdown restrictions without seeing another big outbreak of the disease, virtually reverting to normal life for most citizens inside its borders.

Laos has already embarked on a vaccination campaign after receiving shipments of vaccines from China, Russia, and the COVAX facility.

Over 40,000 people have received at least the first doses of the vaccines in the country, including medical workers and at-risk groups. The second round of vaccinations is to take place in April, with the government calling on everyone to accept the vaccine.

About 20 percent of the population is to be vaccinated by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, a ban on certain flights remains in place, with the government instituting mandatory Covid-19 insurance and wrist monitoring devices for foreign citizens entering Laos.