Laos: Authorities step up virus checks on returning migrant workers

VIENTIANE, May 24 (Vientianbe Times/ANN): Authorities in Saravan and other provinces that share a border with Thailand are stepping up Covid screening and quarantine procedures for Lao nationals returning from Thailand.

It is expected that thousands of Lao nationals will return to these provinces from Thailand during the pandemic, according to provincial taskforces for Covid-19 prevention and control.

Saravan, Savanakhet, Khammuan and Xayaboury continue to face challenges in monitoring people at border crossings and providing assistance to returning workers who have been affected by the pandemic.

Provincial taskforces are also trying to find more volunteers to assist staff working at quarantine centres.

Saravan, Savanakhet and Khammuan provinces are providing healthcare for Lao workers returning from Thailand during the pandemic.

Saravan and Savanakhet have Covid prevention and control taskforces in all districts who oversee the running of quarantine centres. They are also trying to ensure the safe return of workers from neighbouring countries who have been affected by the virus outbreak.

Some returning workers enter Laos from Thailand across the second Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge in Savannakhet and then spend 14 days in a quarantine centre if they test negative for Covid.

Most have returned to Laos after their employers temporarily ceased operations because of the pandemic, according to a member of the local taskforce and the Deputy Governor of Lakhonepheng district, Xaysana Sysawath.

In Xayaboury, the provincial taskforce for Covid-19 prevention and control has instructed local authorities to record the details of everyone entering the province from Thailand at the Nam Heuang and Nam Ngeun border crossings.

Xayaboury is actively trying to enforce virus control measures aimed at preventing the virus spreading in Laos.

A senior member of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control said Lao nationals currently in Thailand can return home but must submit the necessary travel documents to the Lao embassy or advisory centre in Thailand.

Returnees must also contact local authorities to get a health check before entering Laos.

If people wanting to travel cannot contact a Lao embassy or advisory centre, they should consult local authorities in their home country or their intended destination to get information about that country’s policies regarding the virus.

The rights of Lao workers will be protected because they are Lao citizens and have the right to return home when they want to, the taskforce member added.

Provincial authorities have warned Lao nationals not to enter the country illegally.

As the Covid outbreak intensifies in Thailand, Laos is at greater risk of the virus being transmitted across the porous border with Thailand, especially if people enter Laos illegally and avoid screening.