Laos kicks off new school year amid effective COVID-19 control

September 3, 2020

Laos has kicked off its new school year, as the country's COVID-19 pandemic situation is eased, but things will be different from usual because COVID-19 prevention measures still hang in the air.

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith made the call in an address on Tuesday to the country, education administrators, teachers, and children at the start of the new academic year.

He highlighted the need for continued COVID-19 prevention measures, and reminded everyone, especially students, children and other young people that it was essential to adapt to new normal in order to prevent possible second wave of COVID-19 in the country.

Schools should install handwashing basins, provide soap and face masks and take temperature checks in order to prevent the spread of infection.

School administrators must implement precautionary measures, and arrange suitable seating for students with social distancing of at least one meter, as was recommended by the National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

"I'm very glad that I'm going back to school because I will get to see my friends and start a new class," Kenthong Aorlaphoum, a 11-year-grade student of school in Lao capital Vientiane, told Xinhua.

"I think we will all have to get used to the new normal, wear a face mask, and wash our hands frequently to prevent any more cases of COVID-19," said Kenthong.

He added that everyone should cooperate with the authorities and continue to practise preventive measures.

A 32-year-old woman living in Lao capital Vientiane, Lar Vilayphavanh, said, "I always advise my children to wear masks, wash hands with soap or gels and maintain the proper distance. I am always aware on prevention measures and strictly follow them."

"I think every parent is concerned about a resurgence of the virus as it is still present in most parts of the world and everyone remains at risk, especially in crowded places such as schools," Lar said.

A 37-year-old man Nethavit Sayyaphon told Xinhua that it's not easy for children to maintain social distancing in school because they're not really worried about the COVID-19 virus.

"I hope school administrators will strictly follow the COVID-19 prevention measures and requires students, teachers and parents to check for any flu-like symptoms before going to school," said Nethavit.

He added that it is the duty of schools and parents to teach children about the importance of cleanliness and good hygiene and to make sure these practices are maintained.

"This will not only help to protect us against COVID-19 but also against many other virus and illnesses," Nethavit told Xinhua.

The National Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has advised teachers and students to keep track of the situation and monitor updates from the Lao Ministry of Health.

If students or teachers have any flu-like symptoms, school administrators must inform the taskforce committee to help control the spread of the virus.

As of Wednesday, Laos has tested 39,696 suspected cases with 22 cases tested positive, and 21 patients having recovered. The last patient has been treated in designated hospital, Mittaphab Hospital (Hospital 150) in Lao capital Vientiane.

Laos announced its first two COVID-19 confirmed cases on March 24.