Making news

Southeast Asian countries continue measures against COVID-19

The Lao Ministry of Health said on September 24 that in the past 24 hours, the country recorded 434 new cases of COVID-19, of which 406 were community infections.

The capital Vientiane continues to have the highest number of community infections with 229 cases, mainly in outbreaks at garment factories. To date, the total coronavirus caseload in Laos has reached 21,080, including 16 deaths.

As the number of community infections continues to rise, competent agencies have increased checkpoints in Vientiane capital to ensure that pandemic prevention regulations are strictly followed. People are urged to stay at home, except for going out to buy food, medicine or visit the hospital.

In addition, Laos will allow the use of rapid testing equipment approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the list of urgent use in a bid to reduce pressure on laboratories.

In Cambodia, meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen has decided to suspend the Pchum Ben ceremony across the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The decision was made after a sudden increase in the number of new COVID infections at many temples in Phnom Penh after two days of Pchum Ben due to mass gatherings.

Although the celebrations were canceled, the three-day public holiday for the Pchum Ben festival from October 5 to 7 will be maintained, Hun Sen said.

Singapore has decided to reintroduce distancing measures during the “Strengthening Alert” which runs from September 27 to October 24, according to Singapore’s inter-ministerial task force for COVID-19.

Accordingly, diners are once again limited to groups of two – instead of up to five – and companies directed to make working from home the default setting.

The task force said if the current trends continue, Singapore’s daily case numbers could hit 3,200 next week. The country reported 1,504 new cases on September 23, the highest daily number so far.

Meanwhile, Thailand's National Commission on Infectious Diseases has approved a reduction of the quarantine period for foreign visitors and reopening some localities after the Sandbox model was piloted at the Phuket resort island.

Director of the Department of Disease Control under Thai Ministry of Health Opas Karnkawinpong said that the two-week quarantine requirement for vaccinated foreign visitors has been reduced to 7 or 10 days only applied to those arriving by air. Those who arrived in Thailand by land or are not fully vaccinated will still undergo a 14-day quarantine and take two RT-PCR tests./.