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Southeast Asian nations continue stringent measures against COVID

 The health ministry of Laos on May 16 reported 21 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 locally-transmitted infections.

After 25 days of lockdown, Vientiane capital city has still recorded 11 community cases, with new clusters. However, most of other cities and provinces have detected no new local infections.

The ministry warned of the rise in COVID-19 cases among women and children, saying it is preparing personnel to cope with the third wave of the pandemic.

The country has counted 1,591 cases so far, of which 1,400 are locally transmitted.

Cambodia has reported a decline in new COVID-19 cases for five consecutive days, with 350 infections logged on May 16, including nine imported cases.

The country’s tally now stands at 22,184, with 12,120 recoveries and 150 deaths.

Dr. Or Vandine, Secretary of State and Spokesperson of the Cambodian Ministry of Health, said new variants B-1617 and B117 could spread in Cambodia if people neglect the implementation of health measures.

The new COVID-19 variants are highly contagious and severe, she said, calling on people to be very careful although COVID-19 cases in Cambodia are expected to gradually decrease.

Meanwhile, Thailand on May 16 reported 2,302 new COVID-19 cases and 24 more deaths.

The latest cases bring the total number of COVID-19 infections in the country to 101,447 with 589 deaths.

The Corrections Department has found another 1,219 people infected with COVID-19, six of them in critical condition, in three prisons in Greater Bangkok.

The figure brings to nearly 5,000 the number of confirmed coronavirus cases that the public has been told about in the country’s badly overcrowded prisons, the Bangkok Post newspaper said.

The latest discovery came from 100 percent active case finding at Klong Prem Central Prison, where 510 infections were found, Bangkok Remand Prison (88) and Thonburi Remand Prison (621), according to a department briefing on May 15.

The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on the day 5,790 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,143,963.

The death toll climbed to 19,191 after 140 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

A fire hit the state-run Philippine General Hospital at Taft Avenue, Manila early May 16 morning, according to the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Authorities said the blaze started in an operating room on the third floor of the facility. It reached first alarm at 12:41 a.m. and was quickly raised to the second level at 12:58 a.m., the BFP-National Capital Region reported.

No one was hurt in the fire, the Manila Public Information Office said. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the incident.

Thirty-eight community cases were among 49 new COVID-19 infections reported in Singapore as of noon on May 16, said the Singaporean Ministry of Health.

This is the highest number of community cases reported since April 14, 2020, when 40 community infections were reported. Singapore's "circuit breaker" started on Apr 7, 2020.

Tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the community kicked in on May 16 and will last until Jun 13.

Indonesia on May 15 implemented random COVID-19 tests and mandatory checks on travellers returning from their hometowns following Hari Raya Aidilfitri, in a bid to stave off a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The random tests will be carried out in 21 locations on travellers departing from provinces across Java island to Jakarta, said Airlangga Hartarto, head of the COVID-19 mitigation and national economic recovery committee.

It is also mandatory for all travellers from Sumatra island to the capital via Bakauheni port in Lampung to produce COVID-19 test results that show they are free of the virus./.