EDITORIAL: It’s important to keep ourselves safe from Covid-19

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Taking strong actions to maintain surveillance and prevent the spread of COVID-19 is a top priority for every country across the world.

Since the outbreak of the dangerous virus and its rapid spread around the globe, the World Health Organisation reported on March 8 that the number of people infected has reached 105,586 globally, with 3,656 cases being new infections. In China alone, there are 80,859 confirmed cases (46 new), and 3,100 people have died. Globally the virus has killed 3,584 people.

Countries have put in place protective measures and people cannot afford to be careless and overlook the issue because the novel coronavirus is a big threat to humanity and economies worldwide. Those who get infected are at risk of losing their life if they do not get emergency treatment.

Governments are facing tough challenges in treating patients, tracing those who have been infected and seeking out effective methods for tackling this outbreak. As we have seen, countries are giving importance to surveillance and prevention to save people from the virus.

The disease has already had a massive impact on the economy of several countries. Tourism has been affected as international flights and bus services have been cancelled or suspended, and travellers are staying at home. Other sectors such as investment, manufacturing and trade have also suffered.  

Everyone understands these effects on the economy and must accept this situation. This is not the time to discuss ways to tackle only the economic difficulties. The more urgent issue for every country is taking action to save people from the virus. We can handle economic problems after the situation returns to normal. We have to be patient and overcome this crisis together.

Laos is a country where no Covid-19 infections have been detected so far, but it is at high risk because it shares borders with some affected nations such as China, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. So, Laos must be most careful.

The government has put in place several measures to closely monitor the situation and maintain surveillance, including the installation of medical equipment to check the temperature of travellers at international airports and border checkpoints across the country. The cancellation of public meetings, events and other activities is another of the important actions taken so far.

Laos has already postponed big events such as the National Games, the celebration of UNESCO Plain of Jars and the consecration of a huge Buddha statue. All of these activities were to be held in Xieng Khuang province in northern Laos in March. In addition, organisations have suspended planned activities such as concerts, exhibitions and competitions.

A senior official at the National Institute for Economic Research strongly supported the cancellation of public events because such events will attract a lot of people.  

Even though Laos does not have any confirmed case of the virus yet, everyone must take steps to protect themselves as this isn’t just the responsibility of the health sector or the government. Everybody must lend a hand and do as much as they can. If you protect your own self, your family members will stay healthy too.

Most people have been proactive on the issue of protection. They understand the dangers posed by the virus and are trying to save themselves. Schools in Vientiane, the capital city, have begun checking the temperature of every student and parent before they enter the premises. But one thing teachers must do is start a campaign to encourage students to wear masks while attending classes and to wash their hands regularly.  

The national flag carrier, Lao Airlines, is checking the temperature of all passengers flying to Laos on overseas routes. Those who have symptoms of Covid-19 will be asked to get treatment in their country of embarkation.

Everyone in Laos must get involved in these efforts and be proactive in preventing the spread of the virus - parents should advise their children to wear masks all the time when they go out, stay away from friends who have symptoms similar to those of Covid-19 such as coughing or sneezing, and not share food or drinks or use the same spoons or glasses because there could be a risk of getting infected. Sharing food is part of the culture of Lao people so to avoid disease we must use separate serving spoons. It is time to make some lifestyle changes so that we don’t put ourselves at risk.

One other important thing is that everyone must make sure their hands are clean before touching their nose, face or mouth or eating food.

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