Despite sharing a border with China, Laos (the Lao People’s Democratic Republic) has effectively handled COVID thus far. Laos has a population of over 7 million and has tested roughly 20,500 with only 19 cases coming back positive.
The first detected cases were registered on March 24th, and the last of the 19 cases was discharged as of June 9th. There have been no new cases since April 12th and no deaths overall.
After two separate Chinese travelers had visited Laos and returned to China and found to have been infected in January, Laos began suspending the issuance of visas to Chinese nationals and reducing its flights to China. There were no other confirmed cases until two months later. With China being the main market for Lao Airlines and the tourist trade also almost completely reliant on China, not many people were traveling in and out of the country, allowing for a full lockdown on March 29th.
With physical testing, social distancing, contact tracing, quarantine, and treatment, Laos was able to contain the virus as much as possible but, like most others, the country is suffering from a recession as a result of the virus. The Lao government has been working with the World Bank to evaluate the economic impact of the pandemic.
Author: Camryn Thomas
Karl Ian Uy Cheng Chua, an Assistant Professor at the History Department and Director of the Japanese Studies Program at Ateneo de Manila University, wrote a piece “Covid-19 and Popular Culture in Southeast Asia” on how digital media responded to the pandemic and how it provides accurate and updated information that helps keep citizens safe:
While these roles were dominated primarily by television, radio and print, in recent years, digital media has been leading the information spaces, particularly in urban areas. An OECD study in 2017 showed that more than a quarter of the nation’s population have internet access: Brunei Darussalam (95%); Singapore (85%); Malaysia (80%); Philippines (60%); Thailand (53%); Vietnam (50%); Cambodia (34%); Indonesia (32%); Myanmar (31%); Laos (26%). (The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2019) A further peculiarity is how popular culture has been used by organizations and individuals to attain their information dissemination goals. This has been accentuated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as quarantines of various forms were implemented by governments which encouraged citizens to stay at home, and limited their mobilities, created populations hungry for information on the virus. Popular culture is playing an integral role as the media not only provides information, as well as entertainment, it also creates a space for dialogue.
Find the full article – along with many more related to Pan-Asian responses to COVID – on Corona Chronicles: Voices from the Field.
Author: Camryn Thomas