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Lao gov't urges postponement of social gathering to minimize risk of COVID-19 outbreak
time:2020-03-11 Source:Xinhua  

The Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism issued a notice on Tuesday, discouraging the organization of large events including weddings, as the government intensifies efforts to minimize the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Head of the Ministry Office, Vansy Kuamua, signed the notice on Tuesday, giving provincial culture and tourism departments and relevant bodies nationwide authority to request the postponement of festivals and events, such as weddings, which draw a large crowd.

The advisory notice is a precautionary measure to protect Laos against the virus, with Laos now being the only country in the region to have no confirmed cases, said local online newspaper Vientiane Times.

A source with the ministry told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that only festive and crowded events should be postponed, and it was too early to say whether the Lao New Year celebrations in mid-April would be cancelled, adding that if the situation improves people can celebrate it as usual.

Director of the Vientiane Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Vilayvone Chanthalaty, said the committee in charge of New Year celebrations would suggest cancelling crowded events such as the Miss Lao New Year procession and other public gatherings.

However, officials said people in capital Vientiane could go to temples to pour water over Buddha images and offer good wishes to elderly people over the Lao New Year holiday, which will run from April 13 to April 16.

The Vientiane Information, Culture and Tourism Department will hold a meeting with the Mayor of Vientiane and higher authorities next week to discuss the possible cancellation of some state sponsored and other important events. These activities include riverside sports contests, the Buddha image procession and other events which large numbers of people normally attend.

Laos is still free from the COVID-19 till Tuesday, with around 60 suspected cases giving negative results after tests.

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