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Laos, Asean strengthen coordination to help virus vulnerable groups

Laos and other Asean countries will strengthen coordination in helping vulnerable groups who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through existing cooperation mechanisms, exchanges of information, and promotion of related labour initiatives.
This information was relayed by Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng on Wednesday during the special online Asean Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development.
The meeting discussed a collective response to the virus outbreak to mitigate the impact on vulnerable groups and gave updates from member states on the COVID-19 situation in each country. Dr Khampheng told the online meeting that although Laos has recorded only 19 confirmed cases of the

coronavirus, and all patients have been discharged from hospital, the government was maintaining prevention and control measures to ensure there was no re-emergence of the virus.
During the meeting, Asean labour ministers highlighted their decisive measures to address the outbreak through the prompt sharing of information and other efforts to contain the epidemic and protect the region’s vulnerable groups.
As a result of the meeting, the ministers vowed to further the joint response to the disease, emphasising the urgent need for more cooperation on prevention and control, and the strengthening of labour policy, dialogue and exchanges through existing mechanisms such as the special online Asean Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development.
In their joint statement, the ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation with external partners to address COVID-19 comprehensively, taking into account the different levels of development of the labour sector in the region.
The ministerial meeting discussed efforts to ensure that vulnerable people received social assistance from the government where appropriate, in line with labour policies of respective Asean member states.
It was agreed to help vulnerable groups infected with the virus access essential healthcare and other medical support as necessary, and to prevent discrimination against the infected. 
The ministers, as representatives of the governments of Asean member states, agreed that their countries would commit to reducing the impact of the epidemic on socio-economic development.
They will jointly maintain people-to-people exchanges in the region, and, based on the progress of the epidemic, resume and enhance exchanges and cooperation. They will continue to promote a high quality of life, equitable access to opportunities for all and promote and protect the human rights of children, older persons, and persons with disabilities.
They vowed to continue updates on the COVID-19 situation and the impacts on vulnerable groups in the region to reduce barriers faced by the disadvantaged.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update June 12, 2020)

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