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No coronavirus in Laos, tests done at ministry lab confirm

Health officials have confirmed that 13 people with symptoms of the new coronavirus (nCoV) have tested negative for the virus at the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology, run by the Ministry of Health. 
Eleven of the people tested were Lao and examination of their blood samples gave negative results.
The other two, who were Chinese, also tested negative for the virus but are being monitored at the Centre.

So far, no one in Laos has been confirmed as being infected with the virus.
Director General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control under the Ministry of Health, Dr Rattanaxay Phetsavanh, told a press conference on Monday  the ministry was setting up coronavirus coordination units at hospitals nationwide to help monitor for and prevent the spread of the virus.
He assured members of the public that the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology was able to administer high quality blood tests for the virus and the results could be relied upon to be accurate.
The test was in line with international standards and could be used to help prevent a coronavirus outbreak in Laos. After a blood sample was taken, test results would be available in about four hours.
Director General of the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology, Dr Phonepadith Xangsayarath, said the blood test for the new coronavirus would be administered to people who had travelled to an outbreak area and had developed flu-like symptoms after leaving this area.
All guidelines on the screening, detection, quarantine, and treatment of suspected carriers are rigorously followed, he said.
But Dr Phonepadith admitted it was a challenge to prevent people infected with the virus from entering Laos given that a person carrying the virus would probably have no symptoms during the first one to two weeks of infection.
People typically develop symptoms within 14 days after exposure to the virus. The risk of infection can be lowered by avoiding close contact with a person with fever, cough, sore throat or respiratory problems, covering one’s mouth when coughing, washing one’s hands with soap or hand gel, and avoiding contact with live or dead farm or wild animals, Dr Phonepadith added.
If you have any flu-like symptoms and have travelled to an outbreak area, please contact health workers at a point of entry into Laos.
If you have a travel history to a currently affected area and develop symptoms after leaving a point of entry into Laos, please call +856 20 5406 6777 to speak to a duty officer in Lao or English, at any time of the day or night.
For more information, call the free hotline number 166 on any day at any time.  

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update February 4, 2020)

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