Two more people have tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Laos by air, bring the total number of cases confirmed in Laos to 22, authorities announced on Friday.
The first person to return a positive test on August 13 was a Lao official aged 30, who embarked on a return journey to Laos on August 11 after attending a training course in Taiwan. He transited at Incheon International Airport, Republic of Korea.
The man spent 18 hours at Incheon International Airport while in transit, Deputy Head of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Associate Prof. Dr Phouthone Muongpak, told a press conference.
The returnee and 114 other people on board Lao Airlines’ charter flight QV 922A arrived at Wattay International Airport on August 12.
The other person who tested positive for the virus was a Lao national aged 25, who travelled to Laos on the same flight.
She left the United States on August 10 after completing studies there and spent 15 hours in transit at Incheon International Airport.
The government announced it would suspend charter flights on August 1 given the high risk of a second wave of Covid-19 due to the continuing high number of infections in other countries.
Lao Airlines had asked for permission to fly the charter flight as seats had been booked before the suspension was announced, according to a source from the airline.
Lao Airlines staff reported that all passengers were tested for Covid-19 before boarding the flight, the source added, noting that the flight on August 12 was the last charter flight to Laos.
Lao Airlines is currently operating regular flights to China only, with two flights a week.
Dr Phouthone, who is Deputy Minister of Health, said that before travelling to Laos all passengers on flight QV 922A were tested for Covid-19 as required by Lao authorities.
When the passengers disembarked at Wattay International Airport, health officials took everyone’s temperature but no one showed signs of fever.
Passengers also provided samples for additional checks and two people tested positive for the virus on August 13. They were taken to Mittaphab Hospital for isolation and observation.
“Neither of these two people have any symptoms of the virus,” Dr Phouthone said.
Health officials have tracked down everyone else on board the flight and have collected samples for testing.
Officials are following up and monitoring everyone who was in close contact with the two infected individuals, including those sitting near them and people who travelled in the same minibus from the airport to the hotel where passengers are now in quarantine.
“Test results have all been negative but we will continue to monitor the group closely for a period of 14 days,” Dr Phouthone said.
There are now three people with Covid-19 at Mittaphab Hospital. A 32-year-old Korean man who entered Laos and tested positive for Covid-19 has been at the hospital since last month.
Dr Phouthone said the Korean had only mild symptoms and his condition was stable.