United Nations Lao PDR: COVID-19 Situation Report No. 1 (Reporting Period: 1 – 30 April 2020)

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• 19 COVID-19 cases confirmed (last reported 12 April); no deaths; as of 30 April, 8 patients have recovered (MoH).

• The UN Country Team (UNCT) continues to provide support to MoH and other key sectors throughout the COVID-19 preparedness and response, including the development of guidance notes, improving surveillance and point of entry (PoE) practices, strengthening laboratory capacity, and assisting in health services and logistics.

• To support subnational coordination mechanisms, the UN in partnership with MoH established the Health Partners Working Group. This Group consists of civil society, NGOs, Development Partners, the UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes (AFPs) and Government.

• Procurement of medical supplies and health products remains a high priority for the Government, particularly in preparing Provincial and District health care facilities for COVID-19 outbreaks.

• 134,404 Lao migrant workers returned from neighboring countries throughout March (Vientiane Times). Migrants were placed under Government-led quarantine across 1,647 centers. The UNCT increased WASH and protection services in Government-managed migrant COVID-19 Quarantine Centers and associated health facilities, technical guidance on minimizing infection and GBV reaching approximately, and WASH services to 1,500 facilities for servicing 45,000 people.

• The UNCT risk communications reached over 2 million Lao residents, sharing key messages across multiple platforms highlighting the importance of preventative measures and social connectedness. Target audiences include returning migrants, persons with disabilities, youth and adolescents, ethnic groups and other vulnerable groups.

• #PiMaiAtHome social media campaign promoted staying at home during Lao New Year and beyond, with UN collective messaging reaching over 390,000 people.

• With the expected increase in protection and GBV issues, 3 hotlines providing remote counseling and psycho-social support have been established engaging the Lao Women’s Union, Lao Youth Union, and Vientiane Youth Centre. The UN will support further training to counselors, ensuring relevant skills to manage the increasing case load.

• In response to school closures, MoES has improved home-learning materials, education webpages and learning programmes for TV and radio with the support of UN partners. A Back-to-school campaign was launched, and schools used as Quarantine Centers were disinfected.

• Support was provided to MoH (NNC) for the elaboration of a Nutrition Response Plan, mainstreaming nutrition across sectors and providing guidance on programme implementation. Essential commodities for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition were procured. Key nutrition messages and counselling materials on breastfeeding, healthy diets and infant / young child feeding for caregivers suspected or confirmed with COVID-19 were developed.

• A Perceptions Survey is ongoing to determine the current food security needs across the country. The survey targets agricultural activities, markets, food availability, physical access, employment/income, access and consumption of food, and health/nutrition.

• In anticipation for the increased socio-economic vulnerability across the country, the UNCT is improving vulnerability mapping based on population density and relevant indicators for use in prioritizing interventions.

• To support the Government in responding to the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 emergency, the UN is undertaking a range of assessments in the economic and financial sectors, determining the implications on the low-income earning households and vulnerable groups. The assessments will also assist in determining the impact against the SDGs and what development of policy options and measures will be required in the recovery process.