As of 31 May, Lao PDR has 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases (last reported 12 April) and zero deaths, with 16 patients now recovered (MoH).
The UN Country Team (UNCT) continues to provide support to the Government of Lao PDR prepare and respond to the COVID-19 Outbreak across a range of sectors, including health, migration, education, nutrition and food security, agriculture, labour and social services and protection.
The UN Secretary-General’s Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) approved two UNCT Lao PDR joint proposals aimed at assisting provincial health preparedness and essential health services during the COVID-19 Outbreak.
MPI has requested the UNCT undertake a joint impact evaluation of the COVID-19 Outbreak with the objective of identifying policy recommendations and actions for the Government in the recalibration of the draft 9th NSEDP.
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.
The UNCT has been engaging Lao residents in risk communication and preventative messaging, working with partners from multiple sectors (Government, religious and faith-based groups, INGOs and local CSOs, educational institutions, media and private sector). Target audiences include all Lao children, women and men, with specific focus on vulnerable groups, including returning migrants, persons with disabilities, youth and adolescents, ethnic groups and others. In May 2020, the Government was supported with developing a new phase of public messaging in view of people returning to work and school.
All pre-schools, primary and secondary schools as well as the last year of vocational schools, pedagogical colleges, and universities will open on 2 June 2020. The rest of the classes are scheduled to open on 15 June 2020. The backto-school campaign online materials have been seen by Lao online platform users nearly 3 million times. The UNCT has assisted the Ministry of Education and Sport (MoES) in developing guidelines for re-opening schools, which is also based on the Lao PDR Education COVID-19 Response Plan.
With the expected increase in protection and GBV issues, 17 hotlines providing remote counseling and psycho-social support have been created in partnership with the Lao Women’s Union, Lao Youth Union, and Vientiane Youth Centre. The UN has provided additional training to counselors, ensuring the relevant skill sets are available to manage the increasing case load.
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 lowincome earning households and vulnerable groups. UNCT partners are also improving vulnerability mapping and spatial analysis, identifying high risk regions across the country. 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.
The Lao PDR’s Micro- and SMEs were mobilized to produce required PPE, including technical support to MoIC and Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) for sustainability of essential protection supplies.
24 youth volunteers from the Lao Youth Union, Vientiane Youth Centre and the National University of Laos underwent a 3 day training as part of the “Me, My Body, My Planet, My Future” Campaign launched in 2019, learning important leadership skills to drive action in mitigating negative impact of COVID-19 on adolescents and young people.