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#Laos begins to reopen as #Coronavirus lockdown eased

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In response to the recent Covid-19 outbreak, governments across the world have put measures in place to curb the spread of the disease and protect citizens.

Laos has so far managed to keep the coronavirus under control. As of May 12th, the nation has recorded fewer than 20 confirmed cases, the vast majority of which have already made a full recovery.

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With no new Covid-19 infections in almost a month, the Laotian authorities are confident that life can soon begin returning to normal in the Southeast Asian nation.

Changes to Laos Visa Policy during Covid-19

One way in which this low infection rate has been achieved is by restricting entrance to Laos. On March 18th it was announced that all tourist visas were to be suspended until further notice.

Under normal circumstances, tourists are able to apply for a Laos visa online and stay in the country for up to 30 days. With the situation continuing to improve, it is hoped that the normal visa policy will recommence in the not-too-distant future.

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The announcement that the Laos visa overstay fees were to be suspended during the coronavirus outbreak came as welcome news to travelers in Laos. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed a flexible approach to foreigners with visas that expired during the lockdown period who were unable to request an extension.

Foreign nationals heading to Laos for non-touristic purposes are able to enter the country provided they submit the required health-related documents for approval prior to arrival.

Now that the Department of Immigration has reopened, visa holders are once again required to have a valid visa and pay the extension fees for any days spent in Laos without a valid visa since 9th April. Overstay fines came back into effect from May 8th.

Lockdown Measures Now Being Eased in Laos

Given that no new cases of the coronavirus have been detected in Laos for some weeks, the country is gradually beginning to open back up, an indication that life is slowly returning to a degree of normality.

Lockdown measures had been in place since the end of March. Like in many countries across the world, residents were asked to stay indoors, only leaving for essential purposes such as buying food or medicine. Businesses deemed as non-essential were to remain closed.

It would appear that the lockdown has been effective in preventing more people from catching Covid-19. For this reason, since May 4th, some cafes, restaurants, shopping centers, and offices have been able to reopen. The wearing of masks and social distancing is still required but economic activity can now start to resume, a positive sign.

For the time being, recreational spaces such as bars, cinemas, and gyms are to remain closed and large gatherings are not permitted. The situation is under constant review by the government, the current measures will remain in place for at least 2 weeks.

Except for exceptional circumstances, travel between provinces remains restricted, with the suspension of bus services and domestic flights.

The Importance of Tourism in Laos

Tourism is important to the economy of Laos. A country of great natural beauty with unspoiled mountainous terrain and remote villages to explore, Laos attracts sightseers from all over the world.

Laos visitor arrivals have increased over the past few years. The nation welcomed over 4.5 million international people in 2019, up 8.2% on the previous year. As well as foreign nationals from other Asian nations, Laos receives an increasing number of British, American, and German passport holders.

Tourism has therefore been of increasing importance in Laos in recent years, helping to boost economic growth and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for local people.

Not only this but the rise of tourism in Laos has contributed to the development of infrastructure in the country. Airports and roads have both seen significant investment.

How will Laos tourism recover after Covid-19?

The coronavirus outbreak has hit global tourism hard, with flights grounded and visas suspended, holidays have temporarily been put on hold.

As Laos is now in the process of reopening, it is time to think about how the nation will recover from the effects of the pandemic.

travel becomes possible, international tourists will be encouraged to return to Laos to experience the landscapes and fascinating culture that so many millions have enjoyed in recent years. In fact, with so little footfall, some of the country’s most popular sites will be even more beautiful.

Luang Prabang, famed for its impressive architecture, temples, and wildlife, is one of the most visited places in Laos. The UNESCO World Heritage Site will surely benefit from this quiet period, ready to welcome travelers again once global tourism resumes.

Author bio:

Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips and experience with the audience.

 

 

 

 

 

coronavirus

US-EU agenda for beating the global pandemic: Vaccinating the world, saving lives now, and building back better health security

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Vaccination is the most effective response to the COVID pandemic. The United States and the EU are technological leaders in advanced vaccine platforms, given decades of investments in research and development.

It is vital that we aggressively pursue an agenda to vaccinate the world. Co-ordinated US and EU leadership will help expand supply, deliver in a more coordinated and efficient manner, and manage constraints to supply chains. This will showcase the force of a Transatlantic partnership in facilitating global vaccination while enabling more progress by multilateral and regional initiatives.

Building on the outcome of the May 2021 G20 Global Health Summit, the G7 and US-EU Summits in June, and on the upcoming G20 Summit, the US and the EU will expand cooperation for global action toward vaccinating the world, saving lives now, and building better health security.  

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Pillar I: A Joint EU/US Vaccine Sharing Commitment: the United States and the EU will share doses globally to enhance vaccination rates, with a priority on sharing through COVAX and improving vaccination rates urgently in low and lower-middle income countries. The United States is donating over 1.1 billion doses, and the EU will donate over 500 million doses. This is in addition to the doses we have financed through COVAX.

We call for nations that are able to vaccinate their populations to double their dose-sharing commitments or to make meaningful contributions to vaccine readiness. They will place a premium on predictable and effective dose-sharing to maximize sustainability and minimize waste.

Pillar II: A Joint EU/US Commitment to Vaccine Readiness: the United States and the EU will both support and coordinate with relevant organisations for vaccine delivery, cold chain, logistics, and immunization programs to translate doses in vials into shots in arms. They will share lessons learned from dose sharing, including delivery via COVAX, and promote equitable distribution of vaccines.

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Pillar III: A Joint EU/US partnership on bolstering global vaccine supply and therapeutics: the EU and the United States will leverage their newly launched Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce to support vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing and distribution and overcome supply chain challenges. Collaborative efforts, outlined below, will include monitoring global supply chains, assessing global demand against the supply of ingredients and production materials, and identifying and addressing in real time bottlenecks and other disruptive factors for global vaccine and therapeutics production, as well as coordinating potential solutions and initiatives to boost global production of vaccines, critical inputs, and ancillary supplies.

Pillar IV: A Joint EU/US Proposal to achieve Global Health Security. The United States and the EU will support the establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) by the end of 2021 and will support its sustainable capitalization.  The EU and United States will also support global pandemic surveillance, including the concept of a global pandemic radar. The EU and the United States, through HERA and the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, respectively, will cooperate in line with our G7 commitment to expedite the development of new vaccines and make recommendations on enhancing the world's capacity to deliver these vaccines in real time. 

We call on partners to join in establishing and financing the FIF to support to prepare countries for COVID-19 and future biological threats.

Pillar V: A Joint EU/US/Partners Roadmap for regional vaccine production. The EU and the United States will coordinate investments in regional manufacturing capacity with low and lower-middle income countries, as well as targeted efforts to enhance capacity for medical countermeasures under the Build Back and Better World infrastructure and the newly established Global Gateway partnership. The EU and the United States will align efforts to bolster local vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa and forge ahead on discussions on expanding the production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and ensure their equitable access.

We call on partners to join in supporting coordinated investments to expand global and regional manufacturing, including for mRNA, viral vector, and/or protein subunit COVID-19 vaccines.

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Joint statement on the launch of the joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce

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Coronavirus: 200th EU disinfection robot delivered to European hospital, a further 100 confirmed

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On 21 September, the Commission delivered the 200th disinfection robot – to Consorci Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí hospital in Barcelona. The robots, donated by the Commission, help sanitize COVID-19 patient rooms and are part of the Commission's action to supply hospitals across the EU to help them cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Further to these initial 200 robots announced in November last year, the Commission secured the purchase an additional 100, bringing the total donations to 300.

A Europe fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President for Margrethe Vestager, said: “Assisting member states overcome the challenges of the pandemic continues to be a number one priority and these donations – a very tangible form of support – are a prime example of what can be achieved. This is European solidarity in action and I am pleased to see the Commission can go the extra mile in donating an additional 100 disinfection robots to hospitals in need.”

Twenty-five disinfection robots have already been working night and day across Spain since February to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus. Nearly every EU Member State has now received at least one disinfection robot, which disinfects a standard patient room in under 15 minutes, alleviating hospital staff and offering them and their patients greater protection against potential infection. This action is made possible through the Emergency Support Instrument and the devices are supplied by Danish company UVD robots, which won an emergency procurement tender.

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Coronavirus: Commission signs contract for the supply of a monoclonal antibody treatment

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The Commission has signed a joint procurement framework contract with the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly for the supply of a monoclonal antibody treatment for coronavirus patients. This marks the latest development in this first portfolio of five promising therapeutics announced by the Commission under the EU COVID-19 Therapeutics Strategy in June 2021. The medicine is currently under rolling review by the European Medicines Agency. 18 member states have signed up to the joint procurement for the purchase of up to 220,000 treatments.

Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “Over 73% of the EU adult population is now fully vaccinated, and this rate will still increase. But vaccines cannot be our only response to COVID-19. People still continue to be infected and fall ill. We need to continue our work to prevent illness with vaccines and at the same time ensure that we can treat it with therapeutics. With today's signature, we conclude our third procurement and deliver on our commitment under the EU Therapeutics Strategy to facilitate access to state-of-the-art medicines for COVID-19 patients.”

While vaccination remains the strongest asset both against the virus and its variants, therapeutics play a critical role in the COVID-19 response. They help to save lives, speed up recovery time, reduce the length of hospitalisation and ultimately ease the burden of health care systems.

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The product from Eli Lilly is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (bamlanivimab and etesevimab) for the treatment of coronavirus patients who do not require oxygen but are at high risk of severe COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins conceived in the laboratory that mimic the immune system's ability to fight the coronavirus. They fuse to the spike protein and thus block the virus's attachment to the human cells.

Under the EU Joint Procurement Agreement, the European Commission has concluded until now nearly 200 contracts for different medical countermeasures with a cumulative value of over €12 billion. Under the joint procurement framework contract concluded with Eli Lilly, member states can purchase the combination product bamlanivimab and etesevimab if and when needed, once it has received either a conditional marketing authorisation at EU level from the European Medicines Agency or an emergency use authorisation in the member state concerned.

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Today's joint procurement contract follows the contract signed with Roche for the product REGN-COV2, a combination of Casirivimab and Imdevimab, on 31 March 2021 and the contract with Glaxo Smith Kline on 27 July 2021 for the supply of sotrovimab (VIR-7831), developed in collaboration with VIR biotechnology.

The EU Strategy on COVID-19 Therapeutics, adopted on 6 May 2021, aims to build a broad portfolio of COVID-19 therapeutics with the goal of having three new therapeutics available by October 2021 and possibly two more by the end of the year. It covers the full lifecycle of medicines from research, development, selection of promising candidates, fast regulatory approval, manufacturing and deployment to final use. It will also coordinate, scale-up and ensure that the EU acts together in ensuring access to therapeutics via joint procurements.

The Strategy forms part of a strong European Health Union, using a coordinated EU approach to better protect the health of our citizens, equip the EU and its Member States to better prevent and address future pandemics, and improve resilience of Europe's health systems. Focusing on the treatment of patients with COVID-19, the Strategy works alongside the successful EU Vaccines Strategy, through which safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 have been authorised for use in the EU to prevent and reduce transmission of cases, as well as hospitalisation rates and deaths caused by the disease.

On 29 June 2021, the strategy delivered its first outcome, with the announcement of five candidate therapeutics that could soon be available to treat patients across the EU. The five products are in an advanced stage of development and have a high potential to be among the three new COVID-19 therapeutics to receive authorization by October 2021, the target set under the strategy, provided the final data demonstrate their safety, quality and efficacy.

Global co-operation on therapeutics is crucial and a key component of our strategy. The Commission is committed to working together with international partners on COVID-19 therapeutics and make them available globally. The Commission is also exploring how to support the enabling environment for manufacturing health products, while strengthening research capacity in partner countries around the globe.

More information

EU Therapeutics Strategy

Coronavirus response

Safe COVID-19 vaccines for Europeans

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