Laotian authorities are concerned that the spread of the H1NI influenza virus will affect its hosting of the 25th Southeast Asian Games later this year due to the increasing number of Laotians infected with the virus.
Laos will host the Southeast Asian Games between December
9-18. The games will be attended by some 7,000 athletes and delegates from 10
countries in the region.
Dr. Bounlay Phommasak, director of the National Emerging
Infectious Disease Coordiantion Office, said that 27 Laotians were found to
have contracted the H1N1-typed influenza between June 15 to July 15, despite
the fact that only foreigners were victims in the initial period.
The outbreak situation has become more worrisome as more cases were found to be Laotians who contracted the virus in the country.
In one case, a 10-year-old girl was found to have contracted
with such virus after returning from Thailand and transmitted it to her sister and
friends in the same class.
In other cases, 11 Lao workers contracted the virus after returning from Thailand along with more than 200 workers travelling on 19 buses. After their return, they dispersed to their hometowns in Savannakhet, Champassak, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane , Saravan and others.
Moreover, 17 Laotians in the capital of Vientiane, 6 in Savannakhet, 2 in Vientiane province and one each in Champasak and Luang Prabang were infected with the H1N1 flu virus. More than half of them are between 10 to 20 years old.
In addition to the H1N1 virus, the seasonal flu during the rainy season and the winter season is another major concern. Several experts are concerned that these two viruses would merge and form a new threatening type of virus.
The situation prompted the Lao government to call a meeting with representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international aid agencies on July 14 to find an effective way to stem the spread of this virus, by way of disseminating information about the virus so that the people understand the risk and danger and know how to protect themselves.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao. Songrit symmarized in English.