Vietnam closes borders with Laos, Cambodia in Covid-19 fight

By Viet Anh   March 31, 2020 | 04:40 pm PT
Vietnam closes borders with Laos, Cambodia in Covid-19 fight
Medical staff go into the quarantine area at Moc Bai border gate in Tay Ninh Province on the Cambodian border, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Vietnam has closed borders with its south-western neighbors Laos and Cambodia starting Wednesday in its continued bid to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country decided to suspend cross-border activities at main border gates, secondary border gates, trails and entry points at its border areas with Cambodia and Laos, the Foreign Ministry said in a release Tuesday.

The measure aims to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus and ensure maximum effectiveness of Vietnam's anti-epidemic measures in the context that the country has recorded 212 infections, with many of them returning from Europe, U.S. and Cambodia or going through other pandemic-stricken areas. The decision has been conveyed to the Cambodian and Lao embassies.

"Vietnam hopes to receive the cooperation of the governments of Laos and Cambodia and will continue to work closely with countries in the region and around the world to establish control early and stamp out the dangerous pandemic," the release said.

Cambodia reported 107 Covid-19 infections and Laos nine.

From March 20, Cambodia temporarily halted entry for Vietnamese citizens while Laos suspended entry for individuals at all international border gates across the country from March 30 to April 19.

On March 26, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had said that Vietnam will provide Laos and Cambodia with medical equipment worth $100,000 each to aid their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. He also said Vietnam was also willing to send medical experts to both countries if needed.

Vietnam had earlier stopped issuing visas for those coming from outbreak areas in China and closed the borders to prevent the spread of the virus. The Covid-19 pandemic first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December before spreading around the world.

In a tougher move, Vietnam also launched a nationwide social distancing campaign starting Wednesday, not allowing gatherings of more than two people and asking people not to leave their homes except for emergencies and procuring essential items like medicines.

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 37,800 people worldwide.

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