Latest ASEAN news

Tourist favourite Thailand's recovery lags on COVID rule changes

BANGKOK, April 29 (Reuters) - When 23-year-old Norwegian Anastasia Johansen and her boyfriend were planning their first vacation in two years, they considered going to Thailand but chose nearby Vietnam instead, for its simpler entry rules on the coronavirus. "The regulations to enter Thailand ... were complicated to me and we had to pay for the hefty PCR test," Johansen said.

Thailand, one of the world's tourism destinations before the pandemic, was among the first nations in Asia to reopen its borders to vaccinated visitors last year with limited quarantine norms, hailed at the time as a model for re-opening. But as regional peers have eased entry requirements, Thailand has clung to a cumbersome process.

"Whichever (country) offers easy, smooth, less complicated procedures wins my heart," said Johansen. Tourism professionals say Thailand's complicated entry rules are now holding back recovery in an industry that contributed 12% of GDP before the pandemic.

Forward bookings for 2022 show Thailand reaching 25% of pre-pandemic levels, behind levels of 72% and 65% each for Singapore and the Philippines. Many blame the Thailand Pass pre-entry approval system, which can take up to seven days, although the government recently vowed to streamline it.

"The red tape is killing us," said Bill Barnett, the managing director of hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks.

"If you're in Singapore and want to come to Thailand for the weekend, it's not easy. Those short-term trips matter."

American Kiran Stallone, who is visiting family in Thailand, said getting the Thailand Pass required proof of vaccination, insurance coverage of at least $20,000 and reservations at a qualified hotel, all submitted on a Thai government website.

"The government website was hard to navigate, and I had to seek outside help," Stallone added. Stallone said she was told to avoid some steps known to cause submission glitches that would delay her application.

The website does not allow users to save progress or return to previous pages and rejects PDF files. A Facebook group on the Thailand Pass has ballooned to 90,000 members, with would-be travellers asking anxious questions about changing flights, new entry rules and some venting frustration over rejected applications. Similar forums have also emerged on sites such as TripAdvisor.



Thailand received 39.9 million visitors in 2019 when Bangkok, the capital, was named the world's most visited city. That year, Singapore and the Philippines recorded 19.1 million and 8.26 million arrivals respectively. Thailand aims to attract 5 million to 10 million visitors this year, but critics call its Thailand Pass system an unnecessary obstacle.

"It’s uncompetitive for Thailand and complicated for travellers ... who lose all flexibility," hotel tycoon William Heinecke, chairman of Minor International Pcl (MINT.BK), told Reuters.

An approved Thailand Pass can only be used one week before or after the date indicated. The tourism council also said the system's requirement of individually filed documentation made it tougher for tour operators to bring in groups. Thailand’s coronavirus taskforce spokesperson, Taweesin Visanuyothin, said tourist arrivals have been increasing as measures were relaxed and recognised that domestic infections outnumbered those from abroad. However, Thailand's staggered approach to relaxing the rules has also caused confusion.

Entry for vaccinated tourists with limited quarantine resumed in February after a brief suspension over the Omicron variant. At the time, travellers had to take at least three COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests; one each before departure, on arrival and on the fifth day of their stay. In March, that final test was replaced with a rapid antigen test and insurance coverage was dropped to $20,000 from $50,000. In April, the pre-departure PCR test was scrapped.

From next month, insurance of $10,000 is required but tests for vaccinated travellers and advance hotel bookings have been dropped.


Course : Reuters

Indonesia ranks third in ASEAN on manufacturing PMI uptick

The mood of the local manufacturing industry has improved slightly over the past month to rise above most other Asean countries, a report that has been released shows.

Indonesia’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) booked a monthly increase of 0.6 to 51.9 in April, while Thailand’s rose 0.1 to the same level, according to a report published by HIS Markit, a subsidiary of financial information firm S&P Global.

The two countries rank third among Asean states according to the latest manufacturing PMI. The report also shows that Indonesia’s rate of improvement was the fastest since January, which it attributes to increased economic activities as a result of relaxed Covid-19 restrictions.

The report is based on a survey of manufacturing purchasing managers who were asked whether business conditions had improved or worsened over the past month in a number of indicators, including customer orders, supply deliveries and employment levels.

Singapore and the Philippines top the list, with the former booking an astounding 3.1-point month-to-month (mtm) increase in its manufacturing PMI to 58.1, while the latter increased 1.1 points to 54.1. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s manufacturing PMI remained unchanged at 51.7 while Malaysia saw a 2- point mtm increase to 51.6.

The overall manufacturing PMI for Asean grew 1.1 points to 52.8 in the seventh consecutive month of improving figures.

"The growth momentum picked up across the Asean manufacturing sector in April as the headline PMI rose to the second highest on record.

"Stronger client demand supported increases in new orders and output. In turn, employment rose at near-record rates after contracting in the previous two survey periods," S&P Global economist Maryam Baluch is quoted as saying in the report.

S&P Global also noted that demand had begun to see a significant increase as pandemic restrictions were gradually lifted in Asean states, spurring new orders and increasing factory output.

As a result, manufacturing sector employment in the region increased for only the second time in the last 35 months, with job creation the second fastest ever recorded by the firm. Only Malaysia saw a decline in manufacturing employment in April.

"Whilst the region's manufacturing sector continues to recover from the recent waves of Covid-19 infections, persistent supply chain challenges and inflationary pressures are expected to remain headwinds to expansion," Baluch said in the report.

She added that rising global uncertainty might exacerbate current obstacles to growth, singling out China’s Covid-19 situation and Russia's invasion of Ukraine as risk factors.

While Indonesian purchasing managers remain generally optimistic about the business outlook for the next 12 months, business confidence has dropped from the previous month.

Several issues still plague the local manufacturing sector, such as supply constraints and price pressures due to global inflation.

"[Business] confidence fell sharply over April, and it will be worth monitoring the impact of higher inflationary pressures.

"With that said, the increase in purchasing activity and importantly, the solid expansion of workforce numbers, continued to reflect some confidence from firms for the near term," S&P Global economics associate director Jingyi Pan said in a separate report released on Wednesday.

In response to the S&P Global reports, the Finance Ministry applauded the government’s successful pandemic handling and expressed hope that manufacturers’ inventory purchasing spree would generate a multiplier effect toward domestic recovery.

"To sustain strengthening consumption and production amid price pressures, the government is active in both price and non-price interventions through social protection for the poor and vulnerable, as well as through strong coordination between institutions to maintain balance between supply and demand," the ministry's Fiscal Policy Agency (BKF) head, Febrio Kacaribu, said in a press release.

Bhima Yudhistira, director of think tank Center of Economics and Law Studies (CELIOS), warned that input production costs could increase as a result of inflationary factors, meaning that an increase in sales would be less beneficial due to reduced profit margins.

He also told The Jakarta Post that he believed not all consumers could handle the burden of inflation-induced price increases from manufacturers.

"People living on lower or middle incomes would prefer affordable alternatives. The real challenge in the manufacturing sector will come after Idul Fitri,” he said, as the United States Federal Reserve’s rate hike would “affect the cost of funds, the cost of capital for businesses to expand". 

Source image: Employees make tofu on Jan. 20, 2022 at a cottage factory in Surabaya. - AFP
Source: TheStar  (Jakarta Post/ANN)

Moody’s affirms Thailand’s Baa1 rating and keeps outlook stable

Singapore, April 07, 2022 — Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has today affirmed the Government of Thailand’s Baa1 issuer and local currency senior unsecured ratings and maintained the outlook at stable. Moody’s has also affirmed Thailand’s foreign currency commercial paper rating at P-2.

The affirmation of the Baa1 ratings reflects Moody’s expectations that Thailand will continue to display economic resiliency to future shocks, underpinned by its large and diverse economy and strong macroeconomic policy effectiveness.

The rating also takes into account material downward pressure on the economy’s growth potential from rapid population ageing and likely long-term economic scarring from the pandemic.


Thailand’s fiscal metrics to remain stronger than most Baa-rated peers

While Moody’s expects Thailand’s government debt to increase and remain markedly higher than pre-pandemic norms, leaving the government with weakened fiscal strength for some time, Thailand’s fiscal metrics will still be stronger than most Baa-rated peers. Further, Moody’s assesses it likely that the government will quicken its pace of fiscal consolidation in the next two to three years once the economic recovery takes hold.


Balanced risks to Thailand’s credit profile

The stable outlook indicates balanced risks to Thailand’s credit profile. Thailand’s economic strength may benefit from productivity gains, including through the ramp-up of the Eastern Economic Corridor to a greater extent than Moody’s currently expects.

By contrast, the economic and social costs of ageing and Thailand’s capacity to absorb them have yet to be tested. Meanwhile, the authorities’ track record of effective macroeconomic policies, including prudent fiscal policies, despite noise in the political landscape, contributes to the stable outlook.

Thailand’s local and foreign currency country ceilings remain unchanged at Aa3 and A1, respectively. The four-notch gap between the local currency ceiling and sovereign rating reflects a balance between the country’s strong external balances and effective institutions, against the government’s relatively large footprint in the economy and moderate political risks.

The one notch gap between the foreign currency ceiling and the local currency ceiling takes into account Thailand’s history of imposing capital controls, although its low external indebtedness and high policy effectiveness reduce the risks of potential transfer and convertibility restrictions in very low-probability scenarios of the government seeing a need to impose them.


Sourse : Thailand Business News

US hails ‘new era’ with ASEAN as summit commits to raise level of ties

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden said on Friday a first summit in Washington with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) marked the launch of a “new era” in the relationship between the United States and the 10-nation bloc.

In a joint 28-point “vision statement” after a two-day meeting, the two sides took what analysts called a symbolic step of committing to raise their relationship from a strategic partnership to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” in November.

Both China and Australia hold a similar strategic partnership with ASEAN.

Biden told the ASEAN leaders that “a great deal of history of our world in the next 50 years is going to be written in the ASEAN countries, and our relationship with you is the future, in the coming years and decades.” 

Biden called the US-ASEAN partnership “critical” and said: “We’re launching a new era – a new era – in US-ASEAN relations.” Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States would remain in Southeast Asia for “generations” and stressed the need to maintain freedom of the seas, which the United States says is challenged by China.

“The United States and ASEAN have shared a vision for this region, and together we will guard against threats to international rules and norms,” Harris said.

Date of Release: 14 May 2022

Read the full article here

Dust off your passports: Brunei gov’t relaxes more travel protocols

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The government has announced a slew of new protocols for air travel, doing away with the Travel Green List and the need for quarantine upon arrival in Brunei. In a press conference Friday, the Minister of Home Affairs YB Pehin Dato Hj Awg Abu Bakar Hj Apong said there will be no longer be different health protocols based on a traveler’s departure country, only vaccination status. 

From May 6, the following new rules will come into effect: 
  • All vaccinated travelers will be allowed to enter/exit Brunei for non-essential travel.
  • The Travel Green List will be withdrawn. 
  • All travelers entering/exiting Brunei must be boosted with a third vaccine dose or have taken a second dose within the past three months.
  • Travelers entering Brunei no longer have to quarantine as long as they produce a negative ART result upon arrival.
  • They will also be required to perform an ART on day 2 and 3. PCR tests are no longer required for vaccinated travelers. 
  • Unvaccinated travelers can only enter Brunei if they have proof of a medical exemption. They must take an ART on arrival and a PCR test on day 3. They must also isolate until they receive their PCR result. 
  • From May 15, adolescents who are citizens or residents of Brunei must be boosted if they wish to exit the country.
Read the full article here

Brunei economy projected to grow 5.8 per cent

Brunei Darussalam’s economy is projected to grow 5.8 per cent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest Regional Economic Outlook report. 

IMF said economic growth in Asia and the Pacific is poised to slow more than previously estimated this year amid headwinds from the conflict in Ukraine, a resurgent pandemic, and tightening global financial conditions.

Regional gross domestic product will expand by 4.9 per cent, 0.5 per centage points less than we forecast in January and slower than last year’s 6.5 per cent growth rate, according to their latest projections. 

They also estimate that inflation will rise faster in many countries, though from relatively low levels.

Slower growth and rising prices, coupled with the challenges of war, infection and tightening financial conditions, will exacerbate the difficult policy trade-off between supporting recovery and containing inflation and debt.

The invasion of Ukraine will pose the biggest challenge for economic growth, with the region’s advanced economies hurt most by reduced demand from Europe and emerging markets feeling the effects of higher global commodity prices, according to the latest projections.

IMF latest World Economic Outlook also lowered the 2022 global growth estimate by 0.8 per centage point to 3.6 per cent. It reflects a 1.1 percentage point cut for the euro area, now seen expanding 2.8 per cent.

Read the full article here.

US businesses can play key role in ASEAN green transition

Businesses in the United States (US) can play an important role in channelling the critical investments, required expertise and technology transfer to ASEAN member states, in terms of promoting green transition.

This was said by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah during the meeting between ASEAN leaders and US business leaders at The Willard InterContinental, Washington DC, US on Thursday.

The minister said there is an opportunity to mobilise private capital to finance the initiative with ASEAN actively promoting a conducive ecosystem to attract sustainable investments and financing.

On energy, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew highlighted that ASEAN and US have embarked on initiatives such as the ASEAN-US Energy Cooperation Work Plan 2021-2025 and the ASEAN-US Climate Future Initiative.

He also said the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF), adopted in 2020 at the 37th ASEAN Summit, emphasised on the importance of sustainable energy and the promotion of green growth to boost the region’s economy. The minister shared that ASEAN has introduced few initiatives to align the region’s capital markets with the sustainability agenda, such as the adoption of the ASEAN Green Bonds Standards and ASEAN Sustainability Bonds Standards and the endorsement of the regional taxonomy for sustainable finance.

The meeting discussed issues related to ASEAN-US post pandemic economic futures on energy, climate and digitalisation, and served as a platform to enhance cooperation between US business leaders and ASEAN public and private sectors.


Read the full article here.

Indonesia, Brunei seek to improve transport links, says ambassador

Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam are exploring direct shipping between the two nations, which allows Indonesian products to be sold and delivered to the Sultanate cheaper and faster, said Ambassador of Indonesia to Brunei Darussalam Dr Sujatmiko on Saturday.

“It will facilitate the transport of products from Indonesia to Brunei Darussalam and vice versa. We have tried several times to begin shipping between our two countries without going through a third country,“ he said on the sidelines of a Hari Raya gathering, adding that Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia have close economic and trade ties while Indonesian products are commonly found in the Sultanate.

Meanwhile, the ambassador said Royal Brunei Airlines and Garuda Airlines have begun operations, which can give a boost to the tourism sector.

“Bruneians can now travel to cities like Bali, Batam and Jakarta,” he said.


Read the full article here.

Indonesia, Brazil lead the world in crypto adoption: survey

Hannah Lang (Reuters) Washington, United States

Almost half of all cryptocurrency owners in the United States, Latin America and Asia Pacific purchased the digital assets for the first time in 2021, according to a new survey from US cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. 

The survey of nearly 30,000 people across 20 countries, which was conducted between November 2021 and February 2022, shows 2021 was a blockbuster year for crypto, with inflation in particular driving adoption in countries that have experienced currency devaluation, the report found. 

Indonesia and Brazil lead the world in crypto adoption, Gemini found, with 41 percent of people surveyed in those countries reporting crypto ownership, compared with 20 percent in the United States and 18 percent in the United Kingdom. 

Gemini found that 79 percent of people who reported owning crypto last year said they chose to purchase the digital assets for their long-term investment potential. 

People who do not currently own crypto and live in countries that have experienced currency devaluation against the U.S. dollar were more than five times as likely to say they planned to purchase crypto as a hedge against inflation. 

Only 16 percent of respondents in the United States and 15 percent in Europe agreed that cryptocurrencies hedge against inflation, compared with 64 percent in Indonesia and India, for example. 

The Indian rupee has declined 17.5 percent against the dollar in the last five years, while the Indonesian rupiah depreciated 50 percent against the dollar between 2011 and 2020. 

Only 17 percent of Europeans reported that they owned digital assets in 2021, and only 7 percent of those who do not currently own crypto said they intended to buy digital assets at some point. 

It remains to be seen if the adoption momentum can keep pace this year. 

While the most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, hit an all-time high of more than $68,000 in November, helping to push the value of the cryptocurrency market to $3 trillion, according to CoinGecko, it has traded in the narrow range of $34,000-$44,000 for most of 2022 so far.

This article was published in with the title "Indonesia, Brazil lead the world in crypto adoption: survey - Tech - The Jakarta Post". 
Illustration:  Rocketing: In recent years, the stock and crypto markets have gained popularity immensely. The crypto market is also predicted to gain an even larger potential in the future. (Unsplash/Jeremy Bezanger) (Unsplash/Jeremy Bezanger)

PH GDP grows 8.3% in Q1 2022, says economic managers

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine economy grew 8.3 percent in the first quarter of 2022, surpassing the pre-pandemic gross domestic product level, the country’s economic managers said Thursday.

The growth likewise exceeded the median analyst forecast of 6.7 percent, the economic managers said.

“This is a significant reversal from the 3.8 percent contraction in the same period last year. Growth in the first quarter exceeded the median analyst forecast of 6.7 percent, making the Philippines the fastest growing economy in the East Asia Region for the period,” they said in a joint statement.

The economy also grew by 1.9% compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, they said.

The statement included Socioeconomic planning secretary Karl Chua, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Budget and Management officer-in-charge Tina Rose Marie Canda.

GDP, which is the total value of all finished goods and services in a country, is used by experts and policymakers to assess the economy’s health. The government also uses this number in decision-making.

A higher GDP figure is desirable as it lowers the debt-to-GDP ratio, a figure that illustrates the size of the economy relative to its debt obligations, which is closely monitored by credit rating agencies.

The economic managers also pointed out that the unemployment rate in the country fell to 5.8 percent in March, which is the lowest since the start of the pandemic, adding that employment creation is now at 4.4 million above the pre-pandemic level.

“We have restored many jobs and livelihoods by shifting to a more endemic mindset, accelerating vaccination, and implementing granular lockdowns that only targeted the areas of highest risk while allowing the majority of our people to work and earn a living,” they said.

“Growth in the first quarter of 2022 was broad-based as most sectors rebounded from their contractions in the same period last year,” they added.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

5 things to consider before launching a business in Taiwan

You’ve decided to live and work in Taiwan and begin mapping out your path to launching a business in Taiwan. But before you go any further, here are some things to think about.

Knowing if your business is a good match for Taiwan
As a hardware manufacturing hub, Taiwan is an obvious choice for multinationals like Apple, Google, and HP looking for partners and suppliers.

But zero-to-one companies may have a harder time identifying the best ways to leverage Taiwan’s capabilities. Since Taiwan’s strengths lie mostly in tech manufacturing, an SME that produces physical products, say, electric bicycles or 3D printers would have the greatest chance of success.

On the other hand, enterprises that are consumer-facing or predicated on a scale, e.g. selling a new elixir (kombucha or handcrafted beer) to Taiwan may need to rethink their plans or businesses that hope to use Taiwan as a stepping-stone to China may encounter more challenges.

Acquiring a government grant in Taiwan
Taiwan has done a great job advertising government support for start-ups. We have encountered many entrepreneurs upon their face visit to Taiwan inquiring about government grants for their startups.

It is important to understand that government grants are awarded not to individuals but to companies registered in Taiwan, so if you’re a foreign entrepreneur with a foreign company, then you need to establish a Taiwanese entity to qualify for a government grant.

Branch offices and representative offices are not eligible for grants. And while foreign workers with Taiwanese residency (ARC) are allowed to receive such subsidies, remote workers located outside Taiwan aren’t eligible. We cover this in greater detail on the process of applying for a government grant in Taiwan here.

Understanding accounting practices in Taiwan
It’s easy to assume that accounting practices are the same at home and abroad, but some aspects of Taiwan’s accounting procedures may come as a surprise.

Take business expenses as an example. In the US, business accounting operates within an “innocent-until-proven-guilty” framework, which means you can write off a business expense on your tax return with a receipt, even if it is written on a paper napkin.

But Taiwan’s business accounting framework is the opposite: you’re guilty until proven innocent. So to claim a business expense, you need to receive a Fa-Piao (發票) or a Uniform Invoice, but in order for it to be an expense deduction, you need to give the vendor your tax ID number, which needs to be typed or written on the official receipt you obtain from them.

Elsewhere, particularly in the context of start-ups, this accounting framework means that a payment you’ve made to a company registered outside Taiwan for a SaaS subscription or to a freelancer in Chiang Mai won’t be recognised by the Taiwanese government as a valid business expense. These are only two examples of how accounting practices in Taiwan can be completely different from other places.

Navigating the regulatory environment in Taiwan
Startups today are built for a digital, cross-border world, but managing cross-country jurisdictions can be a real huge headache from an administrative standpoint. Taiwan may be a liberal and open country, but when it comes to business practices it’s still relatively conservative.

The government in Taiwan oversees much of daily business. Taiwanese labour law, for example, takes precedence over any agreement that may be signed between a company and its employees, so employers and employees can’t enter into any private agreements as they would be able to, say, in the US.

And since the Taiwanese government plays a big role in business, foreign business owners will likely find themselves having to talk to multiple agencies to get answers to their business questions. This is where a service like 11th Fleet can help simplify the process.

11th Fleet’s outsourced CFO/COO solution can help avoid many missteps for entrepreneurs and companies that are new to Taiwan. Most importantly, 11th Fleet can help stave off trouble by helping its clients anticipate any problems that may arise along the way, saving its clients valuable time and money by avoiding detours.

Overcoming the language barrier in Taiwan
Taiwan is closer to Japan and South Korea in terms of English fluency than it is to Singapore or Hong Kong, where English is spoken as an official language.

Although the Taiwanese government is committed to making the country bilingual by 2030, business in Taiwan is still largely conducted in Mandarin, and business contracts and documents are written in Chinese.

This means foreign investors who aren’t fluent in the local language must take the extra step to have their official documents and contracts translated when registering their businesses in Taiwan.

Moreover, when you are ready for business, you should have someone on your team who can help you navigate the language and cultural barriers.

Source: e27

Govt announces full reopening of Laos starting May 9

The government has announced that all international border crossings will reopen, so that Lao and foreign nationals, well as stateless people, can enter and exit Laos freely.
The Prime Minister’s Office on Saturday (May 7) issued a notice declaring that borders would reopen.
The reopening of Laos and the lifting of restrictions under Notice No. 627 will come into effect on May 9, Head of the Secretariat of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Mrs Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, told a press conference on Saturday.

Citizens of countries that have signed a bilateral or unilateral visa waiver agreement with Laos can enter without applying for a visa.

Citizens of countries that have not signed visa waiver agreements with Laos can apply for a visa at Lao embassies or consulates in foreign countries. Visitors can also apply for a visa online or on arrival at border crossings where such service is available.

Lao and foreign nationals and stateless people aged 12 and older who have not been fully vaccinated are required to take a Covid-19 ATK test within 48 hours of their departure for Laos. However, they are no longer required to have a Covid test upon arrival. People who have a certificate indicating full Covid vaccination can enter Laos without needing to have a Covid test in either their departing country or upon arrival in Laos.

Visitors who contract Covid-19 during their stay in Laos are responsible for all expenses involved if treatment is needed. Treatment can be obtained at state and private hospitals, while self-isolation and self-care is other options.

Vehicles will be allowed to enter and exit as normal, the same as before the pandemic was declared. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport will issue instructions concerning the changes in this regard.
The government has called on state departments, business operators and all sectors of society to be ready to welcome and offer warm hospitality to tourists.

In addition, the government will allow entertainment venues including karaoke clubs to reopen, on condition that staff and customers comply with standard Covid control measures.

The taskforce will monitor the situation closely and revise virus control measures as needed, Mrs Thipphakone said.
“In the case of any changes (to measures), the government will inform the public,” she said.   

Deputy Minister of Health Dr Snong Thongsna told reporters the decision to fully reopen Laos was made in light of the declining number of Covid cases, both worldwide and in Laos.

The average number of new infections reported in Laos each day has plummeted tenfold, from almost 2,000 a day in February and March this year to less than 200 a day at present.

“The rate of infection is declining daily,” Dr Snong said. The Omicron variant is the dominant form of Covid currently circulating in Laos, with a few cases of the Delta variant also being recorded. As of May 7, a total of 208,715 infections had been reported, including 746 Covid-related deaths.