Coronavirus: Laos reports first death; unlinked Singapore cases rise to 13

a group of people standing in front of a building: Members of a Chinese medical expert team visit a Covid-19 sampling site in Vientiane, Laos, on Friday. Photo: Chinese medical expert team via Xinhua © XINHUA Members of a Chinese medical expert team visit a Covid-19 sampling site in Vientiane, Laos, on Friday. Photo: Chinese medical expert team via Xinhua

A Vietnamese woman died from Covid-19 in Laos on Sunday, according to state-run media, marking the first death from the disease in the impoverished communist country.

Reclusive, landlocked Laos had appeared to escape the brunt of the pandemic in 2020, but a community outbreak uncovered last month has sent the number of cases soaring - from 49 in early April to 1,302 in less than a month.

Authorities confirmed on Sunday that a 53-year-old Vietnamese woman had died from Covid-19, according to state-run news outlet Vientiane Times - the first fatality from the disease recorded in the country.

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The woman worked at a karaoke club in the capital Vientiane and had underlying health issues - such as diabetes - which meant her condition deteriorated quickly, said the report.

Vietnamese state-run media had earlier in the day reported that Vietnam's ministry of health conducted a "tele-health consultation" with the Vientiane hospital, but the patient died at 1am.

The community outbreak in mid-April was traced to a Laotian national who came into contact with Thais, as well as to workers returning from neighbouring Thailand - which is currently undergoing its third wave.

Vientiane promptly went into a snap lockdown, barring residents from leaving their homes except for essentials and medical help, and travel was prohibited between the capital and other provinces.

Impoverished Laos is one of the most underdeveloped countries in Southeast Asia, and experts say its low official Covid-19 toll in 2020 was probably due to a dearth of testing.

Coronavirus: Laos reports first death; unlinked Singapore cases rise to 13