Vientiane (VNA) Laos’ Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism on April 4 banned activities at high risk of COVID-19 transmissions during the country’s traditional New Year festival.

Following the decision, all concerts, performances, and outdoor shows will be prohibited until the end of April.

The ban was issued following a surge in COVID-19 infections, with daily cases reaching more than 2,000 in recent weeks. Lao authorities are concerned that the number of new infections may spike as a result of the festivities, known locally as Bun Pi May, that will take place from April 14 - 16.

Various provinces and Vientiane have also imposed restrictions. In the capital, the Vientiane administration has banned state agencies, private organisations and individuals from holding prayer ceremonies. It also cancelled the Nang Sang Khan (Miss Lao New Year) contest and the Parade of Nang Sang Khan. Local people were also banned from splashing water on one another, a traditional activity during the New Year festival.

The Lao Ministry of Health reported on April 5 reported 2,272 new infections in 24 hours, raising the total cases to 186,870, including 682 deaths./.