Laos seeking more COVID-19 vaccine sources hinh anh 1Medical workers at a COVID-19 testing site in Vientiane, Laos. (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavan on May 17 afternoon asked relevant ministries and agencies to seek more COVID-19 vaccine sources in order to accelerate the national vaccination rollout.

The Lao government has viewed inoculation as the unique way to drive back the pandemic, and aimed to vaccinate half of the country’s population this year, instead of 22 percent as set earlier.

By May 16, a total of 623,577 people or about 9 percent of the population had received COVID-19 vaccine shots, of whom 90,405 had got their second jabs.

The Lao health ministry on May 18 reported 49 new COVID-19 cases in the country, including 15 imported cases that had been quarantined upon their arrival in Champasak province.

Of the latest cases, eight were found in Vientiane capital city and 26 in Bokeo province.

The national tally now stands at 1,687, with 686 recoveries and two deaths.

The Vietnamese Association in Laos said as of May 17 afternoon, 18 out of 68 COVID-19 Vietnamese patients in Laos had been given the all-clear, and there was one fatality.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is stepping up its vaccination programme, with the start of company-funded inoculations for employees on May 18.

Workers in labour-intensive industries such as food and petrochemicals will be the first to receive their vaccinations under the rollout, as the country casts its eye on maintaining its economic output.

President Joko Widodo said Indonesia expects to be able to vaccinate 70 million citizens by this August or no later than September.

Since the country launched the national vaccination programme in mid-January, about 14 million citizens have received the vaccine shots, of whom 9 million have completed taking the two doses.

It aims to administer the vaccines to 187 million people within 15 months since the start of the inoculation drive.

As of May 18, the country had recorded 1.7 million COVID-19 cases, including 48,305 fatalities.

Malaysia on May 18 also reported a daily record of 4,865 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country's cumulative total to 479,421.

In a Twitter post, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Selangor had 1,743 new cases, remaining as the state with the highest figure.

Given the surge in new cases, Noor Hisham has expressed his support for another lockdown to prevent the pandemic spread.

The whole of Malaysia has been under the Movement Control Order (MCO) from May 12 to June 7./.