Chanthone discussing with her acquaintances at the workshop. Photo by: UNDP Lao PDR

Chanthone Xayyavong, a 48-year-old mother of 3 was assigned to be one of the people in charge of the Bokeo quarantine center, since its establishment approximately six months ago. As a health professional, she had never experienced working with so many counterparts before.

On March 24th, Bokeo was designated as a quarantine facility for returning workers from abroad, and as the Deputy Sector Head of Treatment, Chanthone and her team were given a set of duties.

Initially, as migrant workers began returning home, there weren’t too many concerns. But later, when control measures were starting to be lifted, there were a few workers who escaped from the quarantine center.

Bokeo Province Quarantine Center


Those individuals that escaped were people with a history of substance and drug abuse, she says. They were not locals of Bokeo Province but came into Laos after they were caught by a neighboring country’s police and sent back.

Chanthone’s team learned that they need more than just health workers to cope with the situation. They needed to check and evaluate the mental health of returnees, and to observe what kind of problems they may have, and coordinate with the police officers at the quarantine center, to be on alert.

Given that those who escaped may not have fully understood the importance of quarantining towards prevention of spreading the virus, she was certain that they had no bad intentions.