Election 2020

Myanmar Migrants Deported from Malaysia Test Positive for COVID-19

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 18 May 2020

YANGON—Myanmar has reported six more cases of COVID-19 since Saturday, five of which are Myanmar migrants who recently returned from Malaysia.

Last Monday, nearly 400 undocumented Myanmar migrant workers were deported by the Malaysia government on two chartered flights after being detained at immigration detention camps across the country.

U Aung Zaw Min, labor attaché at the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, told The Irrawaddy that the workers were stranded in the detention centers for several months due to the suspension of flights and lockdown under the Malaysian government’s Movement Control Order, issued on March 18 to control the spread of COVID-19.

On Saturday, the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) announced that one of the returnees, a 32-year-old man from Thantlang Township in Chin State, tested positive for COVID-19. The patient had already been placed in quarantine upon his return, according to MOHS and lawmakers.

On Monday, MOHS reported that three more returnees tested positive for COVID-19, two from Karen State and one from Tanintharyi Region.

U Saw Bo Bo Wai Maung, the Karen State social affairs minister, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that a total of 16 of the returned migrant workers are from Karen State and all are in quarantine centers in Hpa-An, separated from returnees from Thailand and other patients.

“We had to test them quickly as one of the returnees from Chin State tested positive for COVID-19. Here, two out of a total of 16 returnees from Malaysia tested positive for the virus and the others are free of the virus,” said U Saw Bo Bo Wai Maung.

He also said that seven volunteers who are working at the quarantine centers will be tested for COVID-19, along with a driver and a bus conductor who drove the migrant returnees from the Yangon Airport to Karen State.

U Kyaw Min, Tahnintharyi’s immigration and human resources minister, told The Irrawaddy on Monday there are 21 migrant returnees in his region, one of whom tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The patient is now isolated at the Dawei Hospital and he is in good health,” said U Kyaw Min.

One returnee from Yangon’s Pazundaung Township, a 41-year-old man, has also tested positive for COVID-19.

U Khin Maung Win, the Yangon regional lawmaker from Pazundaung, told The Irrawaddy that the patient arrived in Yangon from Malaysia on May 8 on a repatriation flight and tested positive for COVID-19 while isolated in a quarantine center in Thingangyun Township.

On Sunday, MOHS reported that a 57-year-old man from Yangon’s Mayangone Township tested positive for COVID-19 despite having no travel history or history of contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Since April 30, Myanmar has been organizing repatriation flights to bring nationals home who are stranded abroad due to suspensions of flights and lockdowns.

As of Monday, the government has brought home 2,072 Myanmar nationals from more than 10 countries, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, the US, Italy, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Myanmar has reported a total of 187 COVID-19 cases, inducing six deaths and 97 recoveries.

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