Amid Coronavirus Fears, Two Feverish Workers Quarantined at Myanmar-China Border

By Zarni Mann 27 January 2020

MANDALAY – As the Ministry of Health and Sport extends border screening stations, two Myanmar nationals with a high fever were detected at the Muse checkpoint on the Chinese border in northern Shan State on Monday.

A spokesman for the Muse General Hospital said the feverish man and woman were under medical surveillance.

“The man is suffering from flu and he was treated in the outpatient department. The woman’s temperature is exceeding 38 degrees Celsius. She is under surveillance. It is too early to say if they are infected with the coronavirus,” he told The Irrawaddy.

They were migrant workers traveling back to Myanmar from Ruili for Chinese New Year, the spokesman said.

“We began screening travelers on Jan. 15. These are the first cases of fever we have found. They are in quarantine and under surveillance. We are doing all the tests for them,” he added.

The ministry said there were checkpoints in Panwah in Kachin State, Chinshwehaw in Kokang and Mongkoe in eastern Shan State.

The Mongla Peace and Solidarity Committee in Mongla Special Region 4 in eastern Shan State said it had closed all casinos and canceled public ceremonies.

Mongla, on the Chinese border, is a popular destination for Chinese New Year with Chinese and Thai tourists heading to its casinos, restaurants, karaoke lounges and gambling dens.

The committee said in a statement that medics were screening arrivals at the border and urged the public to contact the authorities if they were sick or saw others who were suffering.

The sale of wild animals for food has been forbidden in markets and restaurants. The statement warned against spreading fake news and threatened to prosecute anyone caught distributing confusing rumors.

“We worry about the spread of infection and have told the public to use proper hygiene, wear masks and avoid public gatherings,” said U Nyi Rang, a spokesman for the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

He said the border checkpoints had quarantine centers which were ready to treat patients.

Authorities at the border in the Kokang Special Region in northern Shan State are enforcing screening.

“The authorities are distributing handouts on the virus and what precautions to take,” said U Kyaw Ni Naing, the Lower House parliamentarian for Laukkai.

The Fruit Commodity Exchange at Muse on Monday told traders to stay away.

It said no Chinese traders were buying fruit.

“Fruit traders and farmers should not send their goods to Muse. They will be left to rot as no one will be here to buy them until China declares the virus is controllable and lifts the travel ban,” said U Sai Myint Bo, the chairman of the commodity exchange in Muse.

The Mahagandayon Monastery, one of Mandalay’s main tourist destinations, has banned Chinese visitors.
The jade market, which depends largely on Chinese jewelers and traders, is also almost deserted.

“The jade traders also cannot visit the Chinese border to sell their goods due to the travel ban. Most think the new year will be disastrous for the jade trade,” said Ma Khet Khet Tin, a jade and jewelry trader.

On Sunday, China said the death toll from the coronavirus was 81 with 2,827 confirmed infections. The numbers could not be independently verified. There were 461 patients in a critical condition and 51 patients had been discharged, the authorities said.

The World Health Organization said on Sunday that there were three coronavirus cases in Japan, four in South Korea, two in Vietnam, eight in Thailand, one in Nepal, four in Australia, three in France, four in the United States, four in Singapore, four in Taiwan and four in Malaysia.