COVID-19 Spreads Among Students in Kachin Independence Army Territory

By The Irrawaddy 13 July 2021

More than 220 students have caught coronavirus in Maijayang, a town controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on the Chinese border in Kachin State, said KIA information officer Colonel Naw Bu.

The ethnic armed group has carried out COVID-19 tests in the town after three outsiders were found to be infected with coronavirus last week. Maijayang College alone accounted for around 150 cases.

“We have isolated the infected people and are providing food and other necessities for them. We have imposed a lockdown on the town to prevent an outbreak,” said Col. Naw Bu.

There are some 2,000 school pupils and students in Maijayang, and all the schools have been closed.

Health workers take nasal swabs from students in Maijayang. / Mai Ja Yang Institute of Education

Most of the infected students did not have COVID-19 symptoms and are non-residents of the town attending Maijayang College, which opened on June 21. Some young people in the town have been vaccinated against coronavirus, according to the KIA.

The KIA has formed a COVID-19 prevention committee since the pandemic hit Myanmar in March last year. With help from China, the armed group tests and provides treatment for COVID-19 patients in its territory and has previously been able to control the pandemic.

It said it had vaccinated over 20,000 people in Maijayang and Laiza, where it is based, since February. The two towns have been under lockdown and the KIA on July 4 banned travel between the two.

After three COVID-19 cases were detected in Maijayang on July 8, all schools and churches in the town were closed and COVID-19 tests are being carried out on everyone, including infants.

Health workers take nasal swabs from students in Maijayang. / Mai Ja Yang Institute of Education

“We have been asked to stay indoors and they said even infants will be tested for coronavirus,” said a female Maijayang resident.

Maijayang is dubbed the KIA’s seat of education, being home to Maijayang College, the Institute of Liberal Arts and Science and the Federal Law Academy, open to students from all ethnic groups across Myanmar.

The armed group said schools, churches and sports classes will be closed until July 18 in Maijayang.

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