India-Myanmar Border Town Opposes Quarantine Center Amid COVID-19 Fears

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 16 June 2020

Yangon – Civil society organizations and residents in Sagaing Region’s Tamu Township on the Indian border have objected to plans to use a sports hall as a quarantine center for returnees from India.

More than 100 migrants, who have been stranded in the Indian state of Manipur by COVID-19, are due to return soon through the Tamu-Moreh border.

The Tamu Township authorities planned to place returnees in the sports hall for 21 days.

But 28 organizations and community elders on June 15 submitted a letter to the National Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment on COVID-19 opposing the plan, according to representative Ko Aung Thu Chan.

He told The Irrawaddy that were asking for the committee to find an alternative site if the township must receive the returnees.

It also asked for the committee to send returnees to be quarantined in their home townships, bypassing Tamu.

“The township’s sports hall is unsuitable for quarantine as it is in the town center, surrounded by many restaurants and temporary markets, which could risk spreading coronavirus,” said Ko Aung Thu Chan.

The letter expressed concern that returnees were coming from Manipur, a COVID-19 hotspot in India.

“It is not that we are unwilling to help those returnees but we are afraid since they could have been infected in India,” Ko Nay Aung of Tamu told The Irrawaddy.

Township administrator U Myo Min Aung told The Irrawaddy that an alternative site was being sought in response to the opposition.

U Maung Maung Latt, Tamu’s Upper House lawmaker, told The Irrawaddy that the sports hall was selected by the regional government.

Approximately 50 Tamu residents returning from overseas have already been placed at a different quarantine center in the township.

By June 16, Myanmar reported 262 COVID-19 cases, including six deaths and 175 recoveries.