Myanmar Authorities Hunt More Than 4,000 Returnees from Rakhine in COVID-19 Clampdown

By Aung Thiha 1 September 2020

Yangon — More than 4,000 people who recently returned to Yangon from Rakhine State — which has become Myanmar’s COVID-19 hotspot — have yet to report to the authorities, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Around 5,300 people returned to Yangon from Rakhine State between Aug. 10 and Aug. 20 and only 757 of them have reported to the health authorities. They have been placed in quarantine along with some 800 people who returned to Yangon by bus or plane from Rakhine after Aug. 20, said Dr. Moh Moh Theingi of Yangon Region Health Department.

Many are not answering phone calls from the health authorities or have given incorrect numbers and thus could not be traced, she said.

“We want them to isolate at home and contact us as soon as possible so that we can test them for coronavirus,” she added.

Currently, the health authorities have only required those who returned to Yangon from Rakhine State between Aug. 10 and Aug. 20 to undergo quarantine at home and placed those who returned after Aug. 20 in isolation at hotels and quarantine centers.

“The majority of infected patients are asymptomatic. The virus is detected only through lab tests. Even if you are fine with the virus, it is risky for elderly and sick people in your family,” said Dr. Moh Moh Theingi.

So far around 800 out of the 1,600 people in quarantine have been tested, according to Yangon’s health department.

“The health authorities checked the symptoms and, as I had none, they told me to undergo quarantine at home. They came and took my sample,” said a photojournalist at a private daily newspaper who flew to Yangon from Rakhine State on Aug.16.

Ten transmissions were reported in Yangon this week, 14 people who returned from Rakhine tested positive for the virus and 194 people who came into contact with them are also being kept in quarantine.

The health ministry has formed a team to contact those who returned from Rakhine to Yangon.

It announced on Saturday that it would take legal action under the Disaster Management Law against those who fail to report to the health authorities.

As of Sept. 1, Myanmar has reported 887 COVID-19 cases with 354 recoveries.

 Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

You may also like these stories:

Fears Grow for IDPs in Myanmar’s Rakhine as COVID-19 Outbreak Disrupts Food, Health Services

Myanmar Police Station in Lockdown After Chief Fails COVID-19 Test