Myanmar Border Town Locked Down by KIA as New COVID-19 Infections Emerge

By The Irrawaddy 9 July 2021

Ethnic armed group the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has locked down Majiayang in Kachin State, a town under its control, after new COVID-19 cases were reported in the town on the Myanmar-China border.

“Three visitors to Maijayang were found to be infected with coronavirus on Wednesday. So we have imposed a lockdown on the town,” said KIA information officer Colonel Naw Bu.

The three patients did not have symptoms, but nasal swab tests revealed that they had contracted the virus.

KIA authorities have also restricted travel between Maijayang and Laiza, the KIA headquarters. Previously, visitors were allowed into those towns but were tested for coronavirus on arrival and placed in quarantine.

“For the time being, we are monitoring the situation. Schools and churches in Majiayang have been closed for one week. If the virus spreads more, they will be closed for longer. But schools and churches are open in Laiza. The situation is OK there,” said Col. Naw Bu.

The KIA’s COVID-19 prevention and control committee also released a statement on Thursday, announcing the closure of schools and churches in Maijayang and advising against gatherings in the town. Measure are also being taken to prevent people from sneaking into both Majiayang and Laiza.

Committee secretary Captain Hein Wan said that more than 60,000 people aged over 18 have registered to receive vaccinations in Laiza and Majiayang and over 20,000 of them have received jabs.

The KIA launched its vaccination program in February, after China supplied the ethnic armed group with free coronavirus vaccines.

Two COVID-19 patients were receiving treatment in Laiza in the first week of July, while around 200 people are in quarantine centers in Laiza and Maijayang, according to Capt. Hein Wan.

Coronavirus cases were first reported in Myanmar in March last year, when ethnic armed organizations including the KIA were short of protective equipment and testing kits.

The then National League for Democracy government announced a ‘No one left behind’ policy on COVID-19 prevention and treatment, including in the areas controlled by ethnic armed organizations. But none of the groups received proper assistance.

Since then, the KIA has taken COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment measures on its own, with the assistance of China, which has provided the KIA with medical training and COVID-19 testing equipment.

KIA troops have been fighting junta forces since March, after warning the military regime not to hurt Kachin people protesting the Feb. 1 coup.

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