Myanmar Citizens Face COVID-19 Prosecutions for Breaching Rules

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 10 April 2020

Yangon – To combat COVID-19, Myanmar’s authorities say they will take a zero-tolerance approach to anyone breaching social-distancing rules.

Action has already been taken against several people and businesses under the Prevention and Control of Communicable Disease Law and Natural Disaster Management Law.

Other action has been taken against people who failed to follow the instructions of health teams.

Returning migrants in Ayeyarwady and Sagaing regions have also faced action for refusing to stay in quarantine centers.

A returnee who fled quarantine in Lemyethna Township in Ayeyarwady Region was sentenced to three months with hard labor under the communicable diseases law. Another returnee in Sagaing Region’s Pale Township was jailed for six months under the law.

A couple from Mogoke in Mandalay Region were charged for refusing to allow a health team to check their temperature and for trying to assault and abuse the staff.

A Mandalay bus company, Pan Taw Oo, has been banned for allowing too many passengers on a coach, violating a regional social-distancing order.

The regional government said on March 29 that buses must be no more than half-full but operators could double the charges to cover their costs.

But the bus company reportedly allowed passengers to fill the seats and stand in the aisle while also doubling fees.

In Bago Region’s Gyobingauk Township, police are looking for murder suspects, including a guesthouse owner who was allegedly involved in an attack against the family of a 100-household administrator. The attack followed an argument about a guest who was suspected of having COVID-19.

On Saturday, the administrator argued with the guesthouse owner after he led community elders to inspect the guesthouse in the ward after receiving reports that a guest was sick and coughing.

The following day, the guesthouse owner allegedly led approximately 20 sword-wielding people to the administrator’s house. Two of the administrator’s relatives were seriously injured and another was killed although the administrator and his immediate family escaped.

A man from Bago’s Yaytarshay Township has been charged with spreading fake news about COVID-19 on social media.

The man posted, “Ba Ring Gone is positive” on a Yaytarshay Facebook group. A township administrator filed a lawsuit against the man under the communicable diseases law.

A bridegroom who held a wedding reception in Tamu, Sagaing Region, was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 1 million kyats (US$700) last Friday for failing to avoid drawing a crowd.

On Wednesday, the police in Yay Oo Township, Sagaing Region, told the media that the township court sentenced a man to six months in prison for fleeing a hospital.

The suspected COVID-19 patient, who has been isolated at the hospital, fled after testing negative but while he was still required to stay in quarantine.

Ayeyarwady Region’s Ingapu Township filed a lawsuit against a bridegroom and his father-in-law over another wedding reception.

Administrators had asked the bridegroom, 23, and his father-in-law to cancel the reception in Thayettaw village.

The two men face up to a year in prison under the Natural Disaster Management Law.

Irrawaddy reporter Salai Thant Zin contributed to this report.

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