Myanmar Health Ministry Warns of Possible Coronavirus Outbreak as Global Toll Climbs

By The Irrawaddy 24 February 2020

YANGON—The Health Ministry on Sunday warned that Myanmar remained at risk of an outbreak of the coronavirus and advised people to avoid mass gatherings. The public caution was issued as the death toll from the virus continued to rise both in and outside China, where the epidemic originated.

The virus, officially known as COVID-19, has killed more than 2,500 people in China, with the total number of confirmed infections there reaching 77,150 as of Monday afternoon, according to Chinese health authorities. Outside China, South Korea had reported 763 confirmed cases as of Monday with seven deaths. Infections have been reported as far away as Italy, where 150 cases have been found.

However, China’s neighbor Myanmar has yet to report any cases.

As of Sunday night, the country’s Health and Sports Ministry declared, no COVID-19 patients had been found in the country.

The ministry on Sunday warned people to avoid mass gatherings as much as possible, despite the absence of any local cases so far, emphasizing that with the number of infections still rising in China, a local outbreak was still possible.

“Only essential gatherings should be allowed and, if held, participants must strictly follow the precautionary guidelines issued by the ministry,” it said.

Since January, a few suspected cases of the virus have been reported in Myanmar, including some Chinese travelers from the mainland. However, all the cases tested negative, according to the ministry.

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