Myanmar Orders Quarantine, Monitoring for Arrivals from Countries Hit by Coronavirus
By Nan Lwin 16 March 2020
YANGON—The Myanmar government has ordered mandatory quarantines or surveillance for travelers arriving from eight countries that have been hit badly by the COVID-19 outbreak, as a precautionary measurement to limit the risk of spreading the disease within Myanmar. Travelers are also required to present medical certificates stating they have no symptoms of acute respiratory illness.
During a meeting about COVID-19 prevention and control on Sunday, Minister of Health and Sports U Myint Htwe said the new restriction would go into effect that day as the World Health Organization (WHO) has called on governments around the world to scale up their responses to contain the pandemic.
Last week, the WHO declared the outbreak a global pandemic as more than 170,000 people have been infected with the disease around the world so far.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced on Sunday that all incoming travelers, including Myanmar citizens, who have been in Korea, Italy, Iran, France, Spain or Germany in the past 14 days will be placed in government quarantine facilities or home quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Travelers who have been in the United States or China in the past 14 days will be put under surveillance for 14 days.
Foreign nationals who have been in high-risk areas such as China’s Hubei Province and South Korea’s Daegu and Gyeongbuk Region in the past 14 days will not be allowed to enter Myanmar until further notice. Myanmar citizens arriving from these high-risk areas will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in government facilities.
MOFA said that all travelers, including Myanmar citizens, who have been in other areas of South Korea in the past 14 days will be subject to a 14-day home quarantine upon arrival and must also submit a medical certificate showing they have no symptoms of acute respiratory illness.
Anyone who has been in Italy, Iran, France, Spain or Germany in the past 14 days will be subject to a 14-day government facility quarantine upon arrival in Myanmar. Diplomats accredited by Myanmar and resident United Nations officials arriving from the above countries will be subject to a 14-day home quarantine.
Travelers who have been in China, Korea, Italy, Iran, France, Spain or Germany in the past 14 days will also need to submit a medical certificate showing they have no symptoms of acute respiratory illness, including a fever and cough or shortness of breath, before boarding any flight bound for Myanmar. The certificate must be from a medical facility recognized by the respective country’s health authority.
MOFA asked that any foreign national who has a compelling or official reason to visit Myanmar contact the nearest Myanmar embassy or consulate to obtain the necessary entry visa and ease quarantine procedures.
The Myanmar government has said it is constantly monitoring the status of the coronavirus outbreak and will make further announcements as needed.
The Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) confirmed that they received the notification from the government regarding the new restriction.
On Sunday, the UK Embassy in Myanmar announced that the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel to Myanmar due to the risk of quarantine for British nationals arriving in the country as of Sunday.
“The worldwide coronavirus outbreak is expected to put significant pressure on Myanmar’s medical facilities. They may not be able to offer routine care,” the UK Embassy said.
On Sunday, about 20 tourists from France, Germany and other European countries were turned back at Yangon International Airport as they were not willing to stay in government quarantine, according to UMTA.
As of Sunday, Myanmar health officials have tested 121 people for possible coronavirus infection and none have tested positive, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS). According to the MOHS, lab results for 7 suspected patients are still pending and another 2 people have been added to the suspected patient list.
On Friday, the government banned public gatherings until the end of April, including the upcoming Thingyan Water Festival.
U Myint Htwe said the MOHS also planned to use the Public Heath Training Center in Yangon’s Hlegu Township and the Theinbyu Stadium in Yangon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township as quarantine centers.
U Myint Htwe said that the MOHS will also have discussions with Yangon Bus Services about issues with air-conditioned bus service, as the risk of transmission is high in enclosed spaces.
He also suggested that handheld megaphones could be used for public awareness campaigns at highway bus terminals in Yangon and other regions.
The COVID-19 outbreak began in China and, as of Monday afternoon, had infected 167,392 people around the world. According to Chinese health authorities, it has infected over 80,000 and killed more than 3,000 people inside the country. Italy has reported nearly 25,000 confirmed cases with 1,809 deaths. Iran has reported more than 14,000 cases with 724 deaths while South Korea has reported more than 8,000 people infected and 75 deaths.
In Spain, nearly 8,000 people have been infected, including 288 deaths. Nearly 5,500 people in France have been infected, including 127 deaths, and nearly 5,000 people in Germany have been infected, including 12 deaths.
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