Myanmar Regime Locks Down Chinese Border Town Amid COVID-19 Spike

By The Irrawaddy 28 June 2021

Myanmar’s military regime locked down Laukkai Township in northern Shan State’s Kokang Self-Administrative Zone near the Chinese border on Monday as more than 100 COVID-19 positive cases have been reported within 10 days.

It becomes the second Shan township to impose a stay-at-home order, following Lashio on Sunday. Lashio recorded more than 300 COVID-19 cases by June 27.

COVID-19 positive cases have been rising in northern Shan State, including Lashio, Nawng Cho, Kalaw, Hspiaw, Namkham, Kutkai, Laukkai and Chin Shwe Haw townships in the last two weeks.

The restrictions on travel have been imposed since June 23, with limited numbers allowed into Laukkai, according to a migrant working at a hotel in Laukkai.

“We are staying indoors. We were told the restrictions would be lifted on July 6, however, as the cases are rising we think it will be extended,” said the migrant worker on condition of anonymity.

The worker said they had been tested for coronavirus and are awaiting the results. Some residents have received coronavirus jabs.

Laukkai was locked down from April 23 to May 1 due to COVID-19.

Residents said the transport of goods and passengers has been suspended. Some of Laukkai’s many construction workers have returned to their homes as work is suspended.

Kokang’s COVID-19 Disease Control and Response Committee has threatened to act against anyone entering the township illegally.

The committee said it “would take action against armed groups which are helping those illegally entering the township. Companies or departments are not allowed to hire anyone without a COVID-19 test certificate and could be charged under the Natural Disaster Management Law.”

On Sunday 804 new COVID-19 cases were reported across Myanmar, according to the junta’s Ministry of Health and Sports. Myanmar on Sunday recorded 153,160 COVID-19 cases with 3,297 deaths nationwide. Coronavirus testing decreased following the military coup on Feb. 1 with health-care workers starting the civil disobedience movement.

Myanmar has been hit by a fresh wave of COVID-19 since May with most cases near the Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi borders.

Sagaing Region, which borders India, has seen the largest number of cases, followed by Chin State, which is also on the Indian border. Clusters of infections have also been reported in Yangon and adjacent Bago Region.

The regime has previously imposed stay-at-home orders on nine townships: Tamu and Kale in Sagaing Region; Tonzang, Hakha, Tedim, Falam and Thantlang townships in Chin State; and Bago Region’s Letpadan and Phyu townships.

Last week, three people who had received two COVID-19 jabs tested positive in Maungdaw, a border town with Bangladesh in Rakhine State.

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