Myanmar’s Bustling Jade Hub Under COVID-19 Lockdown
By Zaw Zaw Htwe 20 October 2020
Yangon – Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports has imposed a partial lockdown on two townships in Kachin State, including jade hub Hpakant, after several COVID-19 cases were detected among people who had no travel history or contact with known COVID-19 carries.
On Oct. 19, Kachin State reported 87 coronavirus cases. Hpakant Township, which has more than 331,000 residents and approximately 300,000 additional migrants, has reported 59 cases.
Since Sept. 21, the Kachin State government has instructed residents in Hpakant to stay at home.
Mohnyin Township, with more than 209,000 people, has reported 17 COVID-19 cases.
On Monday, the health ministry ordered the residents of Hpakant and Mohnyin townships not to leave their homes without a proper reason while allowing essential businesses to remain open.
All businesses and organizations in the townships have been ordered to work from home while government staff are instructed to work from home for two weeks and to only use their offices afterwards in shifts.
Residents must ask for permission from the authorities if they have urgent matters or if they need more than one person to leave the home.
Under the stay-at-home orders, residents are ordered to wear face masks when outside.
The health ministry said people who failed to comply with the orders would face prosecution.
Ko Maung Myo, a Lonekhin villager in Hpakant Township, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that residents at first were afraid of coronavirus and had complied with the state’s orders last month. There were checkpoints at village and town entry gates.
But now people in the township are less afraid of the virus and going outside more frequently, despite the health ministry orders, he said.
“This morning I went shopping in Hpakant and I didn’t see any checkpoints like before. Teashops are allowing customers in although it is not allowed,” Ko Maung Myo said.
In a televised speech on Monday, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called for care as coronavirus spread across many regions and states.
“Please don’t let your guard down because you think only Yangon is dangerous. Infections can spread to your state and region,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said. “An infection can come at any time”.
Myanmar has been experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 since Aug. 16, when the country’s first domestic transmission in a month was detected in the Rakhine State capital, Sittwe.
Since Aug. 16, Myanmar has reported 36,831 COVID-19 cases and 908 fatalities, compared with 374 cases and six deaths from March 23 to Aug. 16.
On Tuesday morning, Myanmar reported 37,205 COVID-19 cases, including 914 deaths and 17,568 recoveries.
Cases have been reported at more than 200 townships across 15 regions and states.
On Monday noon, Myanmar’s COVID-19 hotspot, Yangon, reported 29,367 cases, followed by Rakhine State with more than 2,560 cases.
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