Myanmar’s Rakhine State Capital Under Curfew as COVID-19 Cases Spike

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 21 August 2020

Yangon–Rakhine State’s government imposed a nighttime curfew in its capital, Sittwe, on Friday in response to the spread of coronavirus after seeing 19 COVID-19 cases in the township within six days.

The 19 cases, including a specialist doctor at the state’s general hospital, were spotted within six days from Sunday to Friday morning after no domestic transmissions for a month across Myanmar.

On Sunday, Myanmar reported the first case with a 26-year-old employee of CB Bank in Sittwe, who had no overseas travel history and no recorded contact with a known COVID-19 patient.

Three more cases were found on Wednesday morning and another two were reported on Thursday morning.

Three cases were reported on Thursday evening and 10 more in Sittwe on Friday morning.

On Friday, township administrators announced a two-month curfew from 9pm to 4am.

The administrators said those violating the curfew will be prosecuted. 

On Thursday, the state’s health authorities also imposed partial lockdowns in parts of Sittwe’s Kone Tan, Myothagyi, Danyawaddy and Ywartaunggyi quarters, where the infected patients live. 

Entry to the areas has been restricted.

“We imposed the curfew to contain the spread of COVID-19. It aims to reduce the people on the roads and to prevent gatherings at night,” Rakhine municipal minister U Win Myint told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

He added that the state chief minister, U Nyi Pu, and one of his ministers had also been isolated for having contact history with a COVID-19 patient, a staff member at the Sittwe Administrative Department.

The two tested negative, said U Win Myint.

The patient flew with Myanmar National Airlines from Sittwe to Kyaukphyu on Aug. 2. The airline has suspended flights between Sittwe and Yangon for two weeks due to the outbreak in Sittwe.

U Ko Lay Win, director general at the Department of Education, told the media on Friday that all schools in Rakhine State were being temporarily closed.

“The closures will last longer if there are many transmissions. But we are ready to reopen schools if the spread of the virus can be contained within two weeks,” said U Ko Lay Win.

Yangon Regional Minister for Social Affairs U Naing Ngan Lin posted on Facebook that anyone traveling from Sittwe to Yangon would face quarantine for 21 days and two COVID-19 tests.

The Ministry of Health and Sports told the media on Friday that the Department of Medical Research found the D614G mutation of coronavirus that is 10 times more infectious than COVID-19.

Dr. Myat Htut Nyunt, deputy director of the department, said patients in Rakhine State will be studied.

As of Friday morning, 409 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Myanmar, including six deaths and 333 recoveries.

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