Two Myanmar Towns on Indian Border Locked Down Amid COVID-19 Spike

By The Irrawaddy 29 May 2021

Myanmar’s military regime has imposed stay-at-home orders upon two towns on the Indian border in the country’s northwest, Chin State’s Tunzan (Tonzang) Township and Sagaing Region’s Tamu town, after a spike in COVID-19 cases there.

The orders were issued Friday after Myanmar reported 96 new cases of COVID-19 a day earlier, the country’s highest daily rise in coronavirus cases since Feb. 6.

More than a dozen people tested positive for COVID-19 at Tonzang Public Hospital and Cikha town’s hospital in Tonzang on Thursday, according to sources in the township’s public health sector.

In Cikha, which is close to the Indian border, there were 11 COVID-19-positive cases reported on Thursday; seven of these patients are in serious condition.

The hospital source said the 11 patients had no history of travel outside of their town or across the border.

Tonzang and Tamu are adjacent townships and are both on the Indian border.

On Friday, the junta’s Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) reported 72 new cases of COVID-19 after testing 1,230 people across the country. It didn’t reveal the number of cases in Tonzang and Tamu. Health authorities in Tamu were not available for immediate comment on Saturday.

On Friday, some domestic flights in the country were suspended until next month as a measure to curb the spread of infections.

Friday’s stay-at-home orders are the first since the military seized power by overthrowing the country’s democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

The number of daily swab tests being administered has declined dramatically since the coup, with thousands of healthcare workers refusing to work for the military regime.

Under the ousted civilian government, around 16,000 to 18,000 swab tests a day were carried out in January. But since the coup, only around 1,500 to 2,000 tests per day have been administered.

Myanmar reported a total of 143,486 COVID-19 cases as of Friday, from a total of 2,617,696 tests. The death toll stands at 3,216, according to the MOHS. Myanmar reported between 11 and 35 positive cases daily from Feb. 8 to May 26.

Myanmar’s COVID-19 vaccine program—initiated by the NLD government on Jan. 27, with healthcare staff and volunteers first in line to receive vaccine shots—has struggled under the military regime, with millions of civilians refusing the jab and thousands of health workers choosing to go on strike and join the civil disobedience movement rather than work for the junta.

Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said early this month that more than 1.9 million people in Myanmar had been inoculated.

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