YANGON—Myanmar confirmed 12 new cases of COVID-19 over a 12-hour period late Thursday and Friday morning, marking the largest daily increase in cases since the disease was first detected in the country in late March.
On Friday morning, the total of number of COVID-19 cases in the country surged to 139, including five previous deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS). Yangon, the commercial hub of the country, has been hit the hardest by the pandemic with 113 cases, including four deaths.
Among the new confirmed cases are 11 patients from Yangon who had close contact with patients who previously tested positive for the coronavirus.
An 80-year-old man from Mandalay Region was also found to have the disease despite not having had contact with previously confirmed cases nor having traveled outside Myanmar during the past 14 days.
Among the latest confirmed cases, three are related to a religious gathering in Yangon from which a total of 71 people are now infected, according to the MOHS situation report on Thursday and Yangon regional lawmakers.
Seven of the patients from Yangon had close contact with three patients who contracted the disease while working in the same work place. The seven people include a 45-year-old man in Pabedan Township, a 35-year-old man in Tamwe Township, a 35-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man in Kyauktada Township, a 31-year-old woman and a 26-year-old woman in Hlaing Township and a 53-year old man in Dagon Township.
On Thursday, the Yangon regional government announced it would extend an existing nighttime curfew until June 18 in all 45 townships as the city has most of the country’s coronavirus cases. Last week on Saturday, the Yangon government imposed a 10p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew on the city, however it previously did not include an end date.
MOHS also announced a conditional stay-at-home order covering seven Yangon townships where cases have been reported: Insein, Shwepyithar, Mayangone, Bahan, Pabedan, South Okkalapa and Hlaing Tharyar.
On Thursday, Myanmar’s State Counselor said on her Facebook account that directives announced by the National-Level Central Committee for COVID-19 Prevention, Control and Treatment are going to last from April 30 to May 15 but she did not mention specifically to which directives she was referring. Since early March, the government has banned public gatherings including the Thingyan Water Festival. The ban was set to expire at the end of April.
According to Daw Khin Khin Gyi, director of Contagious Disease Prevention and Eradication at the MOHS, coronavirus tests can now be analyzed at both the National Heath Laboratory (NHL) and the Department of Medical Research (DMR) in Yangon.
Before Wednesday, only the NHL had the capacity to process COVID-19 test samples. MOHS said that on Thursday, the NHL and DMR tested a total of 329 samples of possible COVID-19 patients.
The Mandalay regional COVID-19 response committee is also planning to open a new lab in the city to increase testing capacity. Currently, swabs from the across the country are sent to Yangon by car.
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