Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar COVID-19 Cases Reach 111, Most Traced to Pastor-led Gatherings

By Nan Lwin 20 April 2020

YANGON—The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Myanmar surged to 111 late Sunday, with more than half of the cases traced to religious gatherings hosted by two Christian pastors in Yangon.

The Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) confirmed 17 new cases in the past 24 hours, among them are nine people linked to the religious gatherings in Yangon.

Of the 111 total cases, 54 cases are related to religious gatherings, according to the latest MOHS situation report and Yangon regional lawmakers.

Last week, Myanmar police filed cases against two Christian pastors and two of their followers for breaching the government’s COVID-19 control directives after they held religious gatherings and some of their followers, including one of the country’s most famous rock stars, tested positive for the disease.

MOHS found that a total of 274 people related to the religious group had come into close contact with one another.

According MOHS, a 78-year-old man who died of COVID-19 on Saturday morning had close contact with a member of the religious group who previously tested positive for the disease.

Among the new confirmed cases is a one-and-a-half-year-old kid from Yangon’s Pabedan Township who had close contact with a patient who previously tested positive for the coronavirus.

A 60-year-old man and 54-year-old woman in Yangon’s North Dagon Township who cooked for a religious gathering tested positive on Sunday. Other confirmed cases in Yangon that were traced to the religious gatherings include a 42-year-old man from South Okkalapa Township, a 38-year-old man from Dawbon, a 43-year-old woman in Mingaladon, a 63-year-old man from Botahtaung and three women, ages 20, 44 and 85, from Mayangone.

“We have already placed all the people who had contact with the religious group in designated quarantine centers,” U Yan Shin, a lawmaker from Mayangone, told The Irrawaddy on Monday. “We are strictly controlling these people’s movement since our township is included in a conditional stay-at-home order.”

MOHS announced a conditional stay-at-home order on Saturday covering seven Yangon townships where cases have been reported: Insein, Shwephyithar, Mayangone, Bahan, Pabedan, South Okkala and Hlaingtharyar.

Yangon has most of the country’s coronavirus cases, with a total of 90 COVID-19 patients including 4 deaths.

The Yangon regional government has ordered a nighttime curfew that took effect on Saturday. Residents of the region’s 44 townships, except the Coco Islands, are prohibited from going outdoors between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. On Thursday, MOHS ordered a conditional nationwide ban on gatherings of more than five people to control the spread of the disease. The order excludes factory workers, company staff and government employees.

According to the MOHS, seven people are recovering from COVID-19 as each of them has tested negative for the disease twice in follow-up lab tests. Among them are two patients from Mandalay and Naypyitaw who are already discharged from the hospital.

MOHS said Myanmar has tested a total of 4,786 people who are suspected of COVID-19 as of Sunday.

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