Myanmar Extends Ban on Gatherings, Int’l Flights, Other COVID-19 Measures
By San Yamin Aung 15 May 2020
YANGON—Myanmar’s government has extended restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 including a ban on public gatherings and the suspension of visas and international flights until May 31.
Myanmar has a total of 181 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including six deaths and 84 patients who have recovered. Since the last week of April, the country has seen several days with no new reported cases, yet as new infections were still occasionally found in COVID-19 hot spots, health officials have warned the public that the situation is not yet totally under control.
The National-Level Central Committee for COVID-19 Prevention, Control and Treatment, chaired by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, announced on Thursday that COVID-19-related orders issued by Union-level organizations and Union ministries will be further extended. The directives were first set to expire on April 30 and were extended once already, to Friday.
Since the country’s first cases of the disease were confirmed in late March, Myanmar has suspended international commercial passenger flights and all types of visas except for diplomats accredited to Myanmar and United Nations officials based in the country who can prove they are infected with the coronavirus.
Relief, cargo, medical evacuation and special flights approved by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), however, are not affected. Flight crews may still be subject to quarantine.
The extended restrictions also cover the ban on public gatherings including public events, ceremonies and festivals and the closure of nursery schools, boarding schools and cinemas across the country, in order to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus in crowded places.
Meanwhile, “stay at home” restrictions in four townships in Yangon Region and one township in Sagaing Region will be lifted starting Friday evening, the Ministry of Health and Sports announced, as there have been no new cases of local transmission in the townships in the last 21 days. Those townships are Mingaladon, Hlaing Tharyar, Shwepyithar and Botahtaung in Yangon and Kale in Sagaing.
Streets in those townships will be opened and restaurants and tea shops will be allowed to open for eat-in dining. Since late March, eateries have been allowed to provide only takeaway service.
However, six townships in Yangon—the country’s COVID-19 hotspots—will remain under semi-lockdown.
“We can’t say yet that the spread of COVID-19 has been brought fully under control and thus I would like to urge the public not to let their guard down and to strictly follow the preventive guidelines,” State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in a public message released on Thursday.
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