Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Ministry Places Staff Under Home Quarantine After Two Test Positive for COVID-19

By Thiha Lwin 11 September 2020

NAYPYITAW—Most staff members of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture have been ordered to remain under home quarantine in Naypyitaw after two employees of the ministry’s culture section tested positive for COVID-19.

The ministry decided to put all staff members of the culture section below the rank of deputy director under home quarantine after the two tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, the director of the Arts Department, U Hla Khaing, told The Irrawaddy.

“We have ordered all staff to stay at home. With the exception of directors and deputy directors, who are needed to run the office, we have instructed all staff to stay in their homes,” U Hla Khaing said.

Thirty-four other staff who came in contact with the two infected people have been put in quarantine at the 1,000-bed Naypyitaw Hospital, with staff housing being placed under lockdown as of Thursday.

“As there are people who have come into contact with the infected persons, the ministry has to send them to hospitals, and their family members have to stay in their homes,” said Dr. Myat Wunna Soe, the deputy director-general of the Naypyitaw Public Health Department.

The Irrawaddy saw barricades being put up on the roads leading to the staff housing of the Culture Department.

“At first, we heard that 50 percent of the staff members would have to work and the rest stay at home [alternately]. We were told not to go to the office. Now, we have [all] been told not to go to the office. So, we stay at home,” said a woman who lives in the staff housing under lockdown.

As of Friday morning, there were 22 COVID-19-positive patients in Naypyitaw. Four of them are civil servants: an assistant director at the President’s Office, a staff member from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, and the two from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture.

As Naypyitaw is a Union Territory, authorities have restricted travel into the area. Moreover, ministries are practicing a shift-based system to make it easier to practice distancing, and restrictions have been placed on staff receiving guests at their offices and recreational travel.

The Naypyitaw Union Territory is made up of eight townships in two districts. So far, none of the townships has been put under lockdown.

As of Friday morning, Myanmar had reported 2,265 COVID-19 cases with 625 recoveries and 14 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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