Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Sees Largest COVID-19 Spike as Migrants Deported from Thailand Test Positive

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 19 June 2020

YANGON—Twenty-three out of 35 Myanmar migrants who were deported from Thailand tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday in the country’s highest daily increase in coronavirus cases so far.

The 35 Myanmar migrants were held at the immigration detention center in the city of Songkhla in southern Thailand before being deported via the Myawaddy-Mae Sot border gate on June 8.

The migrants were detained under Thailand’s immigration acts for lacking proper documents. Four of them were arrested for entering Thailand illegally from Malaysia.

On Friday, the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports announced that 23 of the returnees, including the four who had travelled to Malaysia, tested positive for COVID-19 while under quarantine in Hpa An Township, Karen State.

U Saw Bo Bo Wai Maung, the Karen State social affair minister, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the 35 returnees were isolated in a separate quarantine center in Hpa An as Songkhla is a COVID-19 hotspot in Thailand. Everyone in the team that received the returnees wore personal protective equipment.

“We have already made a separate plan for receiving those returnees who are at a high risk of being infected with the virus,” Thailand-based Myanmar labor attaché U Wai Lin Maung told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

U Saw Bo Bo Wai Maung also said that about 20 people who were involved in receiving the deported migrants are now under quarantine and they will be tested for COVID-19.

He also said that of the 23 patients, 18 were sent to Yangon’s Waibargi Infectious Disease Hospital, four were sent to Mawlamyine Hospital in Mon State and one was sent to Hpa An Hospital.

The other 12 deported Myanmar migrants, who tested negative for COVID-19, are still under quarantine and will be tested for COVID-19 again, said U Saw Bo Bo Wai Maung.

“We can’t contain the spread of the virus without the cooperation of those returnees. Generally, they all are good at cooperating with us, so we have managed to contain the spread of the virus until now,” said U Saw Bo Bo Wai Maung.

Around 2,000 returnees from Thailand have been quarantined at about 350 quarantine centers across Karen State.

As of Sunday, 27,505 migrants have returned to Myanmar through land borders from Thailand and thousands more have returned from China since May 23. Myanmar has also brought 3,762 Myanmar nationals stranded abroad by COVID-19 lockdowns home on repatriation flights since April 30.

The Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports said that they have been conducting COVID-19 tests for all returnees.

As of Friday morning, Myanmar has reported 286 COVID-19 cases including six deaths and 187 recoveries. Of the 286 COVID-19 cases, 124 cases were imported from other countries.

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