Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar’s COVID-19 Cases Exceed 1,000

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 3 September 2020

Yangon – Myanmar’s COVID-19 cases have hit 1,000 after 63 new cases were reported on Thursday morning, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Myanmar has reported 1,058 COVID-19 cases, including six deaths and 359 recoveries until Thursday morning.

The authorities initially appeared to have the virus under control, reporting 374 cases in almost five months after March 23, when the country’s first case was reported.

Numbers have risen sharply since Aug. 16, when the first domestic transmission in a month was detected with a 26-year-old female bank employee in the Rakhine State capital, Sittwe.

The previous domestic transmission was reported on July 16, also in Rakhine State.

On Aug. 26, the health ministry imposed a partial lockdown on Rakhine State, restricting the movement of more than 3 million inhabitants to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Since Aug. 16, Rakhine has reported 450 COVID-19 transmissions and one imported case.

There were also COVID-19 transmissions reported in Bago, Mandalay, Tanintharyi and Yangon regions and Mon, Kachin and Shan states.

Yangon is the second hardest-hit city with 150 cases reported since August 19.

The city is facing shortages at quarantine centers and with its medical staff and volunteers as the authorities struggle to trace those with the virus.

Yangon is also where most returnees from other countries are being held in quarantine.

The health ministry said on Monday that Yangon provided accommodation to nearly 5,000 people at 75 quarantine centers by Aug. 29.

Due to the COVID-19 spike in Yangon, seven townships were placed under partial lockdown on Sep. 1 with residents told not to leave their homes without a proper reason.

U Win Myo Thu, the chairman of the Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (Alarm) group, said on Thursday that many city residents could not follow the COVID-19 guidelines while others were ignoring the rules.

“The lockdowns whenever the authorities find a COVID-19 case are an overreaction. It harms the economy and the efforts to recover,” U Win Myo Thu said.

He said Myanmar needs to consider living with COVID-19 as people can no longer cope with the economic impact.

U Win Myo Thu said factories and business should be allowed to operate while any staff suffering from COVID-19 receive treatment, rather than shutting down entire operations.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in her video conference on Wednesday that Yangon must follow the COVID-19 instructions from the health ministry.

“Yangon has the largest population. People in the city are becoming bolder during these three to four weeks. Bold also means careless. The cases in Yangon are because people are not following the COVID-19 restrictions” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.

She also warned that anyone failing to follow COVID-19 instructions could face a year in prison as the authorities deal with the “national disaster”.

Bars, karaoke lounges and nightclubs in Yangon have been closed since Aug. 15. The State Counselor warned on Wednesday that nightclub operators in Yangon will face prosecution if they violate restrictions.

After the warnings of harsher punishments by the State Counselor, Yangon’s police said on Thursday that 647 people had been prosecuted for breaching the curfew last night. They said 111 vehicles and 18 motorbikes were targeted.

In Yangon, people are ordered not to go outside between midnight and 4am.

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