Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar’s States Issue Heavy Restrictions on Movement Ahead of Thingyan to Curb COVID-19

By Nan Lwin 6 April 2020

YANGON—With the Thingyan water festival, which marks Myanmar’s traditional New Year holiday period, set to begin next week, state and regional governments have imposed further restrictions on residents’ movements, including ordering people to stay home, shutting down public transportation networks and banning festive activities in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday urged citizens to stay at home as much as possible during the upcoming weeks as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi posted on Facebook, “Today is the 14th day [since] we found the first coronavirus-infected person in Myanmar. Within two to three weeks, it will become apparent how fast the [virus will spread].”

“At this time, it is very important for all the people to follow the rules and instructions, to deter the spread of this disease,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.

The Myanmar government believes April might be the month that will decide the magnitude of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. As of Sunday afternoon, Myanmar had reported a total of 21 COVID-19 cases, including one death.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, “Some will imagine how many persons make a ‘crowd’.”

“The fewer, the better; the farther, the better. You should remember that one more infected person means one more danger. There is no such thing as being over-vigilant and over-cautious,” she said.

The government is attempting to persuade citizens that staying at home in April is the key to defeating COVID-19 in Myanmar.

Yangon Region government

All Yangon residents have been told to observe a strict 10-day “stay home” period from April 10 to April 19, 2020, except those involved in COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment activities.
Officials of the 45 townships in the region are instructed to tell their constituents not to go outside during the stay home period, except when buying food and medicines.
Residents are prohibited from celebrating the Water Festival (Myanmar New Year Festival) and related activities.
Residents have been told to avoid entertaining guests at home as much as possible.
Residents must report to the relevant authorities if they have returned from a foreign country recently.
Residents must report any suspected COVID-19 patients in their area or if they suspect they themselves may be carrying the disease.

Mandalay Region government

Mandalay residents are urged to practice “social distancing” and to stay at home.
Buses and other public transportation vehicles carrying more than seven people are temporarily banned from using the region’s highways. The order will be effective from 12 a.m. on April 7 until 12 a.m. on April 22.
Trucks transporting goods will be allowed on the highways to ensure that essential supplies are delivered and trade is not disrupted.
All hotels, motels, guesthouses, inns, construction firms and clothing shops are ordered to close from 12 a.m. on April 8 until 12 a.m. on April 22. The government will take action against those who violate the order.
All essential businesses such as food shops, food production businesses, pharmacies, drug makers, private hospitals, fuel stations, electricity suppliers, banks and others must remain open.

Sagaing Region government

The Sagaing government has imposed the following restrictions from April 7, 2020 to April 21, 2020.

Residents of Sagaing Region are urged not to travel except for funerals and health reasons.
Residents must stay at home as much as possible.
Resident must wear masks if they go outside.
If residents must travel, they are required to obtain a letter of recommendation from their township’s COVID-19 Disease Protection, Control and Treatment Committee.
All essential businesses and facilities must remain open, including food shops, food production businesses, pharmacies, drug makers, private hospitals, petrol stations, electricity suppliers and banks.
All hotels, motels, guesthouses, inns, playgrounds, amusement parks and public parks have been ordered to temporarily close.
The government will take action against anyone who does not follow COVID-19 related instructions.

Shan State government

The Shan State government has ordered the temporary suspension of all public transportation services from April 7 to April 21.
Residents of Shan State are requested not to travel except for funerals and health reasons.
If residents have to travel they must obtain a letter of recommendation from their township’s COVID-19 Protection, Control and Treatment Committee.
Food shops, food production businesses, pharmacies, drug makers, private hospitals, fuels stations, electricity suppliers, banks and others essential businesses must remain open.
The state government has also ordered all hotels, guesthouses, playgrounds, amusement parks and public parks to shut down temporarily. Residents are prohibited from visiting public places.
Authorities will take action against people who do not follow COVID-19-related instructions.
Residents of Shan State are requested to stay at home. If they have to go outside, they must wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Kayah State government

The Kayah State government has ordered all food production business, pharmacies, drug makers, private hospitals, fuels stations, electricity suppliers, banks and other essential businesses to stay open.
The state government has ordered all hotels, motels, guesthouses, inns, construction firm and clothing shops to close from 12 a.m. on April 8 to 12 a.m. on April 23.
The regional government is prohibiting travel on highways for buses and other transportation vehicles with more than seven people.

Kachin State government

The Kachin State government imposed the following rules and regulation on March 20, 2020.

Public gatherings and activities are banned throughout the region.
Cinemas and promotional events have been temporarily shut and canceled.
Residents are prohibited from celebrating or participating in the water festival, and all other religious celebrations/activities and related events. Residents who must participate in a religious celebrations/activity must follow the COVID-19-related instructions from the health authorities.
All private schools have been closed temporarily.
Spreading fake news among the public is strictly prohibited.
Residents of Kachin State must report any suspected COVID-19 patients in their area.
Residents must follow all COVID-19 prevention instructions from health authorities.

Mon State government

The Mon State government imposed the following rules and regulations on March 28, 2020 as the state is home to the large majority of migrant workers who have recently returned from Thailand.

Anyone in Mon State who has recently returned from a foreign country must report to the authorities.
Returnees must undergo a health check.
Anyone who shows COVID-19 symptoms must be quarantined in a designated facility.
All returnees from foreign countries must be quarantined for 14 days at designated facilities.
Residents must follow all COVID-19-prevention instructions from health authorities.
Residents must report any suspected COVID-19 patients in their area.
Residents are prohibited from spreading fake news that could cause panic among the public.
State authorities will take legal action against people who do not follow COVID-19-related instructions.

As a precautionary measure against COVID-19, the Myanmar government has also banned all mass gatherings, festivals and other entertainment events during the Water Festival.

On Saturday, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi offered encouragement to citizens, saying, “Don’t be disheartened because during this Thingyan you cannot go out and throw water; neither will there be loud music and merriment in the wards.”

“They say that ‘health is the greatest of blessings’,” she said.

“We can all make this great donation with good will whereby we can all give the greatest of health blessings not only to ourselves but to others as well,” she added.

“By controlling ourselves we can develop the power of concentration. In this very special Thingyan we can perform very special kusalas [good deeds]. We can do this at home without moving and [by] staying still,” she stressed.

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