Myanmar & COVID-19

UWSA to Enforce Lockdown in Wa Capital for COVID-19 Testing

By Nan Lwin 5 January 2021

YANGON — The United Wa State Army (UWSA), Myanmar’s largest ethnic armed group, plans to impose a lockdown in its capital city, Panghsang, in Shan State at midnight on Wednesday to carry out citywide testing for COVID-19.

On Sunday, the Wa self-administered region in Shan State reported 84 coronavirus cases. The Wa administration operates independently with no interference from Myanmar’s authorities, covering six townships split between two districts in Shan State. The region has more than 550,000 inhabitants.

The Wa statement on Monday said residents will need to stay at home, except for government officials, or face serious action.

All residents, including guests, must be tested for COVID-19 for free, it said.

UWSA liaison officer U Nyi Rang told The Irrawaddy that the decision on citywide testing came as COVID-19 cases were increasing each day.

The volunteers and military officers in Panghsang load the truck with the COVID-19 related supplies donated by the Myanmar military on December 31, 2020./WSTV/Facebook

He said it is unknown when the lockdown will be eased, depending on the test results.

Panghsang has around 20,000 to 25,000 inhabitants.

No COVID-19 infections were officially reported in Wa the region until November. Two Chinese nationals tested positive on Dec. 14 and 15.

The UWSA closed its borders with Myanmar-government territory in March but the border with China was open until late December. Following the cases, UWSA launched COVID-19 testing mainly in Panghsang and Mong Pawk, an entertainment city with casinos, karaoke parlors and hotels established in 2017 with Chinese investors.

On Sunday, the Wa authorities said they had tested 79,308 residents.

In early December, UWSA set up a COVID-19 lab in Panghsang with the help of China’s Red Cross Department in Pu’er City, Yunnan Province. It has provided the UWSA with rapid testing equipment using “reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction” technology.

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