Myanmar & COVID-19

Most of Yangon Under Partial Lockdown as Myanmar’s COVID-19 Death Toll Rises to 14

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 10 September 2020

YANGON—More than half of Myanmar’s commercial hub, Yangon, is now under stay-at-home orders after the government on Wednesday imposed a partial lockdown on 21 more townships in the region, which has become the epicenter of the country’s COVID-19 epidemic.

As of Thursday morning, Yangon had 756 cases, overtaking the previous COVID-19 hotbed, Rakhine State, which has reported 652.

Myanmar has been in the grip of a resurgence of COVID-19 since Aug. 16. In the 26 days since then, 1,635 new cases have been reported. The country’s total number of cases reached 2,009 on Thursday morning after nearly 200 new infections were detected on Wednesday alone, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS).

On Wednesday, the MOHS added 21 more townships to the list of seven under partial lockdown in Yangon. Residents of the 28 townships must stay at home unless traveling to work or engaged in emergency activities related to curbing the spread of the virus. Yangon Region consists of 44 townships. The newly restricted areas include some townships in Yangon’s downtown Central Business District as well as some on the outskirts. It is the second time Yangon has faced a partial lockdown. In early April, the government imposed stay-at-home restrictions throughout the whole country during the 10-day long water festival.

The Myanmar government has warned that people who fail to comply with COVID-19 prevention orders will be prosecuted under the Natural Disaster Management Law, rather than the Communicable Disease Law, as the former carries harsher penalties.

The Communicable Disease Law carries a fine of just 5,000 kyats (US$3.80), while the Natural Disaster Management Law threatens prison terms of up to one year.

Rising death toll

Myanmar reported its first COVID-19 patient in late March, and had only six COVID-19-related deaths as of Sept. 4.

In less than a week since then, however, the country has reported eight more deaths, bringing the death toll to 14 as of Thursday morning.

According to the MOHS, a 55-year-old woman patient who suffered from diabetes and hypertension died at Yangon’s Phaunggyi Hospital on Wednesday night due to respiratory system damage caused by COVID-19.

At the same hospital on Thursday morning, a 45-year-old male COVID-19 patient who also suffered from diabetes as an underlying disease died due to respiratory system damage and an enlarged heart.

Among ASEAN countries, Myanmar ranks sixth in terms of COVID-19 cases after the Philippines with more than 240,000, Indonesia with more than 200,000, Singapore with nearly 60,000, Malaysia with more than 9,500 and Thailand with more than 3,400.

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