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Doing Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago in style

The Thaiger

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Burma Boating is set to launch monthly cruises around the Mergui Archipelago in southern Myanmar, combining two of the most sought-after activities in these pristine waters – yachting and scuba diving.

The SY Dallinghoo, a 30 meter classic gaff-rigged schooner crafted by renowned US yacht designer Dudley Dix, will cast off from the port of Kawthaung in southern Myanmar once a month from November 2019 through April 2020 and traverse the Mergui Archipelago on an 8 day, 7 night sailing trip which can accommodate up to eight qualified divers.

Michael Cole, the head of Burma Boating, says that with this new Sail & Dive adventure, they wanted to offer something extraordinary.

“There are few, if any, undiscovered nirvanas like the Mergui Archipelago left on this planet. These cruises will provide comfort, exquisite dining, and stops at no less than five fantastic dive sites, all of which feature a kaleidoscope of coral and magnificent marine life.”

Doing Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago in style | News by The Thaiger

The Mergui Archipelago is located in the Andaman Sea off the coast of southern Myanmar, and is home to the ethnic Moken community of fisherman, also known as “sea gypsies.”

For decades, the 800 islands, lagoons, atolls and coral reefs of the archipelago were off-limits to visitors. The islands are now accessible to limited sustainable tourism, though just five hotels have opened to date.

One of the early investors was Myanmar tourism trailblazers Memories Group, which operates a plethora of resorts and experiences around the country, including the iconic Balloons Over Bagan. Memories acquired Burma Boating in 2018, and has since built a sister resort, Awei Pila, on one of the islands in the archipelago. Awei Pila began accepting guests last December, and earlier this year opened the first scuba diving center in the region, along with PADI certification classes for beginners.

In addition to the Sail & Dive cruises, Burma Boating offers weekly sailing and yachting trips around the archipelago – either 3N4D or 5N6D – starting October 19, 2019, through to mid-May, 2020, when monsoon season begins.

For reservations and information, go to:www.burmaboating.com or contact info@burmaboating.com

Doing Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago in style | News by The Thaiger

Doing Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago in style | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar

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Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control remains on alert, and patrols increased along the Thai/Myanmar border, as Thailand’s western neighbour continues to register a spike in new Covid 19 cases – between 430 and 670 people each day, over the past 4 days. The DDC director-general Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai told Bangkok Post that Thai “business operators should stop hiring foreign workers, especially Myanmar people, to help prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Thailand.”

Myanmar’s number of confirmed cases has now reached 7,177 with 129 Burmese succumbing to the virus at this stage. Yesterday the four national papers suspended circulation, waiting out the sudden surge of cases.

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar | News by The Thaiger

Further west, in Bangladesh, the country is registering 1,600 – 1,800 new cases per day, but falling, and India, which is still registering 75,000 – 97,000 cases per day (over the past week), is likely to surpass the US total in the next few months if the present case trends continue.

The fluid borders in the region continue to worry Thai officials who are scrambling to better secure the long border between Thailand and Myanmar, which runs from Chiang Rai in the north to Ranong in the south. Even Malaysia, to the south of Thailand, has had a recent spike of new cases, some of the outbreaks in the northern Malay state of Kedah which shares Thailand’s southernmost border.

Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, is now in a deep lockdown, including directing people to stay home, except for emergencies or to buy food, most schools around the city are now closed and residents are not allowed to visit neighbour’s homes and 2 people outside is considered a ‘gathering’.

Meanwhile the border checkpoints have become busy where Burmese are trying to cross into Thailand as fears sweep their country about the rise of the cases. The DDC chief says that “tough legal action will be implemented against those found to be involved in human smuggling gangs”.

Yesterday a Burmese teenager, living near the Thai-Myanmar border tested positive for Covid-19. The 17 year old boy tested positive for Covid-19 last week in Myanmar’s Payatongsu district, about 5 kilometres from the Three Pagodas Pass checkpoint bordering Kanchanaburi. The Pass, and the border zones around it, are a fluid mix of Thai and Burmese locals doing day-to-day trade. The teen started having symptoms on September 11 and tested positive a week later.

In another case, a 2 year old Burmese child tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand. A report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department says the child most likely contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar around September 4 to September 10. The family travelled to Mae Sot and entered Myanmar through natural passageways. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the leaky jungle border to deter people from crossing the 2,000 kilometre-long border illegally. Security has increased and dozens of migrants have been arrested in the past month for trying to cross into Thailand illegally. Even volunteers have stepped up to patrol the borders. No migrants arrested for allegedly crossing the border have tested positive for the virus at this stage.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Reuters | Chiang Rai Times

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Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border

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Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | The Thaiger

Myanmar is currently suffering a wave of Covid-19, causing concern in Thailand as its western border authorities bump up security measures and patrols. Burmese authorities have been introducing increasingly draconian restrictions to control the sudden spread of the virus over the past 4 weeks. Whilst the case load is still relatively small, the concerns are focussing on the porous western borders of Myanmar onto adjacent Bangladesh and India, as well as the spike in cases in the largest city Yangon. The current rise in cases originally broke out in the western Rakhine state and the city of Sittwe about a month ago.

Yangon is now under lockdown as the city is quickly turning into the country’s hotspot of Covid-19.

Myanmar's Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Google

Yangon’s lockdown rules have paralysed the city. Almost all its businesses are closed, with the exception of essential services, and people must have a permit from their district administration to attend work.

All domestic travel – buses, taxis, trains, planes – is now shut down and the country’s schools are closed. Even driving a car around Yangon at the moment requires a permit from the city administration. When it comes to food, only one person is allowed to leave the home at a time and exercising outside is not allowed. Even if there’s a medical emergency only 2 people may leave the home but must have permission from their district administrators. Residents are not allowed to visit neighbour’s homes and 2 people outside is considered a ‘gathering’.

Of course everyone must wear a face mask whilst outside and in public places.

Curfews remain in place in most areas and checkpoints have now been set up around the region. Even the public service has been told to remain at home and work remotely until further notice. Some parts of Yangon are now under even harsher lockdowns with a ‘Chinese style’ lockdown where people are not permitted to leave their home for any reason at all the aid workers patrol the area handing out supplies and food. (When the city of Wuhan and the state of Hubei were locked down in the earliest phases of the Covid-19 virus, the lockdowns were similarly draconian, and ultimately effective)

There were 610 and 6 new deaths in the past 24 hours. Yesterday 671 new cases of Covid-10 were reported, the biggest spike, by far, since the outbreak began. The cumulative total number of infections is now 5,541 while the death toll remains at 92 people.

Myanmar's Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Worldometer.info

Across the border, in Thailand, officials have increased checkpoints and border patrols along the long and leaky jungle border region. Thais living along the border are being asked to report strangers and minimise their movement around the border zones, traditionally busy local hubs for trade. Thai officials fear there will be a migration of Burmese trying to flee the country as the crackdown on movement causes panic in the country.

In a predictable explanation about a recent case of a 2 year old Burmese child who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, Thai health authorities now say the child “may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar”.

The health department says they speculate that the child “was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town”. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya, Central Thailand, and quit their jobs last month. The department says the infant probably contracted the virus around September 4 – 10 while the family was travelling. The family crossed unofficial passageways, not passing through a checkpoint, into Myanmar. News website Xinhua claims it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

SOURCES: Pattaya News | Xinhua | Reuters

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger
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The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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