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



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 Thaiger


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 Thaiger


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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