Border securty tightened as Myanmar virus cases surge


A significant surge in Covid-19 infections in neighbouring Myanmar has prompted authorities in the northern border province of Tak to tighten border security. More than 200 new cases have been confirmed since early last week, compelling Myanmar to shutter schools nationwide. Authorities say all border passes in the Mae Sot district and roads to the central city districts will be strictly screened. Mae Sot is the main gateway to Yangon, with the Moei River separating the 2 countries. The long border in Tak makes it easy for Burmese people to cross the river and illegally enter Thailand seeking jobs.

The new outbreak comes after a month with no local transmission in Myanmar. Most of the recent infections have been outside Yangon, the nation’s biggest city, and authorities believe they are more contagious than those seen previously. Myanmar closed schools nationwide yesterday, as the number of cases rose, a decision widely welcomed by parents worried about a rapid spread.

“The students have many years ahead for studying. Taking precautions against the virus is much more important for all of us.”

A government official said health measures must be followed to stave off the threat after 70 new infections were reported on Tuesday, Myanmar’s biggest-ever daily rise.

“Now we have to again take more individual precautions.”

With just 6 deaths and 586 infections since late March, the impact of the coronavirus has been pretty light in Myanmar, compared with Indonesia and the Philippines, which are still reporting daily cases in the thousands.

The epicentre of the new outbreak is Rakhine State, about 500 kilometres from Yangon, with most cases tracked to the state capital of Sittwe, where a lockdown and curfew have been enacted. Sittwe is also home to crowded camps where around 100,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have been confined since violence erupted in 2012, with limited access to healthcare. 1 new case in Yangon yesterday was linked to Sittwe.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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