1 COVID case shutters Ngapali beach resort – two weeks after it reopened

Photo: Amazing Ngapali Resort / Facebook
Photo: Amazing Ngapali Resort / Facebook

A resort on one of Myanmar’s most coveted beaches has been forced to close just two weeks after reopening due to a single coronavirus case.

While hotels and resorts have reopened and air service restored to the popular Ngapali Beach in Rakhine state, it was bad news for owners of the Amazing Ngapali Resort, who were forced to shutter their business again after a guest tested positive for COVID-19 just 12 days after it reopened.

“Because of the positive test result, we at Amazing Ngapali Resort [were notified to] close again,” it announced Saturday, the same day it closed on order of the health ministry. The hotel, which had been closed for nine months, urged guests who stayed there last week to isolate themselves.

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Its closure came three days after the arrival of a couple who had tested negative in Yangon before boarding a Myanmar National Airlines charter flight. Before boarding their return flight Friday, the 61-year-old man tested positive.

Now the couple has been placed isolated at the Ngapali Facility Quarantine Center along with  with all hotel staff, according to the Amazing Ngapali Resort.

Photo: Amazing Ngapali Resort / Facebook
Photo: Amazing Ngapali Resort / Facebook

The hotel, one of Ngapali’s largest, said all bookings would be rescheduled or refunded. It just reopened Dec. 26 after being closed for nine months.

Some people felt shutting down the sprawling resort and putting its many employees out of work was an overreaction. “It doesn’t make sense to shut down the hotel if a guest tested positive,” Facebooker Khaung Khaung wrote in reply to the hotel’s announcement.

Others said the man’s infected state upon arrival showed the failure of the testing system.

“Officials need to take it seriously when it comes to testing,” a Simon Min wrote.

The resort is one of 1,984 hotels that have been forced to close since the pandemic arrived in Myanmar, costing an estimated MMK4 billion (US$3 million) in losses, according to the Hotels and Tourism Ministry.

According to local health authorities, the couple visited Thandwe village and attractions near the hotel.

Other hotels and resorts on Ngapali beach remain open and Myanmar National Airlines is operating weekly flights.

Myanmar’s most serious outbreak began in August in the west, with Rakhine state quickly placed on lockdown.

As of today, health officials have reported 131,186 infections and 2,858 deaths. The majority of cases has been in Yangon.

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