Every day of the past week has brought a rising tide of bad news amid rising COVID-19 cases in Yangon as the virus marches through the city – second wave!
Attributed to those returned from Rakhine State, where a fresh outbreak was detected last month, the outbreak in Yangon prompted stay-at-home orders hitting seven of its townships effective 8am this morning.
Yangon accounted for 25 of the 51 new cases reported by health officials, which brought the national total to 938 since the outbreak began. The affected townships are Thingangyun, Insein, North Okkalapa, Tharkerta, Hlaing, Pazundaung and Mingaladon, according to the order from the Ministry of Health and Sports.
The new cluster began Aug. 16 with patient No. 375 in Sittwe, Rakhine State, and officials fear there are likely hundreds of cases yet to be detected. Rakhine is now on lockdown with a 9pm-4am curfew implemented along with travel restrictions. Those coming to Yangon are expected to quarantine for 21 days and be tested twice.
Infections have more than doubled since the new cluster emerged: Today’s total of 938 cases was only 409 just over two weeks ago.
High schools that had opened July 21 have since been shut down without prior notice.
Although the stay-at-home order has come through, those whose jobs are deemed essential may still go to work with precautions including wearing masks and traveling in authorized vehicles between wards. Only one individual per household is allowed to go out for grocery shopping at a time and, if sick, two people can go to a hospital or clinic.
The ministry also repeated that those violating the orders will be charged under the Disease Control Law. It also told BBC Burmese that 2,547 of 54,09 people who returned to Yangon by air didn’t respond to its calls to dodge quarantine and monitoring.
Only 2,212 returnees have answered the phone and, of those, 1,302 have continued reporting to the ministry. The ministry has threatened to publish the names of those not responding in state-owned media.
Health officials also cited one new patient in Yangon with no recent travel history or contact with any known patient, suggesting the virus is on the loose in the city. According to the ministry’s Khin Khin Gyi, the virus has also mutated into a variety that spreads 10 times as quickly yet may be less harmful. She also said the business centers of Yangon, Myawaddy and Rakhine State should be considered “risky areas.”
For a very different take on the escalating crisis, hear one very excited foreigner tell Myanmar’s “Increcible” Covid-19 Story in a video circulating on social media.