Happy New Fear: Yangon told to stay home 9 days over holiday

Photo: Coconuts
Photo: Coconuts

Yangon residents were told not to leave their homes except for food or necessary health care to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections during the holidays.

While a regional health committee on Friday said the order for people to stay home would be enforced until April 19, Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein said the city would not be close its borders.

“We will not stop inbound and outbound traffic,” he told Eleven Media Group. “If we stay with caution during this 10-day period of Thingyan, we could bring the situation under control.”

The measures are meant stem the rising number of people infected with COVID-19. As of today, the country has counted at least 22 cases; though the actual number is likely to be much higher.

It is also not clear whether there were penalties for not obeying the new measures.

They come at the beginning of traditional New Year’s celebrations which were due to kick off Monday. Express buses tickets are sold out as people depart from Yangon to other parts of the country before the holiday, according to Frontier Myanmar. Thousands of people, especially migrant workers, are expected to reunite with their families, risking new vectors of infection as people leave dense areas for more rural locales.

A separate order from the President’s Office released yesterday said government employees would not be allowed to travel due to fear they might spread the virus or return infected.

Ten patients with coronavirus are currently receiving treatment in the hospitals in Yangon according to the latest update from the health authorities. Mass gatherings including the water festival were canceled in Yangon until the end of April.

On Monday, the office of Aung San Suu Kyi announced relief measures meant to offset economic woes for the working class. They include 150 units of free electricity use (equivalent to about MMK11,500) and supplies of rice, salt, oil, onion and beans to every low-income household nationwide starting Friday.

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