Myanmar cancels Burmese New Year Festival, tightens travel from outbreak zones (but not China)

Anxious shoppers clear out the shelves Thursday at a supermarket. Photo: Zay Yar Tun / Facebook
Anxious shoppers clear out the shelves Thursday at a supermarket. Photo: Zay Yar Tun / Facebook

Update: The government on Sunday ordered that anyone who has been to France, Germany, Iran, Italy, or Spain within the past two weeks must submit to 14 days of quarantine at government facilities upon arrival. The order also applies to those who have traveled to “hot spots” in China and South Korea within two weeks. Anyone with recent travel history to the United States will be monitored.

Myanmar’s water festival has officially been canceled as the government Friday ordered mass gatherings and events barred until the end of April.

Despite officially maintaining that Myanmar remains free of coronavirus cases, Naypyitaw took its biggest step yet in confronting the global pandemic short of acknowledging widespread suspicions it is already prevalent.

“As the respiratory disease COVID-19 can be quickly spread in crowds, the public should not engage in ceremonies and festivals including celebration of Myanmar’s traditional water festival and construction of mandats,” the President’s Office said in a statement.

Mandats are entertainment stages with live music and dance performances usually erected for Thingyan, the annual water festival that falls April 13-16 this year.

The statement also advised the members of the public to not believe in disinformation and rumors. Yangon residents have been panic-buying dry and canned goods due after rumors spread of someone testing positive for the coronavirus.

The health authorities said there are no confirmed cases of the disease but they are monitoring 16 suspected cases now in hospital. All bordering governments but for Laos have announced infections due to the coronavirus.

The immigration department says it is now requiring visitors from Italy, Iran and South Korea to show health certificates indicating they don’t have COVID-19.

Travelers from China, where the virus originated and has infected and killed the most, were excluded from that list.


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