New passports and flags as Yangon splinters into COVID city-states

USA now stands for the United States of Ahlone. The UK is no longer the United Kingdom but United Kyimyindine, whose proud and sovereign people occupy both banks of the Hlaing River.

The balkanization of Yangon’s response to the explosion of COVID-19, with townships making their own rules instead of a comprehensive approach, has been taken to the logical extreme online where the city has fractured into autonomous nations.

Over social media, people have even imagined flags and passports for the places now blocked by streets due to stay-at-home orders in a bid to shield communities from the virus. The blockades have halted vehicles, inconvenienced residents and inspired visions of an even more fractured nation.

“Hope everyone can stride over all difficulties during the second wave,” Facebooker Kyaw Swar Myint captioned a photo of a woman climbing over a makeshift wooden palisade in one ward.

On 138 Street in Tamwe township, residents were charging tolls of MMK3,000 (US$2) or 30 squats to those out without a mask.

Graphic designers have been whipping up flags and even passports for each township Others include “The Republic of South Okkalapa,” “The Union of Sanchaung” and “Thingangyuniea.”

“Welcome to the confederate states of Yangon,” Facebooker Orng Joitamoi wrote in a caption to an image of the sealed border between Ahlone and Kyimyindine townships. 

Myanmar reported another 284 coronavirus infections this morning, a nearly 10% jump in one day from 3,015 known cases to 3,299 in total. Another eight fatalities were recorded, raising the official death toll to 32.

On Friday, escalating lockdown measures led to Yangon being sealed off, with nonessential travel in and out of the busy commercial capital forbidden. 

The rising restrictions have been criticized as more inconvenient than practical in stemming the outbreak. On Saturday, a man who really needed a drink reportedly survived a fourth-floor jump on Butayone Street in Hlaing township to evade lockdown. 

Read more stories from Coconuts Yangon here 

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