Myanmar puts Yangon in Covid-19 lockdown for 2 weeks as elections loom

Myanmar red cross members work inside a temporary shelter for Covid-19 patients on a football pitch in Yangon on Sept 19, 2020.
Myanmar red cross members work inside a temporary shelter for Covid-19 patients on a football pitch in Yangon on Sept 19, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

YANGON • Myanmar has put most of Yangon province, home to its largest city, on lockdown for two weeks to contain a record surge in coronavirus infections ahead of general elections set for November.

The strict stay-at-home order, which started yesterday, bars more than one member of a family from venturing out for shopping and curbs travel from Yangon township to other cities except for essential work. The guidelines were issued on Sunday by the nation's Central Committee on Covid-19 Control.

The lockdown orders also bar people going on social visits from the streets except those with prior approval from the township authorities, and limit vehicles to two passengers, among other restrictions.

In addition, all factories - including cutting, making and packing businesses - must close from Thursday to Oct 7, and all people under quarantine are subject to a mandatory one-week home isolation after testing negative for the virus.

With new coronavirus cases surging, the authorities have cut the quarantine period at state facilities to one week from two to make space for the care of primary and secondary contacts of infected people, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Essential services such as banking, healthcare, petrol stations and food outlets will be allowed to operate as usual, it said.

While private-sector companies and organisations have been ordered to ask employees to work from home, government employees are allowed to do so on rotation.

New cases jumped by 671 on Sunday, a single-day record for Myanmar since the nation of 54 million people first reported the virus outbreak in late March, official data showed. The death toll rose by 11, taking the total to 94.

Much of Yangon and Rakhine state, the epicentres of the nation's outbreak, had already been under some kind of social distancing rules, with a ban on domestic travel imposed from Sept 10.

 
 

Myanmar is racing to contain the outbreak, with 5,805 Covid-19 cases as at yesterday morning, ahead of general elections scheduled for Nov 8. About two dozen political parties are calling for the vote to be postponed due to the resurgence in virus cases.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2020, with the headline 'Myanmar puts Yangon in lockdown for 2 weeks as elections loom'. Print Edition | Subscribe