Myanmar imports more COVID cases

Two Myanmar citizens returning from abroad have tested positive for the coronavirus, apparently contracting COVID-19 abroad. One, a 15-year-old woman from Mandalay Region, recently returned from Sudan. The other, a 19-year-old man from Chin State, returned from India. Neither of the patients had contact with the general public nor with anyone known to be infected within Myanmar. The new confirmed cases bring the total (at the time of writing) to 357, with six deaths. The new cases follow a government announcement that it will arrange relief flights for Myanmar citizens stuck abroad and those who need to travel to other countries for urgent matters, such as medical procedures. The ban on all other international flights has been extended through August (and will likely remain in effect for much longer), as COVID-19 continues to spread beyond its borders.

Myanmar has struggled with the balance of meeting people’s travel needs while preventing the spread of the coronavirus since March, when the flight ban began and the country closed major land crossings. In response, tens of thousands of migrant workers fled back into the country, sparking fears that the wave of returnees would carry the virus to their homes. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi went so far as to urge those returning illegally to make themselves known to local authorities. Domestic travel has largely resumed, but the moratorium in international travel has entered its fifth month. Many of the country’s expats and foreign investors have left, and its tourism industry has all but stalled. Yet the new, imported COVID-19 cases emphasis the need for extreme caution as the government works to meet the needs of citizens with foreign ties.

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