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Updated on May 14, 2020 From The Irrawaddy

Yangon Extends Lockdown Measures for Myanmar’s COVID-19 Hotspots

YANGON—In the latest move to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the city, Yangon has extended a partial lockdown for 10 townships where a total of 113, or 78 percent, of the city’s 145 reported coronavirus cases have been found.

Local authorities announced the extension on Tuesday night and said the lockdown will remain in effect until further notice. The townships covered under the partial lockdown are South Okkalapa, Pabedan, Bahan, Mayangone, Insein, Shwepyithar, Hlaing Tharyar, Tamwe, Mingaladon and Botahtaung.

According to the Ministry of Health and Sports, the partial lockdown requires residents to stay at home except for going to work and allows only one person per household to leave the house at a time to buy food and essential supplies. The lockdown also allows only two people to leave the house together to visit a clinic or hospital for necessary medical care. If residents must leave their homes for any reason, they must seek permission from their ward administrator.

No one is allowed to travel in or out of the townships except for when going to work.

The restrictive measures were imposed in seven of the townships on April 18 and in the remaining three on April 24.

Yangon regional lawmaker U Wai Phyo Han of Insein Township said that the semi-lockdown is aimed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the region’s hotspots where large numbers of cases of the disease have been found.

A resident from Insein Township told The Irrawaddy that the measures were implemented in his township for only the first few weeks of the semi-lockdown, during which authorities monitored all entries and exits from the township.

He said that now many people are resuming normal activities and some are going outside in large groups without wearing masks. However, he added that shops and restaurants in the township are still selling food and drinks for takeaway only.

Insein has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any township in Yangon.

On Wednesday, a “We Love Insein” volunteer group launched a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of wearing masks when outside and other preventive guidelines. The group distributed 13,000 masks at markets in the township.

The Yangon government has announced that starting Wednesday, those who fail to wear masks when outside or who gather in groups of more than four will face legal action.

During a teleconference on Tuesday, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also said that those who go outside with their faces uncovered, especially in markets, should be fined in order to help them get in the habit of wearing masks.

“Some people don’t even wear a mask,” she said. “Some put the mask on their lower jaw. We have to issue fines to them as a penalty and to make it become a habit,” she said.

The State Counselor has been encouraging citizens to wear face masks—whether surgical masks or cloth masks—when going outdoors to curb the spread of the virus.

IMAGE: A resident disinfects his neighborhood in Yangon’s Botahtaung Township while under semi-lockdown. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy
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