Myanmar tightens entry rules after announcing first coronavirus cases

By THOMAS KEAN | FRONTIER

YANGON – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced stricter rules for Myanmar nationals and foreigners entering Myanmar, less than a day after the country announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

From midnight tonight local time all Myanmar nationals entering the country will be quarantined for 14 days in a state facility, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced earlier this afternoon.

Foreigners will be required to present “laboratory evidence” that they are not infected with COVID-19, and will also be subject to state quarantine for 14 days after arrival. The document from a laboratory must have been issued within 72 hours of departure and should be presented when checking in for their flight to Myanmar.

Diplomats and United Nations personnel will also need to prove they are free of COVID-19 but will only have to home quarantine after arrival.

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The measures are similar to those introduced in Thailand earlier in the week, where even transiting passengers have been asked to show proof they are not infected and to have health insurance that includes coverage for COVID-19.

The difficulty of obtaining a test for COVID-19 without symptoms means that few foreigners will be able to enter Myanmar from tomorrow.

There are also relatively few flights still operating to and from Yangon International Airport. Many airlines have reduced services or stopped them completely due to low demand and stricter entry rules in many countries, some of which have sealed their borders completely.

Myanmar’s new restrictions come amid heightened concern over the potential for a widespread COVID-19 outbreak in Myanmar, after the Ministry of Health late last night confirmed that two Myanmar nationals who had recently returned from abroad had tested positive for COVID-19.

The men are Myanmar’s first confirmed cases, although the ministry has to date only conducted 215 tests.

One of the men, aged 36, had returned from the United States, while the other, a 26-year-old, had travelled back from the United Kingdom.

On March 15, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had introduced restrictions on passengers who had visited any of eight countries in the past 14 days, but this did not include the UK. Those who had spent time in the US would be put under surveillance for 14 days, it said.

By Thomas Kean

By Thomas Kean

Thomas Kean has been working in Myanmar as a journalist and editor since 2008. Before joining Frontier in May 2016, he edited the English edition of the Myanmar Times for six years.
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