Myanmar bans flights, journey from Yangon as virus spreads

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Myanmar bans flights, travel from Yangon as virus spreads

A lockdown building wrapped in yellow police is closed due to the coronavirus in Yangon, Myanmar, on Thursday, September 10th, 2020. Myanmar is accelerating efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus that is now affecting the upcoming November 8th general election. As campaigns were ordered, they were suspended in several areas to control the spread of the virus. (AP Photo / Thein Zaw)

Myanmar on Friday reintroduced its toughest measures yet to contain the spread of the coronavirus, banning travel from the country's largest city, Yangon, and halting all domestic flights.

Both measures, which were announced a few hours before they came into effect, will come into effect by October 1st.

A surge in coronavirus cases that began in August in the western state of Rakhine has since spread to other parts of the country. Until the last outbreak, Myanmar appeared to have been largely spared from the pandemic.

The health authorities had already ordered partial lockdowns in 29 of Yangon's 44 townships, including 20 on Thursday. New roadblocks were set up in parts of the city on Friday. Some minor roads were closed while the main roads remained open. As the country's commercial capital, Yangon is a transport hub and transit point.

"Some may think that these rules and regulations are too restrictive," said the country's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. "However, if we strictly adhere to these restrictions every two or three weeks, we can get to a situation where this disease is under control."

The Ministry of Health announced 115 new confirmed cases on Friday, bringing the number to 2,265, including 14 dead. The Yangon regional government said the number of locally transmitted cases totaled 656 from August 24 through Tuesday.

Myanmar bans flights and travel from Yangon if the virus spreads
A vendor selling face masks and shields waits for customers in a street shop in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, September 10, 2020. Myanmar is accelerating efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, which is now affecting the upcoming November 8 general election, as campaigns have been ordered that have been suspended in several areas to control the spread of the virus. (AP Photo / Thein Zaw)

Stay-at-home orders placed for parts of Yangon this month and all of Rakhine state in August sometimes require locks with limited travel, such as B. for food.

The electoral commission this week also banned political campaigns in the cordoned off areas ahead of the November 8 elections.

The new ban on domestic flights follows attempts to track down the thousands of people who have flown out of Rakhine since August 10, but only about half of whom have reported to the authorities. In an unusual step to track them down, the names of the erroneous travelers were published in newspapers.

In her speech on Thursday, Suu Kyi warned of the gravity of the situation, pointing out that the infection and death rate was faster than in March and April when the disease first struck Myanmar.

"The other thing I noticed is that some of the infected are teenagers," she said. "So we should understand deeply that COVID does not distinguish whether you are old or young, or whether or not you have underlying health problems."

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