Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Myanmar bans gatherings of more than five people as of April 17 due to COVID-19. Other domestic and international travel measures apply.

This alert affects Myanmar

This alert began 17 Apr 2020 06:27 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry bans, quarantine measures, international and domestic transport disruptions; possible protests

Summary
The government has banned gatherings of more than five people, as of April 17, to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Limited exemptions include for public servants and factory workers commuting to and from their workplaces and during medical emergencies. Other domestic movement controls remain in place across much of Myanmar, including Yangon and Mandalay. Officials in Yangon have ordered residents to stay at home, except for buying food and medication, through April 19. Similar measures are in place in Shan State, where residents must obtain permission from township officials before traveling. The government in Sagaing Region has also imposed a nightly 2200-0400 curfew until further notice, with exemptions for residents buying food or seeking medical attention. Authorities have closed nonessential businesses in most areas for varying time frames, with exceptions for food producers, markets, medical providers and pharmacies, banks, and utilities. Some regions have also shut down hotels and tourist attractions. Additional measures are possible.

Transport restrictions are ongoing in some regions and states. Public transport in Shan State remains suspended through April 21, while Mandalay city officials have also banned travel in and out of the city through April 21. The measures have led some airlines to suspend flights; Air KBZ (K7) has suspended flights through April 18, while state carrier Myanmar National Airlines (UB) has canceled flights through April 19. Further transport disruptions may occur in the coming weeks.

The Kayah State government canceled plans to implement movement controls after residents opposed the policy and claimed it would affect the economy. Similar criticism against the restrictions is possible in other areas of the country and could lead to protests.

Travel Restrictions

All international flights, except for relief or cargo flights, remain suspended through at least April 30. The government has restricted movement at borders with Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand, allowing only the transport of goods. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also suspended visa issuance and visa-free travel to the country through April 30. Diplomats, UN officials, and aircraft and ship crew are exempt from visa restrictions. Returning Myanmar citizens and incoming foreigners, with some exceptions, will need to undergo a 21-day quarantine at government facilities and subsequent one-week self-isolation. Authorities are allowing diplomats and resident UN officials to self-quarantine at their residence. Officials could expand their response in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Postpone travel if affected by travel restrictions. Confirm flight status before checking out of accommodation and departing for the airport. Follow all official immigration and health screening instructions, particularly if traveling from affected locations. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Avoid any demonstration as a precaution.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int